Tag Archives: LGBTQ

No Perfect People: A #Mother’s Day Reflection

aliciaDoSomethingGood

When I wrote those words in the novel Run or Die, they came from growing up with my mother. She was a woman who became the first female remodeling contractor in our state to do her own work.  Never play the damsel-in-distress because if you play it long enough, you become it.  Never back down from a bully; they only get worse. And, whenever you get knocked down, pick yourself back up and throw yourself back into the fight. Never settle; constantly strive to improve, to grow, to become more.

All very necessary lessons as I grew up in a ghetto. A poverty-stricken area where dreams died fast and so did most people. But most people weren’t my mother.

Flying saucers were part of my childhood–they were the things my mom threw at my stepfather. She liked knives, too, but unlike the cups and saucers, she deliberately missed with the knives. A friendly warning; that’s all. Her temper was well-known in our neighborhood. No one wanted to set it off, including me. All too frequently, I was at the wrong end of her temper; often for reasons I never understood.

You’d think that with memories like that, that I would despise my mother. Honestly, I did go through a phase of hating her, but it never diminished the fact that I also loved and admired her; respected and idolized her. Why? One time she told me to wake her up and when I did, she threw a Vick’s jar at me. I ducked and took off out of the house until she calmed down. So, why do I retain good memories of my mother? Why do I speak of her with respect?

Because, in spite of the violence, my mother was a kind and caring person. No, that is not some illusion succored by someone who can’t accept the truth; the reality. Let me tell you about the woman beneath the violence.

My mother grew up in a coal camp–tarpaper shanties where coal miners and their families lived while the miners eked out a piss poor existence. Water hauled from the creek, kerosene lanterns rather than electricity, outdoor latrines. A tough life. My grandmother cleaned a rich woman’s house for a pittance and the rich woman’s castoff clothes that Grandma altered by lantern light. My mother’s father–my biological grandfather–like most men in the camps believed it was his right to get drunk on money needed for food and to come home and beat his wife and children.

My grandmother, like most women of that day and that place, put up with the beatings until the night he staggered home and went after my mother. My grandmother grabbed his gun from the cupboard. She told him to “Get yerself right with your Maker, John.” Then she pulled the trigger. Fortunately, or unfortunately, (I never could decide on that) John took those seconds to dive out of the tarpaper-covered window hole. Grandma plugged him in the upper thigh, but he’d learned his lesson. He didn’t return and died in a coal mine cave-in years later.

Didn’t matter. He had used his money for booze and women. It was Grandma’s work that fed and housed the family.

Fast forward to when my mother turned fourteen. She had a beautiful singing voice and from somewhere managed to scrounge up a battered guitar and taught herself how to play.  Big dreams for a girl in a coal mining camp. Eventually, she ran away to the city where singers, even women, could find jobs as singers and guitar pickers. Yes, some women did find lounges and places to launch their career as singers. My mother wasn’t so lucky. She scratched out a living doing whatever it took to survive.

But, she never gave up. She wrote songs and found small venues where they hired her to play and sing. Sometimes, the pay consisted of a plate of food and beer. It was rough trade and a tough life.

Fast forward again. Birth control wasn’t available to my mother back then. She wound up eventually getting pregnant and getting married. Still, she refused to completely give up her dreams of singing. She continued to write, to sing and play when she found the gigs, but a woman with kids didn’t enjoy the same kind of freedom to pursue her passion as a man with kids. Over time, finding work to pay the rent and the bills took priority over pursuing her dreams. My mother accepted her responsibilities to provide for children, but alcohol and drugs soothed the wound left by her unrealized dreams.

Yet, even under the burden and the anger of thwarted dreams and passion, the despair of watching her life become a drudgery, of never having anyone with whom she felt able to truly share, the true spirit and heart of my mother shone. In large actions and in small ones, her kindness and caring spilled out.

Violence in poverty-stricken areas is sharpened by  physical hungers as well as despair. And, no one in our neighborhood ever had enough to eat. Somehow, Mom talked to the “bulls” that guarded the train yards back then into allowing her and me to gather the crates of fruit and vegetables that had fallen and busted during transfers from train cars to trucks for delivery. We hauled those crates home in the back of Mom’s dilapidated pickup. Then she would send me around to invite the neighbors to help us out, since we “couldn’t possibly eat it all”. I learned a valuable lesson back then: sometimes the only thing poor people have left is their pride. You don’t offer charity; you ask them to help you.

