Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Referendum 65: Hate in Washington State

Washington State’s Referendum 65 to repeal Bill HB2661’s protection from discrimination for sexual orientation is a bitter pill of mean-spiritedness that Washington Christian churches seem happy in passing out. Tim Eyman, who proposed the referendum, asked 5,400 churches to make May 21st and 28th “Referendum Sunday” in order to help collect the 112,440 signatures needed by June 7th to put the referendum on the November ballot. Going into May 21st, over 33,000 signatures had been collected.

Sound the Alarm, a conservative group who exists to oppose equal rights for LGBT people, distributed over 5,000 DVD’s to be played in services starting May 21st. The 2,600+ members of Northshore Baptist Church watched the six minute video which explained that because gay and lesbians could no longer be discriminated against, “Our civil rights laws no longer exist to protect people (simply) because they have inane value as human beings” and that if this referendum is not passed it is “likely” that ministers will be put in prison for speaking the “truth.” The justification is both the carrot of explaining that people only “believe” they are homosexual or transsexual (You are four times more likely to try and kill yourself as part of the Exodus program than you are to change orientation) and the stick of gay marriage and “crossdressers in the classroom”. For the first time ever, female to male transsexuals are held up in a political debate as the ultimate threat to children. Congrats to FTM’s – you are now visible enough to be hated too.

Ken Hutcherson, Pastor of the Antioch Bible Church, is also a member of the board of Sound the Alarm. You may remember him from last year when he convinced Microsoft to withdraw support from state bill 1515 regarding protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination. That bill lost by one vote. But now that Bill HB2661 has passed, God is calling him to make sure that Christians continue to have the “right” to harass, discriminate or fire LGBT people. He ran into some initial difficulty as it was noticed he was collecting signatures on rented school grounds, but a call was sent out the “Prayer Warriors” and within 24 hours the Lake Washington school district reversed itself. God does like to joke with us now and then doesn’t she?

While groups like Faith and Freedom are behind the movement, the national conservative groups like Concerned Woman of America have also leant their support. The strangest advocate is The Christian Medical and Dental Association which has published its own “factsheet” on Referendum 65 where it states, in direct opposition to the AMA and all other medical and psychiatric associations, “it should be malpractice not to inform those considering or engaging in homosexual behavior that the option for change exists.” If my dentist stops mid-root canal or my doctor stops mid-pap smear to let me know that “change is possible”, I might say anything in sheer terror, it would still have zero effect on my sexual orientation. It would likely have a very high effect on how much I ever trust a doctor or dentist again.

Referendum 65 is yet another attempt of some Christians to define their “rights” as ones which require the elimination or silencing of people who don’t fit within their world view. Faith and Freedom president worries: “One has to ask, “Should the Washington Department of Health be promoting and celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning month?”" Simple answer: Yes. We are equal citizens and human beings, why not promote awareness of the health issues regarding LGBTQ individuals? Sound the Alarm states its need to overthrow BillHB2661 because “It is part of a systematic effort to normalize homosexuality”. News Flash! We are normal. Diversity is normal. And these hate groups posing under the name of Christianity beg the question: When will Christians start organizing or speaking out to oppose those who dispense hatred and intolenance in their name? Soon?

jpeg 1 - http://www.sfu.ca/~kynnins/images/homoland.jpg

Monday, May 29, 2006

My ossuary, zombie armies & your brains

Linda has given me the gift that keeps on giving: a cold. All the more irritating because I am genetically susceptible to communicable infections and take strict precautions: I only go out at night, I avoid churches and I drink the blood of innocents to give me strength. Errrr...forget I said that; those are the things I do regarding a different ailment.

Besides sitting around thinking about how much it hurts to breathe, swallow or do anything, I have had time to play with my box of skulls I picked up in Seattle. An Ossuary Box from The Skull Collection; it just caught my fancy. “I thought you were done with that stuff.” Linda said with a ‘do we have to go to cemeteries EVERY holiday trip?’ in her voice. But it’s just so pretty: I can’t decide whether to keep it for pirate booty or save it for my knucklebone collection. (somewhat like “The Amityville Toaster” but only partial dead hand involved)

In case my illness turns south, I have been making preparations for my life after death. First and foremost are the little details involved with raising a Zombie Army for me to command and unleash as the Zombie Queen. Beyond the usual incantations, I have been practicing my Zombie Guerrilla tactics in the free massive online player game, Urban Dead. This game simulates a zombie apocalypse similar in scope to what will likely happen in any city where I happen to die.

To cheer you up from the thought of running for your life while my minions try to suck your brains, I propose relaxing with Cupid’s Last Stand from the demented creator of Childrin R Skary. If you needed any further convincing it has both classical music and flying monkeys, which means it must be educational!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Would you card this woman?

For hundreds of years, men have searched for an elixir or secret cure to make them young. Women, over the years, have searched for just the right material and cut of clothing to make them LOOK young. In Seattle, we found it.

The question is: If you were serving alcohol, would you card this woman? Linda bought this brown pullover and less than an hour after putting it on, was carded for buying alcohol. Later, several people confirmed that yes, they would have carded her too.

My experience that day was different. Two blocks after leaving the hostel, a guy started yelling that he would “do me” and that though I was tall, he was up to the challenge. I am thinking about putting out a world map showing the cities around the world where men have told me in various languages that they would be gracious enough to “stick me”, “pork me” or otherwise enjoy me carnally. Linda thinks I send out an aura of unattainability which makes me the sexual equivalent of Everest.

Soon after, while shopping at Old Navy, the change-room clerk wanted to know how tall I was. I told her I was 6’3”.

Clerk: “Oh, I saw another woman in here as tall as you.”

Me: “Really?”

Clerk: “Yeah, but she was like a model. Tall and just like a model. Even her clothes; your clothes are nice but she dressed like a model.”

Me: “Er?”

Clerk: “And thin too, you know, tall like you, but thin, just like a model.”

Me: “I’m going back in the change-room now.”

Yeah, too many orders of chicken wings on this trip, that’s for sure when strangers start trashing your clothes and weight.

We stayed at the Green Tortoise Hostel, which used to be an old sex hotel. As you can see, they have redone the rooms to look like a 10 year old’s bedroom. It does not come with star wars underoo’s; you will need to bring your own. Our traveling bear is on the bed with my new epee. The hostel is also located next door to the needle exchange, which may be a plus for some. While in the common room I listened as three guys talked about how Seattle was so cool because you could get any drug you wanted. One of them had just come back from a drug run and they fantasized about how great it would be if the local dealer came by a couple times a day to the common room instead of having to go find him. It was after that Linda and I decided not to book her parents there.

As for me, my search for the perfect clothing goes on. I did try on several pairs of jeans that cut were so low, I couldn’t tie up my shoelaces without breaking a few different indecency laws. And at Victoria Secret I got an exercise top that is so cool and wondrous that to actually sweat in it would be a crime, which is why I now have an exercise outfit for actually exercising in and this new exercise outfit for simply standing around, using the best effect of backlighting and letting people buy me juice drinks. But until I find the outfit which makes someone ask, “Shouldn’t you be in school today?”, the search goes on.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Seattle Epee: drinking, lefties & my ass

The danger of trying to mix epee fencing and a vacation is when you spend two hours drinking margaritas and eating chicken wings before walking wobbly off to fence. Linda came with me as we weaved our way to the Seattle fencing salle (with my brand new FIE blade).

The Seattle fencers started with 30-40 minutes of footwork which focused on a lot of things I had never heard before, most of it foil based: scissor recovery, half-advance, half lunge, slow-fast retreat and hanging lunge. There was also a great deal of work on the ballista which is a hop forward with a loud slap of the foot. “What is gained with the ballista?” The instructor asked after a series of ballistras into a lunge. “About two inches” I muttered. I have never found it of any use in epee as it is the equivalent of holding up a sign saying “Get ready to hit me as I am about to attack you.” I struggled on with footwork, being the only one both dripping sweat and burping cajun chicken wings.

