Saturday, November 29, 2008

Movies That Make Me Cry

Oh'd think by now that I would be desensitized to crying at movies.

Probably the one movie that has made me cry the most even to this day is The Color Purple. Then next would be Sophie's Choice, Schindler's List and Brad's favorite, Terms of Endearment.

I can now add another one to the list:  The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.

So, to make my list, the movie doesn't have to be a masterpiece- it doesn't really even have to be great.  But it does speak to something in me, and even if one scene turns on the sprinklers, I might consider adding it.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas touched me I think in several ways.  First, it is about the Holocaust, and I'm set up already to be amazed in horror at the brutality and senselessness.  

What is interesting and different though, is that we see the action through the eyes of an 8 year old German boy, who sees the world in a more honest and innocent way than most adults remember.

As he slowly begins to understand what the uniforms and barbed wire really mean, his innocence serves as a kind of wisdom that allows him to cut a swath of truth through the circumstances around him.

Yes, this movie was bordering on schmaltzy.  Yes, I know it was pulling at the heart strings in obvious ways, but putting that aside, there is a perspective here that didn't get lost with me.

The lessons of the Nazi era are still relevant today, if not more so.  

No one is trying to put gays into death camps in the US.

But we are subject to propaganda campaigns and less than equal civil rights.  Some religious leaders rail from the pulpit in ways that sound so similar to the Nazi propaganda in Boy in Pajamas or the whites determined to put poor Sophia down in Purple.

Stories of oppression out of fear and ignorance move me the most.  

See this movie.

Monday, November 24, 2008

New Article on LGBT relationships

I was quoted in an article that appeared today on's website. Check it out at

My Week of Gratitude

It's been an effort of mine over most of my adult life to find personal meaning in the various holidays that we celebrate on a national basis in this country.

For most of my childhood, Thanksgiving was first about eating turkey and big meals and lying around watching the Macy's parade and then football on the TV the rest of the day.

Once I got to school, Thanksgiving was more of a history lesson- the Pilgrims and the Native Americans coming together to celebrate the harvest and bounty of the land. Who hasn't made a Pilgrim hat out of cardboard or construction paper or traced around their hand to make a basic, but pleasing turkey image to color and take home to post on the fridge?

Loathe to celebate nowadays in a Hallmark-ian, commercial and rote way, I try most years to focus on the Thanks-giving part of it. Or in another word, I try to spend a little time truly feeling gratitude for the wonderful parts of my life BEFORE someone goes around the table and I'm struck dumb with stage fright and my mind goes blank.

I've learned a lot about gratitude in my clinical practice.

I watch people who have lost almost everything to tragic circumstances still find the grace to express gratitude for the things they still have left. I'm grateful for that because it makes me humble. I have so much even on my worst days.

Gratitude seems to have some healing properties. Oprah knows it because she's always talking about gratitude and even had a guest once who promoted keeping a gratitude journal. The guest's suggestion was to keep a notebook by your bed and before you go to sleep, write down five things you are grateful for, for that day.

I think shifting your perception away from the things that you DON'T have or how things haven't gone the way they "should" have gone, to focusing on the joy you do have, is an amazing process. I watch my own anger dissolve into peace, my frustration melt into quiet joy when I stop and think about how far I've come.

So, here are some things I'm contemplating this week.

(1) During a year when marriage rights were granted and taken away, I married the man of my dreams. And even if the legal "right" was taken away, he will still be in my life and will be there for me forever.

(2) My best friend Rob, who has been in my life for almost 18 years, faced down cancer this year, and won. It was one of those breath-holding times of your life when you really know what matters most and what not to take for granted.

(3) I made a major career move this year, leaving a practice where I had invested so much of myself, to start over in a new venue. At times overwhelming and scary, I've learned so much about myself and what's really important over the past few months. I am thankful for what I am learning about meaning and purpose this year.

(4) As my mother continues to battle with a progressive decline in health, I am grateful that my father is strong enough to make her journey better. His example, of "for better or worse", reminds me of the power of commitment and faith.

(5) This year, my little book on self-esteem, that nobody seemed to want to publish again, was given new life at the last minute through the efforts of a kind and generous agent in Boston, Sorche Fairbank, and found it a new home with Alyson Books. Lately, I've been hearing from readers who have found that it is making a difference for them and that makes a difference for me.

(6) I am so grateful for Ella, who makes me laugh, who makes me walk her, and who tells me when it's time to stop focusing on TV too much and pay attention to her! She's my natural mood "Ella-vator", even when I want to worry about this and that.

