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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Banned in Boston? No, but Twitter is close, right?

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My heart is all a-flutter! I just discovered that I’ve been banned from my Congressman’s Twitter feed! Apparently someone took notice to some of the comments I’ve made, and questions I’ve asked (but never had answered), and decided the most effective response was to block me from his Twitter.

Here’s my latest Tweet at Congressman Nunes:

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I’m assuming this is what precipitated my banishment, but it could be that some other questions and comments I’ve made have left a…  shall we say, poor impression?… on the Congressman. Or someone on his staff, more likely.

At any rate, I’m tickled.

#TheResistance

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resistance

This came across my Facebook feed today, reposted by George Takei.

” I listened as they called my President a Muslim.
I listened as they called him and his family a pack of monkeys.
I listened as they said he wasn’t born here.
I watched as they blocked every single path to progress that they could.
I saw the pictures of him as Hitler.
I watched them shut down the government and hurt the entire nation twice.
I watched them turn their backs on every opportunity to open worthwhile dialogue.
I watched them say that they would not even listen to any choice for Supreme Court no matter who the nominee was.
I listened as they openly said that they will oppose him at every turn.
I watched as they did just that.
I listened.
I watched.
I paid attention.
Now, I’m being called on to be tolerant.

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Is World War III being set in motion?

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brexit

The last two World Wars started in Europe. After World War II, political structures were put in place to reduce the danger of another.  Are we seeing the increasing pace of events that could lead to WWIII?  I wonder.

India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons, and are perpetually on the brink of war.  Korea and Iran are trying their damnedest to get nukes. China, Russia, Israel, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States all have the bomb.  There may be others.  The CIA might know who, but we don’t.

The events that led to the “Great War”, later renamed to World War I because we had to start numbering them, didn’t start in 1914. The catalyzing event, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria,  was merely the spark on a growing powder keg of social and political upheaval that was decades in development. The political decisions made at the end of this war set up the conditions for the next, which took less than 25 years to erupt, and led to the rise of the Nazi party and Adolph Hitler in Germany.

That spasm of war took another four years to end, with millions more dying.  Europe was again devastated.  Out of that war came such institutions as the UN, NATO, and later the European Union.  Now, the latter has seen one of it’s major members vote to leave.  The United Kingdom will leave the Union within two years.  Stock markets around the world saw their shares plummet in value on that news, with trillions of dollars of wealth being wiped out. Money people know what has happened in the past is a good indicator of what will happen in the future, and they don’t like what they see.

By itself, the UK leaving would probably not lead to war.  But other forces working in the world today might lead to that very outcome.

Europe is dealing with a refugee crisis like it hasn’t seen in more than half a century.  The middle east is always in the midst of chaos, with the further destabilization that occurred after the United States barged into Iraq adding to the mess.  Governments are having trouble maintaining order in some places, and in others they don’t even pretend to try. Religious fanatics (or those using religion for political goals) are using the mechanics of war to gain and hold entire regions.  Weapons manufacturers are getting rich(er) arming all sides.

All of this, on it’s own, would probably have been manageable, even with the UK leaving the EU.  Climate Change could be the wild card that leads to WWIII.

Billions of people live in areas destined to be severely impacted by global warming.  From rising sea levels swamping coastal regions of Asia and India, where billions live, to the increased severity of cyclones, hurricanes, and storm surges, there is potential for severe disruption, both socially and politically.  Hundreds of millions of people could be displaced, food production disrupted, and fresh water in short supply.  This could cause mass migrations of desperate people, and the resulting undermining of governments.

Local wars could break out, and with the intertwined agreements tying countries to each other’s defense, we could see the battles spread like they did in the “War to End All Wars”. The one we had to start the numbering after because it didn’t stop anything.

If the United States were to elect Donald Trump as President, I think the risks of war would be advanced severely.  His bluster, incompetence, and lack of any reasonable intelligence about world affairs would be a crisis that could hurtle the world into the next, perhaps final, catastrophe.  I’m 99% sure we won’t put him in the White House.  I think he is a bullet we will easily dodge, especially after he starts going toe-to-toe with Hillary Clinton.  That may not be enough, however, to insure we don’t add a “III” to the list.  We may only delay what could be the inevitable.

I don’t think this will happen soon,  probably not even in my lifetime. I’m concerned for the children of my nieces and nephews, and their children, however.  The second half of the 21st Century will be the cauldron, and climate change could be the fire that brings it to a devastating boil.

I’m almost glad I (probably) won’t be around to see it.

 

LGBT center to serve Tulare & Kings Counties

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thesource_r.jpg

Did you see the article in Saturday’s edition of the Visalia Times Delta? If not, go here and check it out. We’ll wait.

Isn’t that just the greatest news? Here’s their webpage, and here’s their Facebook page. Here’s their fundraising page. Go toss them a few bucks. Or more. We’ll wait again.

Back?  Thanks!  The response to this endeavor from the LGBT and allied community has been astounding. From nearly meeting the initial fundraising goal in just a few weeks, to the outpouring of “likes” on Facebook and the buzz on social media, theSOURCE promises to be a resounding success.

Visalia has long had LGBT groups holding activities.  From an over 20 year ongoing monthly potluck dinner group, gay bowling leagues, softball teams (go Skittles!), the Lavender Ball,  Pride in the Park, Family Fest, the second LGBT Pride Lions group in the USA, the Tuesday Evening Dining Group, gay-straight alliances at local high schools, and COS Pride just to mention a few, Visalia has bucked the trend of most other places in the Central Valley.

There have also been dark times.  Suicides of LGBT youth and adults has been an un- or under-reported fact of life here.  Many young gay people leave the area as soon as they can, some never to return.  In 2001 a gay student at Golden West High School sued the Visalia Unified School District over anti-gay harassment he suffered there.  George Loomis won his case, resulting in new policies and training for Visalia Unified.

The times, as they say, are a’ changin’.

theSOURCE will provide a clearinghouse for resources, information, counseling, medical and mental health services, social activities, and more, all geared to supporting the LGBT and allied community.  Access to medically accurate information for the treatment of STDs, as well as HIV/AIDs, and referrals to practitioners familiar and friendly towards the gay community will be provided.  Information on welcoming and affirming religious organizations will be available.

A new page in Visalia’s LGBT history is about to be turned.  From the heart of Visalia’s downtown (208 W. Main, Suite B in the Montgomery Plaza), theSOURCE will serve the entire community, regardless of sexual orientation, gender expression, race, religion, physical or mental handicap, age, income level, or any other classification you care to come up with.

At theSOURCE, you don’t have to be out to come in.  You don’t have to be gay, either.

At theSOURCE, you’re welcome.

History is about to be made in Visalia

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its_coming

We’ve never had this before. It’s coming in May, and it promises to be a vital new addition to Visalia and Tulare/Kings Counties. Keep an eye out for this weekend’s Visalia Times Delta, and their coverage of something many of us thought would never happen here.

It is happening, it’s long overdue, and it’s going to be the source for a lot of change!

Stay tuned.

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

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national-coming-out-day

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)

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