The lack of training and eating rich foods from my prolonged birthday celebrations left me wrung out simply from footwork training. The whole wheezing and gasping for breath was probably taking away from my making a dramatic and imposing image. Unfortunately because the club had 17 strips for fencing, it meant no one judged, so there were no set bouts, just the fencing on and on until you drop style. Going to be a long night.

I started by fencing Morgan, who was primarily a foilist but fences team epee at the nationals. I totally smoked her. I think she was on epee to give me a chance to fence different people. She might have gotten a point on me once. This cheered me up immensely as there is nothing like total and overwhelming victory to boost confidence. We finished with a five point bout which I won 5-0.

Swaggering off the strip I met Anna and we agreed to fence. She told me this was her first day back fencing as she had been in the hospital having a tumor removed (non-cancerous thankfully) and only last week had she been able to lunge again. She was in her early 50’s, my first left handed fencer and the shortest epeeist I had ever faced at 5’3”. Due to her recent hospitalization I decided to take it easy and did a half speed lunge to her forearm. Before I could complete the lunge, she counter-lunged, setting my helmet ringing with her epee. What the? I did another slow attack, and same result, she burst out of the starting gate tagging my arm. That’s it, I don’t care if you are dragging an IV bag, I’m gonna get you.

She was fast and no matter what I did, I couldn’t stop getting doubles (simultaneous hits). Now when I am a foot taller than the person I am fencing, I should be able to get them before they get me, so every double hit was getting me more and more frustrated. Then she fleched; a lefty fleche. I stood there watching it as my body wailed that it didn’t know what to do. She did it again. Plus I was having the problem of having my attacks slide just over the top of her shoulder; it was so far down that it was at elbow level. Basically, she handed my ass to me. In long attacks, she got doubles; in close body second attacks, she dominated. Often she moved and lowered her body to get under my blade. Next time I will work harder at keeping distance. But it was good to fence a lefty, as I learned what lefties do best, avoid the common parry and attack on the outside of the arm. In case total humiliation wasn’t enough after we finished she started making “kind” remarks how I was doing “okay...for the amount of time I had been doing epee.” I kept reminding myself to smile as there were sparks coming out from between my molars I was grinding them so hard. Ahhhh, that’s it, come back here, I am going to crush you! The coach giving lessons overheard her telling me she didn’t really compete and pulled off his helmet, “Don’t listen to her. You know who that is? She’s the 2003 National Champion; 2005 Champion and member of the US World Championship team.” That cheered me up somewhat but I left still muttering under my breath, “next time…next time.”

After drinking some water I fenced Alex, a red-headed lefty guy who was going to the World Cup in July as he made the top 32 in the last World Cup. I took the first few points easily and could hear some muttered swearing along with “that reach!” He changed his game to defensive to stay out of reach of my blade and soon we were chasing each other up and down the strip. In one particularly long engagement we had fought all the way to both ends of the strip and were coming back to do it again. I gave a half lunge to his arm, he retreated, but slow enough that I gave a full lunge to his thigh My point floated a few tantalizing millimeters out of reach. In a microsecond decision I launch myself in a horizontal dive for his calf, trying to get the hit before my knees hit the floor (after which the point wouldn’t count). After a floor jarring landing Alex stood there asking if I was okay while I struggled to turn over, “Did I get the touch? Did I get the touch?” I did.

Alex was excited and kept telling me to go to the World Cup as “they do stuff like that all the time.” He played a smart game of defense and distance as I tried new and sometimes wild techniques to try and attack his position. His lefty defense not only let him sneak attacks on my outer arm but also took away all my targets, even those I used as defense attacks while retreating. Soon the points starting turning to Alex. I was frustrated as I knew that what I was doing wasn’t working and I needed to change, but with so many new elements, I wasn’t sure what to do. Normally I would go away and think up a new strategy, only this time I wasn’t coming back for a while, I needed something now. I walked up and down the strip for a minute or two as I reviewed our bouts in my head. I concluded that he had too much experience with fencing right handed fencers for me to challenge his position so I would attack his timing, by getting him to move the blade, but keep attacking his wrist and epee guard to force him to keep back. The difference worked and we pulled even again, even though each point was driving me to total exhaustion. We finished up with a three point match; victory at 3-2 to me.

Alex gave me some good advice about using my reach to my best advantage in competition, which is to get those first few points and then force the shorter person to chase me instead of taking it to them. If I practice more with the ping-pong on precision hits and work on distance, then as long as I stay ahead in points, I will always have them chasing me to catch up. Plus, he noticed I wasn’t using my arm as much as I should in a lunge. “Arms are faster than legs” he said, a saying so applicable to me I want to get it put above my ping-pong ball.

Physically I was dragging but pulled myself together to fence Kundra. On the way to the strip I stumbled over another epee fencer, some guy with a stubbly goatee. “I’ll be back for you” I threatened weakly. Yeah, real imposing. Kundra is going to the nationals this year because she placed so high in last year’s Nationals. But as an epeeist, she was very passive. so I went through my rotation of different attacks on her, most of which worked perfectly. As she still didn’t seem to want to attack, I went through my secondary attacks, which are attacks I am trying to build up, like long advancing lunges, foot attacks and such. I eventually asked to stop as not only were we the last people fencing but the floor was getting slippery from all my “glow.” She seemed rather down on my thinking about competition but Linda thought that might be because Kundra wasn’t doing as well this year in rankings as she would have liked. Linda tries to remind me now and then that everything that goes on isn’t always about me (wha?).

I was really happy to get the opportunity to fence two lefties for 40 minutes as now, when I face one in competition, I won’t fall apart. I also tried to get some tips from everyone I fenced, as having someone see you fresh is valuable. I fenced three different women but my favorite fencer for the night ended up being Alex (not a woman). I think once I had a better grip with Anna’s style that could be good too, but it was with Alex I had a sort of “conversation by fencing” as our fencing evolved, changing our styles and techniques to counter the actions of each other. Alex was also encouraging, positive and the only person I’ve fenced who thought a flying dive to his ankles was a great thing.

Bottom line: I don’t totally suck at epee and come autumn Elizabeth is going to competition!

Jpeg 3 - http://www.tribuneindia.com/2004/20040830/olympics/others/images/o4.jpg
Jpeg 2 -http://www.fencing2005.com/images/presse/Fotos5/Touya1.JPG

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Zed: Book of the Year or just roadkill?

The results of the March 2006 short lists for the ForeWord Book of the Year award have been announced. My book, Zed, was one of fourteen in the category Science Fiction (urban decaying hell is now science fiction?). And in keeping with the title of this blog SCREW BRONZE! Because....I won Gold. In fact Zed was the only Canadian book to win Gold. There is a news story in Canada's book magazine, Quill and Quire. Huzzah! I lead the nation. It is a nation small in numbers admittedly, but we are very prolific writers. Sadly, I did not get the editor’s choice for the best of the hundreds of books on the long list so I do not get the prize of $1,500 (Curses!)

The prizes for each category are selected by booksellers and librarians; the people who are caretakers of getting good books into the hands of the people who want them. Winning was a double surprise because Zed is STILL not available in the US; I checked with Borders this morning and they are expecting the book within a week or two. For online purchase I recommend getting TWO copies at Amazon.com in order to get free shipping (one for you and one to give to your mother to scare her about what you could be doing if you were a writer) or the current lowest price is at Buy.com (doesn’t include shipping). If you want a good read, read Zed, the people who love books enough to make it their career just gave it a gold star (and when you finish, write me about what you think of it – preferably in crayon with spelling mistakes and a dead animal enclosed).

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Seattle living: Stalking & Ninjas

Travel is a very educational experience. Linda and I were stalked for the last three blocks by a strange short man in green. The girl at the hostel tells me, "Don't worry about him, he'll follow you but he's too heavily medicated to do anything." Oh good.

Today I saw a fight between three christian street preachers outside the mall: the baptist preacher in his black suit and white hat was winning with pure volume but the two evangelicals had joined to tag teaming him with theological arguements, moving him out out of the prime preaching spot.

Coming back to our hostel I saw the award winning begging sign - "FAMILY KILLED BY NINJAS: Need money for kung fu lessons." That pretty much killed my dreams about becoming homeless because I don't think I can top that sign.