(7) Finally, I'm grateful for change in America. I am so hopeful that Obama and company are going to change the path of selfishness and greed that we've been on and will help heal some of the deep wounds left after years of war and neglect.

And I'm thankful for the readers of this blog, who may not even know how much I appreciate it when you say that my words have some meaning for you. Actually, I'm even grateful for the idea of you being out there because it makes me stop and think. I'm grateful for you.

Thanks. And I wish you a bountiful harvest of gratitude this year.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What Straight People Can Do

I gotta tell you that I feel much better today about Prop 8 than I did on November 5th.

Gay and lesbian people everywhere seem to be energized and I'm terribly proud of the marches and protests that have been a long time coming.

On the other hand, when you step back a little, the fact that Prop 8 passed with so little support, after outright lies by the proponents and millions of dollars coming in from organized religions outside of California, we definitely have the "momentum" as courageous "out" leader, Mark Leno so eloquently stated yesterday in a rally in San Francisco.  Something that seemed so unlikely in my lifetime, and I say that sincerely, is almost here.

It's wonderful to see gay people stand up, fight back and demand to be treated civilly and equally in a country founded on freedom and justice for all.

Yet, real change for gay people will only come when good NON-gay people stand  up and make a difference in their own families, communities and churches.  Voting against Prop 8 is great and a lot of straight people voted against it, not because they were particularly "for" gay rights, but because they were intelligent enough to realize that just because they may not share someone else's lifestyle, this is a democracy and taking away any law-abiding subgroups rights is just plain wrong.

Brad and I are blessed to have many loving straight friends and family members.  They make our lives so much richer and take the edge off the harsh reality of living in a homophobic society at large.  I know that many of them talked to others about their stand on Prop 8 and did their best to make a difference.

To that end, I have a few suggestions for the straight people out there who know that Prop 8 is wrong and aren't quite sure what they can do about it besides attending a rally or holding up a sign.  Here's a few things to think about if you're of the change mind.

First, think about the emotion behind the proponents of Prop 8.  No matter what kind of intellectual, rationalized answer they may give you about "protecting the sanctity of marriage" or "continuing a tradition of one woman, one man in a marriage", remember that ultimately behind their stance is fear- fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of people who are different.

It's the same fear that kept the racists of the 20th century burning crosses and menacing our brothers and sisters of African American heritage.  It's the same fear that kept average German citizens quiet while the Jews were shipped to Auschwitz and that prompted them to put on the Nazi uniform and perform atrocious acts against their better natures. Many racist whites and Nazi Germans weren't evil people by nature, they were driven to do evil things by their own need to belong, to feel strong and to be safe.  It doesn't excuse their behaviors, but it does explain at least some of it.

A gay person trying to talk about this issue to someone who is encased in fear and rigidly holds on to a posture of defensiveness won't have nearly the opportunity to get inside than a non-gay person would have about this issue.  A black person will never  have the same power to denounce racism in a racist society than a white person would have.  It's too easy to dismiss the speaker as self-serving and too easy to close your ears against an impassioned speech in front of a large crowd.

What does work is using every opportunity you have to talk to people who you care about and who care about you about why you think that full civil rights is an American issue and a fairness issue.  You are the Germans of the 1930's and the non-racist whites of the 1960's who had a chance to stop something awful, except this is now and you have the power.

Here is my list of simple things you could do to stay in the fight for rights:

(1) Educate yourself about gay people.  Do you your homework and read the research studies that have shown again and again that gay people are not crazy, nor are they sick and that they make quite excellent parents and contributors to society.  There hasn't been ONE credible study to suggest otherwise despite the myths to the contrary.  Take a look at the American Psychological Association's large overview of research on GLBT parenting studies in 2005 if you want facts, not fiction (

If you are a religious person, learn about religious views that do NOT condemn homosexuality and in fact, there are just as many interpretations of the Bible that would condemn homophobia as unholy as would condemn any particular group of people (

(2) Put a bumper sticker on your car about Prop 8 or Marriage Equality for All. (

(3) Talk to your clergy person about how you feel about this issue.  Approach them in a nonconfrontational way and let them know that your experience with a gay friend or family member is different from what the religious hierarchy may be teaching.  Let them know that you don't support using the pulpit as a forum for political ideas.  Ask them how they reconcile the teaching of Jesus (if you are a Christian) who was all about love, with church stands that lead to harm.

(4) If you regularly tithe or donate to a religious institution that is openly anti-gay, consider skipping a donation and in its place, putting a note about your reluctance to support speech that contributes to the harassment of gays.  If you can't bring yourself to put your lack of money where your mouth is, attach a note to your hard earned cash stating how you feel about contributions used to support hate speech or to interfere in the American political process.