Another time, a child in our neighborhood needed medical care that her parents couldn’t afford. Mom set up a street fair on our deadend street. Now, for most people that right there would spell disaster for the fair. Not my mother. Even to this day, I have no idea how she pulled all those people to our street; to her fair. People paid to walk past those cars parked across the end of the street and they paid to play and laugh and eat. After two days, the fair ended and the little girl received her treatment.

It wasn’t just what my mother gave to others that impressed me. My mother was a consummate oral storyteller, telling stories in such a way that tears would pour down my cheeks and then the next story would have me laughing so hard my stomach ached. I would sit at her feet and listen for hours, transported to other worlds and far-off times.

Like the stories, I recall the nights my mother played her battered guitar and sang. Even today, I remember many of the songs.

My stepfather and mother both worked, so I was given chores such as cleaning the house and making dinners. Pride swelled inside me when she’d lay her arm across my shoulders and say “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

When she discovered that I wrote, she told me to never give up my dream; to never stop, no matter what happened in my life. After I left home, I found out that she bragged to neighbors, to friends, to acquaintances that her daughter was a writer.

At the age of nineteen with my life in turmoil, I returned home and worked with my mother in her home remodeling business. It was during that special time Mom introduced me to her lover. Her lover, a woman and a nurse. I had noticed something different about Mom during the months we had  worked together–her rages and violence had decreased; she laughed more; she drank and drugged less.

Unknown to either my mother or myself, that year I spent working with her was the last year of her life. I am grateful for it allowed me to see the real woman; the woman who could have been had life been kinder. We worked together, and laughed together. And, sometimes, we would have lunch or dinner with her lover. My mother’s eyes shone.

I had never seen my mother’s eyes shine like that.  Love had soothed the wounds in my mother’s soul.

Journey you make

A short blog post can never capture my mother’s journey, nor the strength it took for her to walk it. Here are a few of the footsteps she left behind for others to follow.

–No one is perfect. Just do your best.

–Never give up your dreams.

–Love is a most priceless gift. Don’t let others tell you who to love.

–Joy awaits those whose hearts never stop seeking.

–You’re tough. You can do anything you decide to do.

–Don’t let fear decide your life.

–If you don’t allow yourself to grow and to become, you will have nothing to offer others.

 

 

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1st Amendment: Stand Up or Shut Up!

While most people’s attention is on national politics, the Republicans in our own state of Washington are attempting to slip a few unsavory laws through the legislature. The worst of these laws are what the Republicans are calling anti-riot laws, but are really anti-protest laws.

Six reasons no legislation should be written that dampens the citizen’s right to protest:

1.We already have vandalism/malicious mischief laws in place for any situation, including during protests, both organized and unorganized.

2.We already have trespass laws in place for any situation, including during protests, both organized and unorganized.

3.We already have assault laws in place for any situation, including during protests, both organized and unorganized.

4.A law that makes the organizer of a protest or anyone participating in the protest liable for the actions of another person essentially forces an untrained civilian into the role of law enforcement. It does not matter whether the person breaking the laws is with the protest or is a rogue attempting to disrupt a peaceful protest.

5.Placing a civilian in such a position is a no-win situation for everyone, including innocent bystanders and law enforcement. Civilians are seldom trained to deal with violent offenders, regardless whether the offending is trespassing or assaulting someone. When you force a civilian into this role, you are very possibly forcing that civilian to break the laws against assault which would lead to legal repercussions from jail time to fines to civil lawsuits.
In addition, anytime civilians act as law enforcement they place real law enforcement in danger. Law enforcement officers have a specific protocol in matters of riot containment or offenses by individuals during a peaceful protest both to ensure that the offenders are stopped and the law enforcement officers are kept as safe as possible. When you inject civilians into the situation, that protocol is disrupted.

6.The right to peacefully protest is part of the Bill of Rights, First Amendment. Without the right to protest, a tool for citizens to force government to change is taken away. Without the right to impact our government, our democracy is seriously endangered.

7.When any part of the Bill of Rights, or the First Amendment, is compromised it then weakens that amendment and the Bill of Rights and other parts can then be more easily destroyed. Without the First Amendment not only will you, as a citizen, have no right to protest government actions, you will eventually have no right to speak out against the government. This leads to dictatorships.
setworldonfire
Peaceful protests have always been the match that people lit to change government; sometimes, protests are the only way to change government.

If you believe that our “blue” state would never stand for such a law being passed, you are asleep while driving your citizenship. Such proposals have already been introduced into our state legislature. If such a bill can be proposed, it will be passed without sufficient protest from the people. Such protest might be physical actions like marching or the protests might take the form of calling, emailing, and writing to not only the representatives for your district, but also the representatives for other districts to let them know they answer to our state, to all of our citizens.