I'd blog longer but am being driven off the public hostel terminal. This is primarily due to the guy at the table next to me who, in the last 20 minutes has tried to get four different girls to have sex with him. It seems more of a career to him than a hobby. His key phrase is, "You know, it is all about the experience, living the now and being open to everything that is going on." Are there still girls drunk enough in hostels to fall for that? If so, can I use that line?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Deeply disturbed, Seattle and Epee Bruises

For those who like the kind of humor which is so, call it edgy, that telling someone else about enjoying it makes you sound deeply disturbed (like dealing with the gas crises by learning how to sell your “company” for ½ a tank), I recommend This Comic Sucks. The link will take you to a story about a man who was killed by having sex with a horse. Which I will admit is pretty disturbing. What is more disturbing is that the incident is true and took place a short boat ride from me.

The fact that I am leaving on said boat ride, has much more to do with my overwhelming need to bruise Americans with my new birthday epee than to track down Seattle’s bestiality industry (which the Komo news report condemns before taking specific pains to point out how it is NOT illegal). Due to advise from Linda, instead of attacking people on the street I will be going to Salle Auriol Seattle. Feel free to look me up if you are in town and need a new coat of bruises.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Skaters, stoners and high school girls

Did my birthday wish come true? I didn’t kiss the girl I had a crush on in high school but I was surrounded by a couple hundred high school girls. Things don't always work out like you hope though.

Except getting a new epee sword, my birthday sucked. I didn’t get drunk, I didn’t get lingerie as La Senza doesn’t sell it anymore, least not in my town. Linda offered lipstick instead: my Dior choice was discontinued and the Lancome one isn’t available. I ended up going home early, as Saturday I would check for presents at my Port Angeles post office box.

Due schedule changes, I was stuck in Port Angeles for 5 hours. I wanted Port Angeles to prove to me that it wasn’t just a town of bearded men, potheads and women with shifty eyes; I really did.

Here I am in Port Angeles trying to get lunch: I walk to Subway, but am blocked by a 19 year old slacker skateboarder with facial hair. He scuffs his feet as he meanders along the sideway, interrupted by the scraping of the skateboard he is holding as it hits the sidewalk. This threatens to trip him up, making him stop as his brain tries to figure out how to walk and hold a skateboard at the same time. At Subway, the town baseball team is in line, most of them have facial hair. Directly in front of me is “Drummer man” a 20-something goatee guy whose mental demons are doing a congo-line in his brain forcing him to start drumming with his fingers before progressing to full out hand slapping personal rhythms on any available surface for the 15 minutes of intimate time we have together in line. Time in line slightly amused by goatee freak: 2 seconds. Time spent trying to make his head or hands explode with mental powers later used to control my overwhelming urge to grab his neck and squeeze while screaming “Die, Die, Die you noise inducing plague of societal decay!!!”: 14 minutes 58 seconds.

I have my sandwich, I sit to eat. The guy a booth over has decided to try and whistle along to the elevatorized music piped into the seating area. He’s not very good at whistling and seems to have a special hearing difficulty which makes him slightly off EVERY SINGLE NOTE. When he gets excited he tries to sing along, and eat at the same time. I have no place to go; he has no place to go – this is entertainment on a Saturday in Port Angeles.

I find the one used book store in town called “The Puzzle & Book Shop”, the girl inside doesn’t look up when I come in, she is turning over jigsaw puzzle pieces. She never looks up, not even when I ask questions about books. “I don’t know, I don’t know.” She keeps repeating that until I moved away from her. She turns over more jigsaw puzzle pieces.

There is a theatre so I go to a movie. I want to know when the movie ends as my ferry leaves at 5:15. I really want to be on that ferry. The usher, who I will call Tom instead of stupid-stoner-19-year-old doesn’t know when the movie ends. I point out that the next film starts at 5:00 – how big is the gap between films? He stares at me, “I’m sorry,” he clutches his head, “There was a question?” he staggers back a few paces. “I’ve been here two months.” He gives me a confused smile and can’t remember if I gave him the ticket stub he is holding in his hand. I leave Tom and go to the “entertainment center” which has five games and a pinball machine. Only one game is plugged in. This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.

On my way back to the ferry I pass the three guys standing outside the town bar. They don’t have any money to go inside. They are looking for anyone they recognize. Maybe later someone will come by who will buy them a drink. They don’t want to leave the area in case that happens. They were there when I got off the ferry at noon.

After five hours in Port Angeles I start to wonder how hard it is to pull the trigger of a shotgun with my toes; it’s that sort of town.

On Monday, Canada will celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday. Queen Victoria is long dead. In Britain, where Queen Victoria ruled, they couldn’t care less about Queen Victoria or her birthday. But Canadians do. In Victoria, they hold a parade and a competition of high school marching bands. This year 32 high school marching bands are coming to Victoria to compete. The Saturday afternoon 5:15 ferry from Port Angeles carries most of these bands: hundreds of teenagers in a confined space and me.

All the teenage girls are there. There are the girls who stand, listless and vain, looking 19 and modelish, waiting for the boys and girls who want to be their friends to approach them. There are the girls who spend the entire time in the bathroom, primping. There are the chunky girls and girls with acne who try to attach themselves to different groups. There are the smart and articulate girls who spend most of the time talking to the adult chaperones. There are the insecure girls who cling to oafish and selfish boys. There are the shy girls, and the ones whose clothes make them look awkward and foolish and the ones who change looks every week trying to find one that fits. One girl walks past wearing a man’s necktie with a skeleton on it. Cool. Then there are the girls who give off a “fuck-you” attitude. One has a butch blue spiky haircut and walks around like she doesn’t care about anyone or anything. I think she is probably the most vulnerable of them all.

Surrounded by hundreds of high school students, I remember high school. There will never be another time I knew so much about so many people as high school. There will also be no other time when I will feel so utterly alone. Make a misstep and you were out; don’t say the right thing to the queen bee or like the wrong movie or have the wrong fashion and you are shunned. Like I cared? I hoped they believed that.

I was accused of not having school spirit. I used to cheer for the faculty in student/faculty games. I once got booed by the entire assembly of the high school student body for being the only person to NOT support the football team by buying a dance ticket. Two people even bought tickets in my name; I returned them. I hated my private religious school and the way they tried to force me to think, and look and be the same. I hated those who bought into that and I wanted them to hate me. I wanted them to hate me because I hated myself for being a coward; I was smart, I was awkward, I was closeted. I couldn’t wait to leave high school for the “real” world where you weren’t given special treatment on your looks or who you know, where there aren’t any cliques, or exclusion, where being different isn’t a big deal and where the most important thing is what you can do instead of who your boyfriend is. Yeah. Love those high school days.

Jpeg 2- http://www.hoghoggidyhog.com/stoner.jpg
Jpeg-4http://www.freezedried.co.uk/fd38f-girls-slide-5.html

Friday, May 19, 2006

Birthdays, lingerie and traumatized clowns

Today is induced labour day; today just might be my birthday. I think this could be my 6th birthday. See, I grew up in a religion (Cult!) which felt that celebrating birthdays was bad. The reasons included vanity and how Harod the king didn’t know what day Jesus was born. It seemed to make sense when I was six. So no 18th, or 21st or 25th birthday for me because, being born wasn’t something we were suppose to be happy about (that should tell you a lot about religion)

Now that I have freed myself from cultsville, I only have the sucky birthdays left (unless you know some 22 years olds going, “Gee, I can’t wait for my 35th & 40th birthday”). I want the birthday where I ride a pony, am traumatized by a clown, eat all the icing and then throw up; Or the one where I get tipsy and "accidentally" kiss the girl I have been obsessing over during all of high school; I want the birthday where, finally legal to drink, I go to every nightclub getting totally drunk and leave my Daddy to sit up till 3 a.m. with a fevered imagination. Or even the “How did I end up in the Sea World dolphin tank?” birthday, that would be great. How old am I? I am turning 27 – say it, believe it, be it! You’ll have to cut me open and count the rings to prove otherwise.