(5) Join Soulforce, an organization devoted to nonviolent change within mainstream organized religions towards gay people. 

(5) Don't be afraid to say "that's not funny" if someone makes a homophobic remark or joke at work.

(6) Vote for political candidates who have a good record on civil rights for everyone, including gay people (

(7) Join the Human Rights Campaign Fund ( or the American Civil Liberties Union ( Both are politically active organizations that support equal rights for everyone.

(8) Donate to the Lambda Legal Defense Fund ( or the National Center for Lesbian Rights (  Both organizations joined the lawsuit to challenge Prop 8 after its passage.

All of these involved only a bit of your time.  None of them needs to be aggressive or confrontational.  Do what you can.

Thank you.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Keith Olberman: Patriot and Hero

This is truly amazing. Please watch it and forward it to everyone you know.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Palin 4 Prez 2012

It's finally sunk in.  The election is over, it was REAL and I was not just dreaming all this.

Obama doesn't disappoint as he is already ahead of the curve with his transition team and plans, much like he ran his superb campaign.

Honestly, think about it.  You can be assured that a candidate will govern like they run their campaign.  Obama showed discipline throughout all the negative attacks.  He showed grace under the most vile circumstances, and he never lost his focus on the prize.

Grumpy McCain however, showed exactly what kind of President he would have been- undisciplined, erratic, impulsive and self-serving.  I mean come on, Sarah Palin was the best he could find?  Let's be real, this woman is the worst of the worst- someone not very smart, who doesn't know she's not very smart but actually thinks she's got what it takes!

I have to pity her.  

She's the Dan Quayle of the 21st Century (sorry Dan- I actually think  you're smarter than Caribou Barbie).  The Kato Kaelin  to McCain's OJ Simpson.  The Vanna White to Pat Sajak.

And knowing the right wing fundies the way I do, they are LOATHE to admit they were wrong when they first hooted and hollered about her at the convention when no one knew her.

Well, boy, do we know her now.  She is ambitious, but not wise.  She's pretty but not poised and she doesn't know when to shut up.

You know, I could actually forgive someone who was gracious about their shortcomings.  If there was one hint of recognition that she was not ready or that she didn't have the capacity to be ready any time soon, I might be able to salvage some respect for her.  But she doesn't.

And just because McCain was able to deliver a speech that someone else wrote for his concession, that made him sound like the person we all thought he was, I'm not buying it.

It's like Joe Lieberman, the turncoat traitor to all Democrats, who suddenly wants to "work" with President-elect Obama.  Where were you three weeks ago Joe?

As far as I can see, Joe, John and Sarah share the same fatal flaw-  they love themselves more than they love their country.

Hey, I think it's a FANTASTIC idea to get Palin pumped up to run for President in 2012!!  I mean, first of all, she'll never be ready, because she doesn't have the intelligence necessary.  The intelligence of a Hilary Clinton or Olympia Snow for example.  

Maybe she could even pick Elizabeth Dole to run as her VP, now THAT's a ticket!

Between the "you betchas" and "you godless whores" from those two, you have to admit that it would be wildly entertaining.  Let's make Sarah the face of the new Republican Party!!! PLEASE!!!

I might even donate.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mixed Emotions

I am so happy still that America made the right choice yesterday to elect Barack Obama. I am also thrilled that my home state of North Carolina was a part of the change process yesterday. Goodbye Jesse Helms and Helms in a dress, Libby Dole. Hello Governor Purdue!!

But sadly, and I didn't realize that it would hit me this hard, Prop 8 passed.

There will be no more gay marriages in California. We are apparently not good enough. We are evil because we have "promiscuis" sex outside of marriage, but we also cannot now be married to the person we love. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. I'm sorry I threaten you. I didn't mean to.

Check out what is happening legally with Prop 8 now through the ACLU at the link above. Support the ACLU, Lambda Legal Defense Fund and the National Center for Lesbian Rights with a donation if you can.

So, what do I do when I am so profoundly hurt by my fellow Americans? I will think of the old fable that I always try to remember when something happens that confuses me.

It goes like this:

Once upon a time, in an ancient land far away, there was an old farmer.

His family farm was small and he ran it with the help of his 18 year old son and their strong work horse.

The horse was the center of the farm, pulling the plow in the field, carrying the farmer and his son to market and hauling away the brush and debris.

One day, the farmer's son accidentally left open the gate to the corrall at the end of the day and the next morning, the horse was gone.

The old farmer's neighbor, in a gesture of sympathy, comes over to commiserate with the wise old farmer. "I'm so sorry for your loss. What a terrible thing to happen!" to which the wise old farmer replies "Who knows what is good or bad?".