Many people thought Trump would never be elected. They were asleep while driving their citizenship. If you want your rights protected, you need to stand up. Democracy is a choice: stand up or shut up!

The state of Washington is not the only state where laws are currently being proposed that would dampen or violate First Amendment rights to peaceful protest. As of February 24, 2017, seventeen states have bills being proposed that would deny citizens the right to protest. To see if your state is one, go to the link below. It has a map of the states of concern. These laws would, according to the Washington Post do such things as: “…indemnify drivers who strike protesters with their cars and, in at least one case, seize the assets of people involved in protests that later turn violent.”

According to Cornell University Law School:
“…The Supreme Court has expressly recognized that a right to freedom of association and belief is implicit in the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. This implicit right is limited to the right to associate for First Amendment purposes. It does not include a right of social association. The government may prohibit people from knowingly associating in groups that engage and promote illegal activities….”
Cornell University Law School:
“Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Three important changes in the United States that were brought about by protesters:
1. The right to form unions
2. Voting rights for black Americans and women
3. December 16, 1773 The Boston Tea Party signaled the colonists’ determination to live in a country where their needs were clearly represented.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/02/24/republican-lawmakers-introduce-bills-to-curb-protesting-in-at-least-17-states/
https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/first_amendment

To read about protests that changed history, go to https://www.facebook.com/TogetherWomenCan

democracy

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#LGBTQ Month

CreatorLovesDiversity

As LGBTQ Month draws to a close, I wanted to tell a story about my own life.

We are all products of a number of variables, among them our environments; especially, the one in which we matured. I wish I could say that I was different; completely self-made, independent of anyone’s influence, but I can’t. The way in which we grow up helps us to either accept ourselves for what we are or it throws us into a lifetime of denial and pain.

creator's child

As many of you know, I grew up in a desperately poor neighborhood. Of course, my mother, being the rebel that she was, refused to stay confined to those few streets, unlike so many people in our neighborhood. Whenever she could scrape together the gas money, she would load all of us up, including my grandmother, and go driving. Sometimes out to North Hills—much nicer, a rural setting back then—where we had a particular ice cream shop at which we stopped. My grandmother always had rainbow sherbert while the rest of us tried a variety of flavors. Something encouraged by my mother.

That vignette sums up my mother: someone who pushed against the strictures in which she found herself bound. When those strictures wouldn’t give, something in my mother did, and she expressed that frustration and depression as rage.

It took me many years to discover why my mother held such rage inside. At the age of nineteen, I finally understood. By this time, my mother had moved our family out of the city and into rural suburbia to live on two-and-a-half acres of land, surrounded by animals she rescued. However, the move had done nothing to calm her “temper” and periodically, blood was spilled. I don’t excuse my mother’s violence—all too frequently I suffered as the target—but I do now understand it.

A creative individual, my mother wrote songs, played the guitar, sang, could dance any dance, and could even dance on roller skates. At fourteen, she left home to “seek her fortune” as a singer. Not uncommon at the time for a talented young person to do. Unfortunately, those talented young people were almost always males. Turned aside at venue after venue, my mother turned to illegal means to earn a living. (Years later, I suffered the same type of discrimination when I worked as a mechanic. Shop after shop denied me employment due to my gender.)
Over time, Mom relinquished the pursuit of a singing career and eventually founded a home remodeling business.

At nineteen, I returned home and went to work for my mother. After a couple of weeks of no “flying off the handle”, I chalked up her “mellowing” due to her getting older. (After all, she was thirty-nine.)Until that special Wednesday.

Mom and I had been working on a beautiful Victorian-style house in Mount Lebanon that belonged to a nurse. At lunch time, the nurse came out and announced that lunch was prepared. This in itself was unusual. Some clients, who loved my mother, would fix us sandwiches and beverages, but never a sit-down full meal lunch. During that lunch, I watched the interactions between my mother and this other woman. Kids always know the score!

I left the table that day with the knowledge of what—or in this case who—had brought about the drastic changes in my mother.

My mother died about a year after I met her nurse-friend-lover. That year was filled with good memories—memories of the two of them together, memories of my mother and I laughing.
Up until then, being the product of my society, I had bristled and even gotten into fights if someone so much as insinuated that I might be lesbian. After seeing how that woman brought out the best in my mother, I accepted that being a lesbian—for my mom—was a good thing. It would take me a bit longer to accept being a lesbian for myself.