How do I celebrate my birthday? Usually I have a plan which involves me accepting my age by running off into the mountains, living as a wild woman, and seen occasionally pressed up against people’s windows. I want to be the mythic figure parents warn their children about appearing if they don’t eat all their green beans.

Linda has other plans. She is taking me lingerie shopping. Woo hoo! I think this might involve us and a lot of giggling inside the change room. Then she is taking me to a restaurant/club named Syn which has pictures of naked women on the walls and drinks with very rude names. After that it’s a surprise. Maybe she’ll run away to the mountains with me, clothing optional? Or traumatize a clown? I’d like that.

Jpeg 1 - http://www.clublez.com/movies/lesbian_movie_scenes/o/oc_the_the_snoc/
Jpeg 2 - http://www.lookstudios.ca/images/b_glamour_2.jpg

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Family bonding: cliff jumping optional

Last Sunday we took a family trip to the Sooke potholes. It took many hours; I asked if we were there yet, I also asked for alcohol. I prefer to drink to be social; as small amounts of alcohol tend to make me less like me, which, when locked for hours in a van with me, everyone appreciates. Moderate amounts of alcohol makes me aroused and wanting to get naked. So there is a fine line there.

This was an early morning Mother’s Day hike, so by some rule of etiquette, no drinking. Fine. I also kept telling everyone I saw dead people. Apparently they did too.

I don’t know what the Sooke potholes are exactly except there are trees, a couple cliffs, a big river and four parking lots. There used to be an unfinished resort at the top of the cliff, which had millions of dollars of cut giant beam timber walls, stairs and flooring but no roof. The conservation society took over the property a couple years ago, removed the timber, fenced up the rest and then put in 4 parking lots so we could see something that wasn’t there anymore. Here is a picture of me walking down to the river bank. Notice how other people are staying hundreds of feet away from me; this includes the person taking the picture.

There is a trail on the rocky boulders above the river. “I see dead people.” I told Linda.

“No.” She said, “I’m pretty sure they are just sunbathing.”

“Loot?” I started to move toward the dead people and all their shiny property.

“Why don’t we try another path?” She suggested steering me away from the bodies.

My father was path-finding, which kept him far ahead of us. This is his habit, making sure he is too far away to hear us shouting to stop. He found us a shortcut. Only it ended in a field of the pollen heavy Scottish Broom. My mother is very allergic to Scottish Broom. She might have said something sarcastic if her lungs hadn’t swollen up. After that, my father was demoted to assistant path-finder.

Once we got to the top of the cliff there were two signs. The first sign expressly forbid the consumption of alcohol with stiff penalties. The other sign suggested that people not jump off the cliff (which varied from 60-120 feet high). It gave sensible reasons, on the assumption that the people who want to jump off cliffs were doing so rationally. “It’s nice of them to show the underwater hazards,” my mother said. I wasn’t sure the picture was exactly to scale. We all stared at the sign. It was almost a bonding moment.

On the way back we stopped for sub sandwiches. Mine gave me food poisoning for the next 12 hours. Praying over the toilet reminded me of all the times I was sick growing up. I got sick a lot. I think it was a break for my parents as I stopped asking questions, trying to see the face of God, or starting detective agencies. They didn’t have Prozac or Ritalin back then. My poor parents. Happy Mothers Day.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Sex in Government offices & horny teenagers

The homophobia workshop went well. But, as those who came said, it’s too bad the people who really could have used it didn’t come. But like racism, the people who are racist either don’t think they are, or aren’t going to come to a workshop on ending racism. Some of the better moments included when I was talking how with some people everyone just “knows” they are gay, like my female friend, whose partner even says she’s got a big D on her forehead. Half the audience laughed right away, and when a woman asked with a puzzled face, “Is her name Darlene?” they laughed harder (someone whispered to her: “Dyke” – ahhh!). Later I’m saying, “I’m not supposed to talk about this because C. told me that....there’s no sex in government offices.” Everyone cracked up and one of the gay guys shouted, “She’s new, she hasn’t found it yet!”

Keeping with the diversity theme, here are some different online comics you might want to give a try. Shonen-Ai Kudasai, is a comic about two gay guys written and drawn by two lesbians. It has some good moments, but tends a little toward the cute and loving side (only with me is that a complaint instead of a compliment). A comic which has me hooked from strip one is Upheaval. It’s about an older brother moving back to his hometown to find out that not only is his sister a lesbian, but, you know how his girlfriend Rachel, dumped him a couple years ago for "someone else"... Oh yeah. I can’t wait to see where these tangled webs go.

One of the popular and mature themed comics is Chugworth Academy, with bisexual women, some gay guys and a bunch of straight (and horny) teenagers, including my alter-ego, the slightly goth, wannabe rebel, Chloe. I’d like to say I’ve never had an experience like the strip Piercings, but I’d be lying. Chugworth Academy's brutally honest, yet funny portrayal of “first time” heterosexual sex is something I would put above my desk if I was a school guidance counselor (That should tell you something about not hiring me as a guidance counselor).

Got to go. The library has just emailed me to say that season 2 of the L-word is ready for picking up. I’m not sure why I am getting it as the only two people I can stand are the straight woman and Shane, the “butch” one. As for the irritating bisexual/lesbian writer woman; I keep trying to kill her by voodoo doll. But as my goth heroine Germaine points out, that’s a lot harder than it looks. After watching season two, I may be redoubling my efforts (Linda would tell me....Beth, it's fiction, she's not real; but we all know that's not true, if she wasn't real, she wouldn't be talking to me through the screen).

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Homophobia Day, Heterosexism and Pirates

Tomorrow, May 17th is the fourth annual National Day against Homophobia in Canada and due to a blog I wrote, I will be giving a lunchtime seminar to the Vancouver Island Tax Services Offices on Heterosexism in the Workplace. If you don’t know about Heterosexism, then I recommend visiting The Heterosexism Enquirer for some interacting quizzes as well as answers to the six most commonly asked questions about LGBT people (including the classic: How do lesbians have sex? My answer: Slowly!)

If you don’t think ending homophobia is about you, then I recommend you check out the Ten Ways that Homophobia Affects Straight People (such as: Homophobia makes it hard for straight people and LGBTQ people to be friends). Heads up for those who say, “I have gay friends,” because if you don’t know their relationship anniversary, the name of their pets or whether their extended family accepts them, then you don’t know some of the things that are most important to your “gay friends.” I admit it's sometimes hard for me to have straight friends; their silence when I talk about the things which interest or excite me tells me they aren’t comfortable. I want to be friends with people I can express what I am passionate about.

On that note, thanks to a recommendation from Kathy, Assistant Amorer to the US Fencing Team, click here to join me in playing the flash game Sea Pirates (you can play it while the boss isn’t looking). Kathy recommends not shooting at whales or towns. I recommend actually reading the instructions as so far I have successfully crashed my ship into the rocks about 10 times. Apparently while I may have natural skills at pillaging and wearing an eye-patch, my navigation still needs work. If you find a way to get little lesbian pirates to show up on the screen, you're my hero.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Naked Lesbian Epee & Sabre Fencers? Yes!

I always try to appreciate the simple pleasures in life, like the pale skinned girl with long red hair who jogged past me today, twice. Thanks to Kathz from Quaker Fencer I found part of my fencing education that had been missing: watching lesbian sabre fencers fight naked.

The Swiss HIV awareness campaign, reported in the BBC, uses naked female fencers and nude male hockey players to get across the message: no action without protection. This epee poster is going on my wall, and probably on a T-shirt to wear at the next fencing competition. If you go to the Swiss site, you can send posters of lesbian or gay naked athletes as an e-card to whoever you want. If only I had know about that before Mother's Day!

The site also offers a look at the Swiss TV spot, or you can download it here. After seeing the sparks flying between these lesbian sabre fencers set to stirring music, my naked fencing home movies seem sadly redundant.

For those interested in lesbian pirates, or fans of Boobs Ahoy, I recommend taking a trip to Switzerland; they seem to up to some very interesting training over there.