The neighbor, surprised by the old man's response persists. "But your horse was the center of everything here!! You can't plow your fields or haul your produce to market!".

Again, the farmer replies "Who knows what is good or bad?"

The next day, when the son got up to tend to his chores, he rubbed his eyes in amazement when he saw that not only had the family horse returned to the corrall, but ten wild horses had followed him home!

The neighbor, quick to celebrate, encouraged the farmer to express his joy over his bounty.

"You are a rich man! What a wonderful thing! It's a miracle!"

To which the wise old farmer replies, "Who knows what is good or bad?".

Again, the neighbor scratches his head, puzzled at the farmer's seeming indifference, and walks home.

Later that day, while the son was trying to tame one of the wild horses, he was thrown from the horse, breaking his leg in two places.

The neighbor, feeling the young man's pain, exhorts the old man to admit that this event was truly awful.

"You son was injured and is suffering needlessly!"

"Who knows what is good or bad" he replies.

Frustrated, the neighbor leaves, feeling bad about the son and worse about the father.

The next morning, the farmer and his son are greeted by a sharp knock on the door.

They are greeted by a military leader, looking for young men to take to war. He cannot take the farmer's son because of his injury.

The moral of the story?


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

McCain, Palin Lieberman say goodbye to careers

I have never been more excited than when President-elect Obama took the stage to address his supporters. It was a moment of awe and inspiration for me. I never thought that in my lifetime, I would see the white elitist, neocon movement put in its place, among the diseased and dying of this country.

I am SO glad to be saying goodbye to Bush/Cheney/Rove. Good riddance. Get out of here!!

Time for bed, McCain/Palin/Lieberman! Your time is done and your moments in the spotlight are over. Time to give back the wardrobe and for Tina Fey to focus on 30 Rock. You can keep us safe from Russia by guarding your post with a gun in Alaska, Sarah.

Time to end this war in Iraq and to buildup our middle class again.

Time to provide healthcare for everyone in this country.

Time to rejoice that the Supreme Court will have a chance for reason and fairness again.

I will sleep better tonight, even as Prop 8, that ugly piece of anti-American trash initiative leads with 12% of the vote counted.

Go to bed and dream of a better America and a chance for all of us to succeed.
UPDATE: Ok, so Lieberman remains in power after Obama turned the other cheek and let him stay in the Demo caucus. But he's been warned at least. And I'm learning from Obama to stop thinking in the old way of "Win/Lose" when it comes to politics.
At least Palin continues to "OPEN MOUTH...INSERT FOOT" on a regular national TV basis!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Election eve eve jitters and Prop 8

Well, we're down to less than 48 hours before election day.  The polls are crazy, as are the pundits.  McCain has "momentum" here and Obama has it there.  People seem to be darned anxious in the Obama camp.   I like to call it "PESD" or Post-Election Stress Disorder from the last two elections that the idiot Bush was able to steal.  Why wouldn't we be nervous with all the spin from the McCain camp, the past horrible eight years and SARAH PALIN potentially a heart-beat away??

Given the craziness of the general election though, I'm even more nervous about Prop 8 in California.  I just don't want to believe that there are people so threatened by me that they would vote to take away civil rights.

The truth is however, and I'm saying this to any right wingers that happened to drift to this blog (if any), your vote on Tuesday will not make ONE difference in my relationship with Brad. I will love him the same no matter the title you allow us to have and no matter the legal benefits you take away.  Our relationship is not based on your consent, nor your approval.  

We will continue to live together in our home and we will continue to be your neighbor.  We will continue to be responsible adults and will continue to pay more than our share of income taxes, which will go to improve your children's schools and the roads that you drive on to go to work.  

Brad will continue to go to St. Charles Church despite the shameful position the Catholic hierarchy took on this issue.  He will continue to help people who are dying, regardless of whether they voted for this proposition or not.  I will continue to help people who are suicidal because they live in severe chronic pain no matter what slur they've ever said about gay people, and some of them will never know that their psychologist is queer.

If this passes and you take away our legal right to marriage, we will watch you enjoy the benefits of your marriage and will likely say nothing to make you feel embarrassed or self-conscious because of the inequity.  We will watch you abuse the institution by cheating and separating and divorcing but we will not wish for you the same kind of second-class status that you wish for us.  

We will still be Americans because we were born here and we will act like full citizens, even if we do not have the full rights of a heterosexual immigrant who chooses to become naturalized.

Would McCain offer me an extra tax break to compensate for my lack of full civil rights in this country?