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)

Something’s changed

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Monday June 18th, 2012 Visalia City Hall

If anyone had told me, oh, say back when I was in high school, or even for a decade or two after that, that I would end up as some kind of “community leader”, standing at the public’s podium at the City Hall, and accepting a proclamation for that community, I’d have thought they were simply nuts.

Something’s changed.

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Better late than never! The Visalia Times Delta publishes my letter

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October 11 was National Coming Out Day.  I wrote and submitted a Letter To The Editor about it, hoping my local paper, The Visalia Times Delta, would publish it on NCOD.  They didn’t, and I dismissed the hope of seeing it in the printed edition.  A few days after the 11th, I went ahead and posted it in the blog section of the paper’s online site, and to QueerVisalia.com.  Imagine my surprise to see it in yesterdays paper!  It appeared on the 11th, but the 11th of Novemeber!  Better late than never, I suppose.  The comments are filling up with a lot of religious bigotry and hatred, and a couple of positive remarks.  There are a lot of remarks from a few different screen names, posting multiple times, and endlessly going on about how I’m going to hell, and need to repent.  Some of us who post regularly to the online forums of the VTD suspect the multiple screen names belong to one individual, but you never know.  In this area, there are plenty of homophobes ready and willing to rant their anonymous diatribes.  It could be more than one person, but regardless, they continue to spout lies, hatred, bigotry, and endlessly go on about how “God” hates this that and the other.  But, it did get printed.  Already got some nice comments at work and at my Facebook page about it.
Check it out here.

Harvey Milk Day Commentary

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Here’s the text of my Guest Commentary in the Visalia Times Delta of May 20, 2011.

“My name is Harvey Milk, and I’m here to recruit you.”

Making this statement during public appearances, Harvey Milk was recruiting people to come out of the closet. He felt this action was the most important thing people in the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community could do to ensure their civil rights. If more people were aware of the gay associates, friends, family and loved ones around them, it would become impossible for most of them to continue past habits of discrimination.

Sunday, May 22, is the second annual California Harvey Milk Day. It’s a day to remind all Californians of the ability of one person to make a difference.

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When I Should Have Known

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That’s me, back in 1969 or so.  Twelve years old.  One important thing in my life happened right about then, and a second important thing didn’t.  I wrote about the first thing in a blog posted to Tulare County Atheists some time ago.  This blog is about the second thing, the one that didn’t happen.  At least not for another 25 years.

I had a “girlfriend” when I was 5 years old.  We attended the same kindergarten class in Tacoma.  I remember calling her my girlfriend, and I think she called me her boyfriend, but I’m not sure either of us really thought much of the designation.  For me, it might have been more something my father suggested.  She and I only interacted in school, since we didn’t live close to each other.  We didn’t really play that much together, and other than the status of “girlfriend”, I really don’t recall much about her.  I think her name was the same as my sister’s, Sherry, but I could be mis-remembering that.  We moved after the end of the school year, and I never saw her again.  I don’t recall being upset about that.  Maybe that was the first clue?

That was it for girlfriends up until my senior year in high school.  Second clue?  Perhaps.

I should have figured out the second thing right about the same time I figured out the first.  But there was a big difference between being OK about being an atheist, and being OK about being gay.

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