Epee, groin attacks of love & fencing Death

If this week’s epee has a life lesson it is: keep going. Monday’s fencing was singular in its forgetfulness. I just kept working on the same three things I have been working on for the last two weeks: lunging to the forearm, lunging to the body and engaging the blade. The reason I always work on footwork is because I am slow. S...L...O...W. I am the bionic woman. Remember on the TV show where they slow down her movements because of her super speed; that me but without the super speed part. This is why I lunge to the forearm, on the premise that if I lunge at the farthest point from the body, I might have a chance to escape when it goes wrong.

Friday I arrived to see that Tornado had returned. He had notched it back a bit so that he was a force 4 instead of a force 6 attack. That didn’t stop him from hitting my leg so hard that he not only raised a welt but his epee tip ripped open the double thick cloth. There was a new male fencer whose style was so eccentric I call him Snap. Snap fenced like a foilest, waiting until the other person attacked to deflect or engage the blade and then striking out in the longest lunge I have ever seen, finishing by launching himself horizontally from the extended position. William and I were disturbed and whispered encouragement to our blades as there was a fair chance they would be snapped like bamboo tonight. The match between Snap and Tornado was pretty interesting as Tornado’s weaving bladework meant that finding and engaging it was beyond Snap. Snap, after retreating, folded himself up, going to his knees and eventually into a fetal position. Any qualms I might have had about hitting someone curled up in a ball weren’t shared by Tornado – pow!

After a few rounds like that William and I decided that we should “go get a drink of water,” which meant sitting on the bench and talking for 10 minutes. During this time, Glen, one of teens, joined us and the conversation drifted to my love life. Glen wanted to know if I was married to the 6’7” Steve who fences epee or just going out with him. Seems all those stabbing blows to the groin are signs of a love in some people’s head (won’t be asking about your parent’s relationship, thanks). Guess my wearing the “Butch” T-shirt last week was too subtle.

By the time we returned Brian and Amanda had arrived and both Tornado and Spark decided to fence foil. There followed the best hour of fencing I’ve had in a while. Oh yeah, I beat Brian. And he wasn’t fresh from the hospital. I did it with engaging the blade, lunges to the arm and the body. Ha ha! Yes, the practice actually worked. The next bout with Brian after I took the first two points he changed from “the world’s laziest fencer” to an aggressive and attacking fencer. I lost, but I made him change his game.

I have put in the practice, the lunge training, the endurance training, the point training, the mental analysis. Sometimes, when fencing someone good, like William, I experience what I call, “uplift.” Somewhere, between the points, the strain on the body falls away, and I don’t have to think about footwork, or arm position, or keeping distance as my body adjusts by itself. I read his body, ready for attacks, but not worried, watching. On his arm I see an opening, and I feel my tip yearning to be there. Time starts to slow as the world and my body falls silent, leaving only the opening and the blade. I feel my body moving, lunging, but all I can see is the point where my tip will hit, closer and closer. And just before the tip hits, with my whole being focused, time almost stops. Of course, if my tip slides off and I am dumped back in real time, cursing to myself and with a microsecond to decide whether to leap back or try again, it isn’t so pleasant.

This is part of why I fence, and why I push myself to get better. The closer I can get myself to perfection and the closer I can push my opponent there, the more chance of uplift. The more uplift, the more I call to my real opponent, Fencer X. Ever since I started fencing, I always searched for personal perfection, waiting for a fencer who would be inhumanly good. That is the fencer I want to face. Winning against other fencers isn’t an end in itself, but it does tell me that I am improving. And while winning the provincials or the nationals would be nice, that’s not why I fence. It wouldn’t be enough.

Recently, I have come to know the name of Fencer X: Death. So yes, I train to fence Death. But only my Death, not Death incarnate (I’m not that greedy). I don’t want to win, I want to FIGHT. I know it is impossible to win. But then, I guess it is the impossible that attracts me. If Joseph in the Bible got to wrestle with an angel, then why can’t I fence with Death; it is certainly more interesting than a chess game. I worry that I’ll never get a chance to go out fighting. Linda thinks I’m already fighting, and that I have been for quite a while.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Pick-up lines & the girl that got away

Number of pick-up lines since moving to Canada in Feb: Males: 39 Females: 2 (Finally I got a cute girl giving me a line today, woo hoo!).

I have noticed over the last week or two that the more ill or traumatized I am, the more attractive I become to guys. Case in point: last week I had a horrid morning which I spent crying. When I finally leave the house to go to the library, three different guys flirt with me in the four blocks to the library including one who walks beside me introducing himself. Puffy eyes must be really sexy in this part of the world.

Last ferry ride, I was so sesick I had to stare straight ahead and pray for a bucket. Immediately a guy comes over telling me “he’s seen me before but this time he decided he was going to talk to me.” So he “chats” for 90 minutes, including standing up in front of me so we can have “eye contact.” By the time I get home he’s already emailed me.

Then there was a couple days ago, I go to the fencing club with cramps so bad I’m forcing myself to stand straight. Immediately a guy says, “Looking lovely, Beautiful.” Later I tell Linda, and she says, “Maybe it wasn’t flirting, maybe he is just one of those people who calls everyone Beautiful.” Really? Then why did he next offer to show me the tattoo above his buttocks? Linda admits he probably doesn’t show that to everyone. Flirting!

Linda thinks that I get a “vulnerable” look that brings out something in guys. I think it more likely that when I am down or ill I lose my maniacal eye gleam which indicates an ever-present capacity for violence; I look docile. Act now buddy, because that’s not lasting long.

Today I’m walking to the post office with this cute blonde 20’s female walking her fluffy little white dog in front of me. She glances back, sees me and then does a prolonged lingering double take. She stops and as I approach she leans toward me. “I’m sorry,” she says, “I thought you were the girl from America’s Next Top Model, that’s why I did the double take.” Later I realize that I will never get a better opening line in this life. NEVER! Do I say, “Yes, I’m heading to a photo shoot, do you want to come?” or “I get that all the time. You want to go get a coffee?” No. No, I say, “Uh...Sorry, I don’t have a TV.” She laughs nervously, I laugh nervously and we part, leaving me to kick myself for the next two hours.

I spend, what, weeks complaining that I can’t get any girls who want to pick me up; suddenly it’s spotlight time with the cute and perky girl in with the blond ponytail asking me if I’m THAT model and...I clutch. It’s okay, I tell myself. Linda would have ripped off my lips if they touched another girl. And besides, femmes with fluffy, white dogs are high maintenance. I’m lucky things didn’t progress. If I keep telling myself that, one day I’ll believe it.

Jpeg 2- http://www.pantsnetwork.com/news/shakiraalbum_shak4.jpg

Thursday, May 11, 2006

More lesbian pirates, my head & a quiz

While I vowed never to do tagged stuff, because this is my first tagging EVER and because Mario tagged me, I will do it. Before that however, I want to reward Mario with a link to yet more representations of lesbian pirates, brought to us by Capt’n Dyke, Pirate Queen.

I am the offspring of generations of debauchery and acts of depravity on one side of the family, and hapless eccentricity on the other.
I want the power to start fires with my mind, is that so much to ask? You can trust me with it; honest!
I wish I had bought my first vibrator a lot earlier in life. My first stun gun too.
I hate the Secret Order of the Kukaro who have put the curse of a thousand urinary tract infections on me for watching their secret rituals. I also really hate ants, they have no ears and never stop coming; creepy.
I fear the world ending while I am asleep; I’ve already missed one apocalypse, I don’t want to miss this one.
I hear you chewing popcorn 12 rows back in the cinema. News Flash: closing your mouth when you eat is polite even WHEN PEOPLE CAN’T SEE YOU.
I wonder how I can encourage people toward spontaneous combustion – it’s clean, it’s efficient, it’s good for the environment.
I am not the person you want to babysit your children. Last child I babysat I spent 2 hours teaching it to say the CORRECT words: “No, not square, parallelogram, say it after me: “parallelogram””
I dance naked, a lot. Too much. Sometimes after Linda goes to bed. Is this why the guy across the street gives me a thumbs up every time he sees me?
I cry when I can’t get my own way, or just to make someone feel guilty; in the supermarket when someone takes the last jar of extra spicy pickles; whenever approached by police regarding my going 50-60 miles over the speed limit.
I am not easy to miss in a crowd. I’m tall, I’m usually staring at someone trying to make their head explode, or I am drinking and saying inappropriate things. The person punching me on the arm trying to get me to shut up would be Linda.
I make with my hands, pretty much nothing at all, unless scented oil massages count as “making with my hands”.
I write love letters, mostly to dead people.
I confuse left and right, which I usually refer to as “This hand” versus “This hand.” When Linda is giving me directions she says, “Turn right, that’s towards me.”
I need some coffee once or twice a year, just to remember that particular tangy smell it adds to my pee.
I start fires. No, no, no, I mean I support fire prevention measures. Kids, don’t play with matches, find a lighter and hair spray canister instead.
I finish every year with the resolution that I am never to old for making prank phone calls or having sleep-overs.
I try, not because it is possible, but because everyone thinks it is impossible.
I tag Elizabeth, Kathz & Nothing.