What was even more interesting was this:
I had always believed that I had inherited my mother’s rage. I was prone to fighting, and never flinched from a violent confrontation. After my mother met her nurse, her rage dissipated. Although it was years later before I got a handle on my personal rage, I finally knew genetics had nothing to do with our rages.

Society’s bigotry had forced my mother to be someone she wasn’t; had denied her not only the work she would have loved, had she been given the opportunity to perform in the venues that were open to men, but had also denied her sexuality. Mom was, in many respects, able to overcome her disappointment in not achieving her dream, (after all, she knew how competitive a career as a singer could be and she was realistic),but she could never overcome her unhappiness at being forced into a heterosexual life style.

My mother gave me an invaluable gift: the ability to accept being a lesbian. Accepting my lesbianism, eventually allowed me to overcome my own “rages.” I learned that #LoveWins and it can, indeed, change us. So, no matter who you love….

loveisagift

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5 #Supernatural Facts You Need To Know

From the time of the Great Fall, vampires have lived among us. Although there have been times when humans and vampires have coexisted somewhat peacefully, that has not occurred for hundreds of years–not since the Time of Hunting. During the Time of Hunting, humans partnered with certain segments of vampire society and declared war upon all Supernaturals. Fortunately, another segment of vampire society continued to be strict adherents to Artemis’ Purpose.
By the time the second vampire war ended, thousands of humans, vampires and other Supernaturals lay dead. Human hysteria fed continued attacks on vampire and Supernatural enclaves, and so vampires and other Supernaturals went underground. In order to soothe human fears, many myths, legends and other sources of misinformation were established by the Supernatural community.
Here are 5 such myths:

  1. Myth: #Vampires, werewolves, witches, and other Supernaturals don’t exist. The truth is that Supernaturals have existed since Time Began, except for vampires. Vampires were created by Artemis in response to Caine killing his sister, Abella.

  2. Myth: Vampires are harmed by garlic, holy water, crosses or other symbols of religion, silver, and sunlight. The truths is that some vampires enjoy a nice, garlic-laden Italian dinner, belong to various religions, have silver serving dishes and wear silver jewelry, and sun bathe like humans. Vampires can be killed, however, by shredding the heart and decapitation. Gold weakens and burns them.

  3. Myth: Vampires are evil. The truth is there are two distinct segments of vampire society. One segment views humans as blood cattle; the other segment adheres to Artemis’ Purpose to save human souls.

  4. Myth: Vampires turn into bats and fly. The truth is that vampires can no more fly–without an airplane–than humans. However, they can teleport, but it is a rare Power. Vampires do have a wide range of other Powers, though.

  5. Myth: Vampires are ruled by blood lust. The truth is that Artemis instilled both a blood lust and a sexual lust in vampires in order to remind them of there connection to humanity. Although vampires can survive on feeding their Hungers with vampires, Supernaturals or even animals, over time their Powers will weaken. In order to maintain the optimal level of Power they must feed from humans, both blood and sex.

In spite of hundreds of years of carefully maintaining their mythological status, vampires now face the risk of being outed. Once defeated by the combined efforts of vampires and other Supernaturals, the segment of vampire society that wants to make humans into blood-cattle has risen from the ashes of that defeat. While the World Council of Matriarchs sit on the sidelines, First Councilwoman Serena Longer faces the greatest challenge of her very long life: to keep her heart and her People safe.
To learn more about vampires, read Artemis’ Warriors, Book 1, The Vampire War.
https://www.amazon.com/Artemis-Warriors-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B0158NZ1L6
front cover artemis

COMING July 8th on Amazon! Arundia Returns, Book 2, The Vampire War.

If you love vampires, enjoy a good adventure with a sexy heroine, you don’t want to miss The Vampire War Trilogy!
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#RememberOrlando

