Friday, January 20, 2017

Heeding Martha & The Vandellas’s Advice

“... Oh, it doesn’t matter what you wear, just as long as you are there.  “Dancing in the Streets,” a number one hit in 1964, wanted the world to be one big block party.
Two nights ago, 200 people took to the streets outside of now V-P Mike Pence’s rented house in Chevy Chase, Maryland to protest his anti-gay policies that have included voting against same-sex marriage and approval of “conversion therapy.” The latter is an attempt to convert gays to being straight, but has been outlawed in several states because not only is it ineffectual, but because it elicits guilt and depression in those who are trying to be converted in these religious camps.
Dancing to tunes of Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Madonna, the Facebook event was organized by WERK for Peace and Disrupt J20.  (In case, you’re wondering what Disrupt J20 is, it’s a protest group that calls for a bold mobilization against today, the Inauguration Day, January 20). The dancers did not actually reach Pence’s house, but the crowd, dressed in rainbow colors and sequins, made their point: “Daddy Pence, come dance.  We are here, we are queer, we will dance.”  This was a tame, but loud demonstration.  They could have thrown molotov cocktails at Pence’s house.
Public Shaming Smart?
This is not the first time that Pence has been shamed.  During a November 2016 performance of “Hamilton” with his granddaughter in tow, Pence was booed by the audience at the theatre. After the show, with the cast on stage, Brandon Victor Dixon, who played Aaron Burr, read a note, “we wanted to stand up and spread a message of love and of unity. We are a diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us.  We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of us.”
Was it wrong for Pence to be called out in a public theatre?  Although Pence listened to the message and didn’t object, Trump, on the other hand, demanded an apology (which he never received) from the producers of the show for “bad behavior.” The theater was not the place to make a spectacle.
Pence was a gentleman and shrugged it off as he explained to his granddaughter “this is Democracy in action.”  But Trump will tweet for  the slightest “tit for tat” as he did with Meryl Streep. The lauded actress used her acceptance speech at the Golden Globes on January 8th to indirectly criticize Trump as she drew attention to the diversity of background in the arts as“just a bunch of people from other places.”
Although Trump was elected without my help or vote, perhaps we should show more class than he does at times.  Was it necessary for the Republicans today to boo Hilary Clinton when she and Bill sat two rows behind Trump at the Inauguration?  Isn’t it enough that she showed up haven’t lost the electoral college, but winning the popular vote?  Her gesture showed humility and class. 
On many levels, you can see why the LGBT population is afraid of the new administration: their voting records, their control of the Senate and the House. But remember that Obama credited with the first LGBT initiatives evolved.  His Vice-President Biden during a “Meet the Press” interview in May 2012 prematurely said that Obama was for gay marriage, almost forcing Obama’s hand to accept it. At that time, Obama was supporting civil unions and was still “evolving.”  Obama was not the only President who evolved.
President Bill Clinton signed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 1994 before he evolved.
Let’s give Trump a chance.  Not only Presidents evolve but parents who initially aren’t accepting of their LGBT children evolve, the military has evolved.  Let’s hope for the best as we all grow and evolve. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Golden Rule In Action!

Remember your mother and your Sunday School teacher telling you to treat others as you wish to be treated?  One of the largest bullying-prevention initiatives in schools throughout the United States starts tomorrow, on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Day, January 16th and runs until January 20th, Inauguration Day.  It is fitting that No Name-Calling Week of 2017 starts on MLK Day as the great preacher stressed kindness, respect, for the treatment of all people as he called for the acceptance of a diverse society.

No-Name Calling Week, 2017

Nearly half of teachers believe that bullying, name-calling or harassment is a very serious problem at their schools.  Bullied students, research finds, miss up to one day per month of school due to their discomfort at being harassed.

What Exactly Is No-Name Calling Week?

No-Name Calling Week is an opportunity to show you’re an ally to LGBTQ students, particularly transgender and gender nonconforming students, as well as LGBTQ students of color.  An annual event, No Name-Calling Week was inspired by the popular YA novel titled The Misfits (2001) by James Howe.  The book is about four best friends in the seventh grade who experience bullying due to their weight, height, intelligence, and sexual orientation.  During student council elections, they create their own party aimed at eliminating name-calling of all kinds.  The principal gives his support of the party and their founding of the “No-Name-Calling Day” at school.

Simon & Schuster, the publisher of The Misfits, and GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Education, Network) formed The No Name-Calling Week Coalition and organized No Name-Calling in schools throughout the United States.  Supported by over sixty national partner organizations, schools organize a week of activities such as posters, dress, written materials to demonstrate their acceptance of differences.

GLSEN provides tools for lessons and activities for elementary, middle, and high schools.  For samples and possibilities for your schools,  see

Celebrate Kindness!

While this week will bring attention to the bullying problem, by modeling kindnes
 in our everyday lives, both in and out of school, you can fulfill King’s prophecy to accept others who may be different from you.  Speak kindly and be thoughtful to others not just this week, but always.  “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say it at all.”

Saturday, January 7, 2017

What's The Hidden Picture In Highlights?

Our kids, then 6 and 11, used to pour over their Highlights for Children received in the mail.  Of course, they could have read Highlights in their elementary school library, but it seemed special to them to receive their very own copy!

We did some of the crafts and puzzles, and, of course, read the stories.  One of their favorite sections was “Where’s the Hidden Picture?”  Just this week, the trusted non-controversial magazine founded in 1946 became the center of controversy.

The Hidden Picture for Kristina

This controversy began this past October when an LGBT activist named Kristina Wertz posted about the lack of same-sex couples in Hello, a Highlights magazine aimed at children up to 2 years old. Kristina wrote to the magazine’s editors that she’d like to see families with homosexual partners be depicted positively and regularly.

The editors responded by basically saying that the conversations involving same-sex families should be initiated by families.  “The topic of same-sex families is still new, and parents are still learning how to approach the subject to their children.  We believe that parents know best when their family is ready to open conversation around the topic of same-sex families.”

Although the magazine editors assured Kristina that “it is very important to us that every child see his or her ‘face’ in the pages of our magazine at some point,” LGBT activists didn’t want to wait for the Highlights editor to “continue to think deeply about inclusion.”

Quick as the next day, Highlights apologized, saying its initial response was not  “reflective of our values, intentions of our position. All families matter. Love is the essential ingredient,” according to the magazine’s statement.

True to its word, Highlights, in February, will include an illustration of two men loading a station wagon for a family trip in an item that invites readers to send letters.

With Inclusion Comes Backlash 

Despite Highlights’s plans to bring the family up-to-date to “help children become their best selves and understand that all families, including theirs, are important,” this inclusion has upset the conservatives.  While the magazine does not discuss relationships among adults, Rod Dreher of The American Conservative derided Highlights “it is insane that Highlights for Children gets bullied into this, and that the editors would capitulate so quickly. Within a year or two, Highlights is going to face enormous pressure to, um, highlight transgendered tots?”

One Million Moms, a division of the Christian advocacy group the American Family Association,  on December 21, warned that parents are left with no other choice than to cancel their subscription.” 

The Hidden Picture

This planned picture in Highlights has already sparked over 1,000 words and will continue to do so.  Says the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Christine French Cully, “we expect this will make some people unhappy.” 

Families come in all shapes and sizes now.  There are families headed by grandparents, single parents, multi-racial families, same-sex families made by adoption or surrogacy; Highlights is attempting to reflect the new modern family.  Highlights has come out of the closet.  The picture that was once hidden is now hanging on its wall for all its readers to see.