And because I vowed never to put up links to online quizzes, I will do that today also (guess I might as well break that vow about never eating a liter of Ben&Jerry’s ice cream in one sitting again too). The quiz is to determine what type of fencing blade best fits your personality. Somehow no matter what I put in, I end up with saber.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Multiplex Life: extra nacho cheese please!

If you ever want to see the underbelly of humanity and decide that working at a WWF wrestling venue isn’t for you, then I recommend employment at your local cinema multiplex. During graduate school, I too worked at a 12 screen multiplex (But in the UK, where we serve alcohol in the cinema!). On the positive side, since I worked up to 14 hours a shift, I almost never saw the sun, finishing work after 3 a.m., waiting out the midnight showings and then hunting down and clearing out the drunks and couples having sex. On the negative side, I got to see, hear and touch humans all night long, including cleaning up enough garbage in one shift to make me swear off nacho cheese for life.

Because of my “distinctive” personality, I was the person to make announcements in sold out and special screenings. First, because I could actually get people to move over in a sold-out screen and second because I got people genuinely excited about the film; or wanting to kill me. My favorite was Harry Potter openings, as I would stand in front of 1200 kids and parents and tell them, “I can’t wait for this film! Finally Malfoy is the hero. Down with Harry Potter! Come on, everyone, chant with me: Slytherin! Slytherin! Slytherin!” You just haven’t lived until you have hundreds of children booing at you and screaming out “Gryffindor!” Or having a serious six year old girl tell you that “Harry Potter is going to get you.”

The opening of Star Wars was pretty wild, but also where I met my all time favorite costumed fan. He wasn’t dressed as Luke, or Vader, or Leia (thank goodness). You remember in Star Wars: New Hope, where the rebels are making an attack on the Death Star and one pudgy guy with mustache just keeps saying “Stay on target, stay on target!” until he gets blown out of the sky? Yup, this fan paid hundreds of dollars in specialist costuming to look just like Jek Porkins, a.k.a. Red Six. You gotta love a guy who chooses a bit player for a hero. He saw the film four times the first day.

Try the online comic Multiplex if you want a taste-test of cinema life and career options. Though it cannot capture the stunned speechless nature of daily work there: like when management asked us to clean out a stopped toilet…with our hands, or when parents asked for refunds for Disney’s Atlantis because “they didn’t know it was a foreign film” leaving us to explain that a) there are only 2 minutes of subtitles at the beginning where the Atlantians are speaking and b) there is no language Atlantian, it’s fiction...please enjoy the show. Or when a customer refuses the assigned seat because of the skin colour of the person next to them, or when you have to call security for a guy caught masturbating during the Harry Potter film, or when a film runs BACKWARDS for 20 minutes and not one of the 300 people watching come out to us to say anything (“We’d heard it was kinda arty” they explain afterward). Ahhh, the good old multiplex days.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Loving your black pit of darkness, UK style

The trick to loving your inner black pit of darkness is to feed it regularly and avoid showing it to friends and relations. I also personally recommend you avoid displaying it as part of a flirting technique.

Ultraviolet, the TV series (do not confuse with the laughable recent movie of the same name), combines the best of gritty British crime drama with malevolent vampires. In this future/now series of 6 hour-long episodes, the V word is never used. Our police hero gets recruited into a special government branch, which follows the crimes of the shadow collective, whose motives stem from their obsession with the human capacity for self destruction, from blood diseases to biological warfare. The vampires try to plead that they are just a persecuted minority seeking peace, but that rings hollow, particularly in the episode where boys in a private school start coming down with symptoms but with no evidence of bites. The investigation leads the team to a controlled experiment of spreading the cotangent using pedophiles, but there’s worse. This series is presented in the understated British style where the horror builds layer upon layer until you are rooting for what may be the best option: the hero putting his gun to his head.

Another UK series that will strip your emotions raw is Touching Evil from the writer of Cracker, Paul Abbott. From What Price a Child, where foster parents and baby smugglers join forces to create trained children which are auctioned off to rich pedophiles, to a killer who drugs victims so that they are aware and conscious before setting them on fire, this series, starring the martyr driven Creegan of the Organized and Serial Crime Unit, doesn’t pull it’s punches. If you don’t have nightmares after these, then you weren’t watching close enough.

Of course, when returning these to your local DVD rental store, you should avoid trying to impress the good looking butch woman at the counter by letting your enthusiasm for the series make you bubble on about the torture and pedophile elements for five straight minutes using words like, “fantastic” and “like nothing you can find in North America.” Reflecting afterward whether I was now part of a community watch list, Linda asked, “Well, you did tell her that it was because the topic never gets realistic portrayal and proper attention in US shows, right?” Uh...no. That was the little difference between what I assume people already know and the later realization that they might not.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Epee, Thong Day & Testosterone Boys

I am bored. Bored, bored, bored. I am the teenage girl in the back of the car who you decided to take with you to Lumber World. I now fence epee with 12 guys. There are two new guys; one has parries so forceful and extreme that the judge has to wear a mask; the other, an 18 year old male (nickname: Tornado) who is so aggressive he starts attacking before the bout starts. Gee, more wild, super-aggressive, never-back up males. Boring.

A bored Elizabeth is a dangerous thing. When my mind is not engaged in fencing, it races up walls like a chipmunk in a cage. It makes me say naughty things, just because. If my mind is distracted, I'll try and make yours distracted too.

In a bout, during the pause between points I use my non-sword hand to rub my hip. “Hmmm” I say, “I can’t remember if it’s thong day today.”

“What?” Steve cries, “You can’t tell?” I lunge, point.

“Oh wait.” I tell him a minute later, “That’s right, today, I’m going commando.”

“What? No!” I lunge, point. “Stop telling me these things!” He begs.







(See full comic of PVPonline here)

I’ve been putting in the epee training. I’m working on form, identifying problems, working out on cardio, lunges, point accuracy and speed. The coach for hire is away this week. I asked Mr. Ho for a lesson. Nothing there. As for the bouts themselves, with Gerald gone, William has now become the most stable epeeist. We talked; he doesn’t advance all the time, we keep distance. It’s nice. I feel like a real epeeist when I fence William instead of a girl with a sword, defending her virginity against relentless male assaults. The Tornado was so wild he managed to thrust his blade UNDER my helmet’s neck protector and have it end up touching my chin; steel to skin. That’s a bit closer to mortality than I was looking for.

“I love my blade.” I tell William rubbing my hand up and down the naked steel.

“Stop that!”

“Hmmm,” I look at the blade, “I wonder if I could make it vibrate somehow.”

William moves away, “I don’t want to know, really!”

I move toward him with a wicked grin, and start a buzzing sound, making my epee vibrate with my hand.

The light has gone out of Amanda. Since the provincials, it seems like she’s hardly there. Last night, I went easy on her. I know I’m the person that “always” goes 100%, but she was distant, distracted, too easy to hit. Most nights now she only fences three or four bouts to five points, sometimes she shows up two hours late, sometimes she doesn’t bout at all. This leaves me to fence with Tornado, who not only has a tendency, when toe to toe, to grab your sword arm with his free hand, but during weapon’s check he tries to knock the sword out of your hand by slamming his bell guard into your tip. Ramp down the testosterone, cowboy!