ChooseToBe
49 dead. 53 injured. 25 still fighting for their lives in the hospitals in Florida. The worst massacre on United States soil since 9/11. Hate was the foundation for both 9/11 and the massacre in Orlando. On 9/11, people felt they had the right to “punish” the United States; that they were called by their “God” to do so. In Orlando, one man felt he had the right to “punish” people because they dared to show affection in public, and they happened to be gay. (Think how often you have kissed your loved, touched your loved one, in public…)
In spite of the Supreme Court decision on June 26, 2015 to be openly LGBTQ is still dangerous—not in some foreign nation, but right here in the United States.
Haters still cling to expressing their hatred in a number of ways. It is manifested by government officials refusing to issue a marriage license the looks the same as any heterosexual couples marriage license (one state issues a different looking marriage license for lesbian and gay couples). In some states, such as North Carolina, that hate is manifested in a wide variety of government-sanctioned ways, one of which is a restaurant owner hiding behind his Christianity can refuse to serve LGBT people. In several states that do not explicitly forbid discrimination against LGBTQ people, an employer can fire a lesbian or gay employee who gets married and asks to have her/his wife/husband covered by the employer’s insurance; or an apartment manager can evict a lesbian or gay family. Some states do not allow lesbian or gay couples to foster or adopt abandoned children.
On Sunday, June 12, 2016, around 2:40 a.m., as a crowded, LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida served its last round a man with a semi-automatic AR-15 that had the capacity to rapid fire 20 or more rounds–an assault weapon usually carried by the military in war zones; the same type of weapon that massacred people Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut. and San Bernadino, California–manifested his hate with a spray of deadly bullets.
For over three hours, people in that nightclub did not know whether they would live or die. One young man texted his mother: “in the bathroom” and a little later, “I’m gonna die”. He never made it home. A 22-year-old man had gone to the nightclub to listen to salsa music with his boyfriend. His bullet-riddled body was one of the ones carried out. A 31-year-old woman was dancing with her girlfriend when the shooting erupted. A 49-year-old heterosexual woman had gone to the club with her 21-year-old gay son. She had survived cancer twice; she didn’t survive the massacre.
Some political candidates–instead of focusing on the victims–are using this massacre to increase more hate. They want us to believe these kind of things are only perpetrated by Muslims associated with Islamic Terrorists and that therefore we should take strict measures against those who are Muslim, including banning their immigration into the United States. Unfortunately, the man responsible for the mass murders in Aurora, Colarado in 2012 was Caucasian and had no affiliation with Muslims or Islam; the boy who killed 20 6-and-7-year-old children and six adults was likewise Caucasian and had no affiliation with the Islamic Terrorists. In 2014, a young man murdered women and men because “women rejected his advances and sexually-active men had a more fun life than he did”. No affiliation with Islamic Terrorists. Men who proclaim to be Christians have routinely murdered black men and women and children since the days of slavery and the only organization with which they are affiliated is the Ku Klux Klan. Other radical, Christian groups have also periodically targeted blacks, LGBTQ people and others who were different than themselves.
These killings are not about religion; they are about hate. It is as simple as that. People who hate and have access to assault weapons can do more damage more quickly than those who do not have access to assault weapons. It is a simple equation even for someone like myself who “doesn’t do math”.
(NOTE:I believe in the right to own handguns, rifles and shotguns. Own a few myself; even have a Concealed Carry Permit. But civilians have no need to own assault weapons whose only use is to kill a massive number of people in as little time as possible without the need to reload frequently!)
The scary thing is this: for the past month I have been working on a new novel for my Special Crimes Team series. The working title is Eve of Destruction. It is about people who despise those who are not like them and make a decision to physically attack those people simply for the “crime” of being different.
CreatorLovesDiversity
I began writing Eve of Destruction in response to having a major political election with a candidate who preaches hate and discrimination. Such high level propagation of misogyny, racial bigotry, and religious hate is bound to fuel the hate and violence of those who already walk a fine line between civility and violence.
Although my Special Crimes Team series dissects serious issues in our society (as well as presenting a edge-of-the-seat mystery), my natural optimism always shows itself in my work. At the end, those who had been hard beset find ways to overcome.
While I read about the massacre in Florida, the death, the dying, the senseless violence, the hate of one man, I also read about victims who instead of blindly running away helped other victims escape; people who tore off their shirts to bind someone else’s wounds. I read about candlelight vigils and those who reached out to victims and their families and friends. I read about the real people; the everyday people of the United States, and that made me proud to live here, to be a U.S. citizen. It seems that regardless of how ugly a few people can get; how they can manifest their hatred of women, blacks, Latinos, LGBTQ, and anyone different than themselves there are others who remind me that people are often beautiful, brave, generous, and kind.
This is what keeps me optimistic. And it is this optimism that prevails in my work and my life. Though the massacre of innocent people occurs, and has been occurring with a frightening regularity in recent years, I believe that the people of the United States are basically good people; kind and just people. I believe that those people of common sense and basic human decency will overcome the haters.
CarryPeace
DON’T speak his name! Instead #SpeakNamesOfTheVictims!
http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/orlando-nightclub-massacre/orlando-massacre-what-we-know-about-victims-n591141

DON’T LET HATE WIN! LOVE CAN OVERCOME!

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