Waiting to fence, I pester everyone about the new Superman Trailer (click here). It rocks! Steve feels that Superman is “too perfect” (insecurity issues Steve?). This starts me on a rant on how much it sucks working in the same office with Lois Lane. Always having to hear Lois natter on about how Superman took her exotic places before saving her life and then fixing car, and rewiring the house. Please, please, please let this be the movie where Lois comes out as a lesbian. “Sorry Superman... uh, before you go, can you introduce me to Supergirl?”

When I am not challenged, I get bored. And besides William, I’m not challenged. I need Gerald and his bag of tricks (still off drinking rum in Cuba), I want a fully fired-up Amanda. It would even be nice if Brian showed up. Till then, I’ll keep training, waiting for the day my Butch Princess strides through the door, epee in hand.

Comic - http://www.pvponline.com/archive.php3?archive=20060504
Jpeg - http://www.patfullerton.com/superman/pix/supergirl/supergirl-batgirl.html

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Equal Humanity for Gays/Lesbians? Part II

Coming to grips with being LGBT against societal, peer and parental pressures is hard. Hope lay in the belief that intolerance was bred from ignorance and once people understood the view and struggles of gay teens, a more accepting society would emerge. Organizations like PFLAG (founded in 1981 to support parents of LGBT children), Gay Straight Alliances in schools and now the 10th year of the Day of Silence which highlights the discrimination and bullying against LGBT students were making a difference. That is, until two years ago, when conservative Christians decided to declare war on gay teens, positioning the school as a battleground.

The sparking point was Gay/Straight Alliances: Particularly when students in some of the most conservative schools, such as Colorado Springs, where Focus on the Family and more than a hundred other Evangelical/Conservative Christian organizations are based, sued and won their right to have an official GSA. Conservatives countered that GSAs promote homosexuality and are the equivalent of a school funded gay recruitment and dating service. Victoria Cobb of Family Foundation: “Taxpayers should not be asked to fund homosexual dating services in our schools," (So, are we canceling the Prom?)

The Christian group PFOX (Parents and Friends of ex-gays) was formed to counter the perceived threat of parental acceptance of LGBT children through PFLAG’s outreach in schools. PFOX is a group which openly offers one solution: no gays. With a close connection to Exodus International, the leader in "converting" gays to straights, conversion therapy is the message they deliver. Using lawsuits, PFOX won a seat on the board of health curriculum in Montgomery County insert Conversion/Reparative Therapy in the school programs.

The new PFOX campaign launched three weeks ago, in conjunction with law group Liberty Council and is called “Change is Possible”. This program is supposed to counteract the “bullying” that straight students are receiving from LGBT students for simply telling them "the truth.” Straight students are encouraged to engage in the “Tolerance Test” which involves putting up “Change is Possible” materials (including an offensive and unreferenced “Health Statistics on Gays” pamplet) and start a Gay to Straight club in the school. If the student is stopped or hindered?: call this number for an instant lawsuit. PFOX also recommends for sympathetic teachers and staff to put up ex-gay posters and distribute material around the school including bringing books on reparative therapy into the library.

The use of straight students/teachers/parents to “confront” gay students with “truth” is the new strategy of conservative Christian groups such as Focus on the Family, Exodus and the Southern Baptist Conference. Their justification is consistent: That God hates homosexuality, that people can choose to not be homosexual through Conversion Therapy and that homosexuality is a social and personal health risk equivalent to drug addiction. The goal is the suppression and elimination of LGBT teens.

Conversion/Reparative Therapy is banned in Britain and condemned by every US professional medical body from the American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association to the American Counseling Association. Dr Ariel Shidlo and Dr. Michael Schroeder did a seven year study of ex-gay's called "Changing Sexual Orientation: a consumer's report" that was published in a peer reviewed journal in 2001. Of the 202 individuals in the study, each had undergone, on average, 118 sessions of counseling with ex-gay ministries over a period longer than two years. The number of the 202 subjects who said they were no longer struggling and had fully transitioned to heterosexuality: 8.

Number of those eight which were currently working as counselors with an ex-gay ministry and where an admission of same sex attraction would likely cost them their job: 7

Number who, on a one year follow up who felt they had "failed": 176

Number who reported that "conversion" had given them long term significant harm: 155

Number who attempted suicide during therapy: 23

Number who attempted it in the 12 months following: 11

Number who reported spiritual harm ranging from leaving Christianity, complete loss of faith, or anger at and inability to trust God and the church: over 100

An in-depth study of 50 Mormons who underwent Conversion Therapy was conducted by Lee Beckstead who found "No substantial or generalized heterosexual arousal was reported, and participants were not able to modify their tendency to be attracted to the same sex." The reason conversion therapy is discouraged is that while you can try and pound a square peg into a round hole, that isn't going to do good things for the peg.

It seems odd that groups so concerned about the spiritual well being of gays would continue despite the fact that gay Christians are over 10 times more likely to receive spiritual harm including leaving Christianity than "convert", and are 3-4 times more likely to try and kill themselves. But then, as the leader of Love In Action, the oldest teen focused reparative therapy group, stated, “I would rather you commit suicide than have you leave Love In Action wanting to return to the gay lifestyle.”

Conservative Christian groups have moved their training focus from gay Christian teens to the straight Christian teens who can take the fight into the school against LGBT classmates. Exodus International, leader of reparative therapy, lunched a new movement October 2005 entitled Groundswell. These conferences (strangely reminding me of Hitler Youth) are directed solely at straight Christian teens, teaching them “practical ways of promoting the traditional (traditional=God hates you) view of homosexuality in schools and reaching out to gay-identified students.” “Gay Identified”? That’s right, because as Joseph Nicolosi, head of the Research arm of Narth, testifies at Groundswell, “there is no such thing as a "gay child" or a "gay teen."”, only teens tempted by homosexual behavior. Exodus also provides free materials entitled “Truth and Tolerance” which give teens the “truth” they need to confront gay peers. For example how one of the “causes” of homosexuality is being called homosexual names like “fag”, while the “solution” is “CHRISTIAN counseling (and for lesbians) connecting to our femininity and our “god-given” gender role with skirts and...a makeover.”

These groups offer no solution to the epidemic bullying and harassment of LGBT youth in schools, which according to a US report released last month, has 76% of LGBT students hearing derogatory remarks and just under 40% being physically harassed. In a Canadian study 46% of the LGBT students have attempted suicide. Conservative Christian organizations instead choose to oppose “sexual orientation” harassment protection, as Focus on the Family representative Marc Fey explains: “We do not support special “safe school” and anti-bullying legislation because of the way it opens the door to advance an aggressive, pro-homosexual agenda in public school classrooms.”

Marc Fey also tells students that the feelings of hatred against gay students is not wrong, only the loss of control when expressing them: “When one student spits on another student because he thinks his schoolmate is gay, tolerance isn't the issue so much as is self-control.”

In 2004, Christian student Chase Harper came to school on the Day of Silence with a shirt telling his gay teen peers to “Be ashamed.” When separated from other students due to the shirt's message, the American Defense Fund and Conservative Christians used this event and the following lawsuit to launch an annual “Day of Truth” following the “Day of Silence.” And while the Day of Silence” was to promote ending harassment and condemnation of others, the “Day of Truth’s” purpose seems to be to tell everyone that gays are bad, as the ADF leader states: "What homosexual advocates are saying is that homosexual behavior is not sin...it is sin, and the behavior carries dangerous and destructive consequences to both the individual and society."

Last week’s Day of Silence was an empowering experience for many, but for many others the day was one of name calling, harassment, having to leave school due to harassment, 200 students skipping school in protest to a “Day of Silence”, no one keeping it out of fear of classmates and other negative experiences. One school was so toxic that I could only think, “I’m glad I don’t live there.” Turned out, the school is less than 50 miles away from me.

Linda Harvey of Mission America states without irony: "While no one doubts that some bullying of students who believe they are homosexual does occur, these are sad, yet isolated incidents with no uniform characteristics. They are not the fault of Christian values."

The same Linda Harvey of Mission America last month released the “Risk Audit” for schools, a program approved by the 2005 Southern Baptist Conference. This is the view that “School are failing “do no harm” by allowing homosexuality to be seen as acceptable.” The Risk Audit calls for Christians to go into the school and rate the school according to its homosexual risk. High Risk schools include: Those with anti-bullying or harassment policies on “sexual orientation”, Requirements for teacher/staff training on “diversity,” “tolerance,” “sensitivity”, lessons on “Tolerance,” “Diversity,” Anti-Bias, Anti-Bullying or “Multi-Culturalism.” Or those with HIV/AIDS and “safe sex” education programs as “these lessons assume all students are at risk of AIDS; that all students need to be taught about use of condoms for “safe sex.””

The risk assessment states: Any district with a homosexual club, any program or curriculum that would tend to influence children to regard homosexual behavior as in any sense normal or acceptable, should be identified as a clear and present danger to children and society and should receive a failing grade. And as Focus on the Family enjoins: “if the school is cooperating with homosexual groups, take your kids out.” And of course, call the Christian legal group, American Defense Fund. What you can’t bully, sue. Already, in Lexington, two parents have filed a lawsuit over a gay-friendly book being used in class.

These Conservative tactics are based on bullying, threats and fear. Why people loving someone of the same sex creates such hatred is a mystery. Though, to attack vulnerable teens through their teachers, peers and parents is despicable in every respect. As the “Day of Truth” site assures: “All Day of Truth resources are designed to fall within constitutional limits.” This underwhelming statement points to their desire to serve their own pleasures at the expense of others. Appropriate, as the last time I saw a line like that, it was advertising child pornography.

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Soviet Top Anthems & Communist Vampires

Nothing like spending May Day or at least the day after May Day getting sentimental about labor movements, revolts and the upraised fist of the worker. I heartily recommend setting the mood with Paul Robeson’s English version of the Anthem of the USSR, available here in a “Top Twenty” selection of early and inspiring Soviet revolutionary and WWII anthems (plus likely adding yourself to an FBI, CIA & Homeland Security database of likely subversives at no extra cost). Nothing better for those people working at the Department of Defense or driving around Texas in your pickup than to have the heroic songs of "The Saint War" or “White Army, Black Baron” ("From wild forest to the British seas - Red Army is the best!") blasting from your speakers. Just listening to them makes me want to pick up a flamethrower for the motherland.

You may also want to read up on the threat of Communist Vampires, or you may not. The author is surprisingly humorless about the delightful concept of communist vampires by making all sort of painful and direct comparisons about the evils of communism (Sorry, “Communist Vampires” tee hee!). Meanwhile Hollywood Investigator gives "proof" that Communist Dictator Nicolea Ceausescu was a vampire and has turned Jacko into a communist vampire slave( “These facts cannot be denied!”)! But after all, Brian Lumley carved a writing career out of Nazi Vampires & Werewolfs, so who am I to point fingers.

After taking out your Diggers membership as an agrarian communist (so you didn't join up 350 odd years ago at the start, better late than never) you can finish up with Leon Rosselson’s “Song of the Old Communist” which has the same sort of theme of many 50’s anarchists: You’ve never seen what I’ve seen and stop having SO MUCH FUN! One of my favorite anecdotes of Anarchist George Woodcock is when, after weeks of standing in the rain handing out smudging pamphlets, another anarchist group stole his group’s hand press. But, as anarchists, they were honor bound not to go to the police, so they simply watched the competing group take their space handing out pamphlets. Ah the good old days.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Equal Humanity for Gays/Lesbians? Part I

There is a movement or backlash in America to revoke the established protections regarding discrimination based on sexual orientation. This seems to have started in 2003 with both Virginia Tech’s repeal (and later reinstatement) of Sexual Orientation protection and the state of Minnesota with House Bill File 341. This bill, inspired by Conservative Christian group Minnesota Family Council, requires that the term “Sexual Orientation” be taken out of the protections defined in the Minnesota Human Rights Act.

As you ponder how exactly people can decide how a “right” can be repealed, in 2004 the White House Office of Special Council, Scott Bloch, altered the web information and appeal form content on discrimination and harassment to eliminate “sexual orientation.” The Office of Special Council is the place where federal employees complain regarding harassment, which, for LGBT harassment, was now physically impossible. Scott Bloch was promoted to this position from the White House’s Office of Faith-Based Programs. Scott explained that “the statutes protecting people from racial and gender discrimination do not apply to sexual orientation” but that he would protect people from discrimination from perceived conduct or orientation. So, if you are straight and people harass you because you were at a pride parade, you will be defended, if you are actually gay, you won’t. This was immediately followed by the Social Security Agency trying to remove “Sexual orientation” from it’s discrimination clause in contract renegotiations. In 2005, due to frustration regarding continued refusal to protect gay and lesbian employees a US Congress Bill called “Clarification of Federal Employment Protection Act” was created to try and force the Office of Special Council to protect sexual orientation. It remains awaiting vote.

The Office of the Special Council is not the only federal agency which takes cues from conservative Christianity regarding LGBT issues. The IRS, who previously announced that in upholding the DOMA ruling, they would not accept joint tax returns of legally married US gay couples, this year overturned an earlier ruling that no medical expenses regarding treatment for transsexuals, including surgery would be allowed. In citing the evidence to make their decision, they used, instead of any medical or legal journals, an article from the Conservative Christian magazine, First Things, written by the man who convinced the Vatican that transsexualism doesn’t exist. First Things also has an article entitled “Homosexuality and the Truth” by Elizabeth Moberly, you may remember her from last weeks blog about her belief that lesbians could be “cured” with a makeover.

I recommend a few stiff drinks to try and comprehend why the IRS is making policy decisions from Conservative Christian magazines, meanwhile you might enjoy the Alice in Wonderland perversity of the Governor of Kentucky, who announced April 11, 2006 as “Diversity Day” and then used that day to eliminate protection for state workers regarding either “sexual orientation” or “Gender Identity.”

While the government “for the people” (was that all the people, or just straight people?) is deciding which type of diversity is worth protecting, conservative Christians are continuing to target and bully large corporations. The American Family Association (AFA) is the epicenter of all Christian boycotts, going after everyone from Disneyland (for having a “gay day”) to Johnson and Johnson (for advertising on Ellen). Frustrated at their late start and total failure with closing down “Desperate Housewives”, the AFA has moved to banning shows before they even air, targetting NBC’s Book of Daniel, a TV show about a minister with a gay son, by getting in 500,000 complaint emails before airing and threatening all potential advertisers with boycott. The show was cancelled after three episodes.

General Meetings appear to be a new battleground with Bank of America facing a stockholder resolution to remove “Sexual Orientation” from employee discrimination. American Express defeated an identical resolution on April 24th 2006 and now there is a similar proxy vote at Ford’s General Meeting on May 11th. Ford went unsuccessfully to the SEC to try and remove the proxy as it will threaten not only their image with gay rights groups (who know that Ford is under an AFA boycott due to pulling and then reinstating gay-friendly ads), but also may exclude them from recruiting workers from universities with non-discrimination policies. For businesses, gay rights or lack thereof means money, and companies tend to jump to the side they think will do them the most financial good.

As a person whose current apartment manager didn’t want to rent to a lesbian couple (eventually informing us that the building owner would be told we were "sisters") and having lost a job due to orientation harassment, these are not abstract issues. Anytime a government agency or representative starts dictating who has rights and who doesn’t based on the most extreme views of Christianity, I worry. Anytime someone celebrates “diversity” by giving in to those who want to eliminate it, I worry. I should hope that religious groups deciding what you should be allowed to watch, to buy or who to hire based on whether I or people like me are given equal rights would cause, if not anger, at least irritation. I worry for the new targets (or “third wave”) for Conservative gay-hating groups, those who don’t have as many options: Teens & Gay Christians (covered in Part II)

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