Rocky Road

StartGloria and I took full advantage of yesterday’s 70° temperature with a trek around Lone Mountain. The hike is rocky and rough, yet at only 2.5 miles from start to finish, this trail gives the illusion of being a rural adventure without the worry of carrying a lot of gear.

hillDon’t be fooled by these dirt roads because they’re much steeper than they seem in the photograph. Or so the story goes from the perspective of two people who haven’t been hiking in months!

curveOf course with a neighborhood and a freeway only minutes away from the trail we never really got the sense of being alone with nature, but the purpose of our walk wasn’t about solitude and nature as much as it was about exercise and friendship.

freewayLas Vegas looms in the distance as we circled the mountain on our final decent back into the city. We spent about an hour and half on this adventure, just enough time to feel invigorated instead of exhausted.

boulderThree minute video adventure!(If this video stops and starts, click off the HD feature on the play ↑ bar.)

Dirty ShoesDusty shoes as a reminder that we accomplished what we set out to do. Sometimes life is best served with a fresh dose of friendship and an adventure. Happy trails everybody!

Season of Joy

snowmanDecember is stressful for me. It’s not because something negative is happening in my domestic nest, it’s because I feel bombarded by the overall busyness of society during this time of year.

People are scattered everywhere buying things they normally would not buy because of an obligation they call the Holiday Season. Crowds and lines of people appear in places that are usually quiet and manageable. City streets overflow with aggressive traffic. Parking lots become mechanical oceans and humans transform into hungry sharks devouring their retail prey. Instinctively, mindlessly, society recreates this month after month, year after year, decade after decade.

This is not the season of joy, it’s the season of money.

Go-get-her

My new life as a married go-get-her. I’ve stayed busy since my 85yr old mother retired and moved to our neighborhood. My once slow-paced daily routine with my new husband, Wylde, has been replaced by regular trips to the doctor, casinos, shopping centers, restaurants, parks, and beauty salons.

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Drenched

Monsoon season in Las Vegas, Nevada can bring about crazy weather. This mighty little rainstorm crashed into our neighborhood yesterday and left behind a river of muddy water running down the street.

DSC_0008The backyard garden didn’t fare out much better as the rain filled in the pathways and created a collection of islands and lagoons. Of course, the mesquite tree in the island must have felt as if it won a liquid lottery!

DSC_0014DSC_0016DSC_0017DSC_0018The storm only lasted about fifteen minutes, so I had enough time to grab my GoPro and film some of mother nature’s temper tantrum. Watch this video closely and notice two neighbor boys running wildly through the downpour. I might have done the same thing if I wasn’t afraid of being struck by lightning!

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Drama Queens

Gay DramaAt the turn of the millennium my mother experienced the unfortunate joy of living next door to a pair of middle-aged gay drama queens. In the beginning of their friendship everything went well as the older pot-bellied queen (Steve) enjoyed being a stay-at-home drunk who greeted my mother daily with polite waves and smiles as she arrived home from work each afternoon. The younger one (Darrell) was a hard-working man who spent most of his time earning a living to support the drinking habits of his lazy boyfriend and to buy supplies for their home renovation.

The friendship between my mother and Steve grew as he slowly seeped into her daily life with more frequent carport conversations and random unannounced visits. Their unusual relationship remained consistent for about a year or two and Steve took on the role of the “fix-it” guy next door. Eventually the neighborly friendship between the trio came to an abrupt end because Steve overstepped the boundaries of trust and was caught spreading lies and gossip throughout the neighborhood. But this story isn’t really about gay drama, it’s about the unprofessional reaction of the mobile home park’s manager as she responded to a false complaint of homophobia filed by Steve in retaliation to my mother ending their friendship.

(Words highlighted in yellow are offensive to the LGBT community.)Original letter blog-BLURRED

As if the letter was not offensive enough, the words tolerance, lifestyle, and chosen, all have negative undertones that reflect the ignorance of society in understanding homosexuality. It’s not tolerance the gay community wants, it’s acceptance.

TOLERANCE: acceptance of different views: the acceptance of the differing views of other people, e.g. in religious or political matters, and fairness toward the people who hold these different views.

To say one is tolerant of gays is to say one does not agree with homosexuality. Being gay is NOT an opinion, it is a fact.

The word lifestyle isn’t unique to gay people as we live our lives just the same as anyone else. We work, shop, eat, sleep, raise families, visit friends, etc.. The correct usage would be “human lifestyle” because sexuality does not have anything to do with the way a person lives.

Lastly, homosexuality is not a choice. We are born this way.

Needless to say, my mother who fiercely defends the LGBT community, marched herself down to the community office and raised a bit of Sagittarian hell with the manager over her accusation of homophobia. By the time she was finished, the manager’s tail was neatly tucked between her legs and an apology letter was promptly sent.

letter-BLURRED

After the apology letter, everything worked out between my mother and the manager of the park and they formed a respectful friendship. Unfortunately, the political incorrectness of the manager’s word choice about homosexuality was never discussed. Jeanne was not necessarily anti-gay. She was most likely uniformed and socially preconditioned to view the LGBT community through the eyes of society’s discriminatory past.

As for Steve and Darrell…well….what can be said about a pair of washed-up old gay drama queens? For a year or two they continued to disrupt the lives of other residents and eventually were forced to moved out-of-state, friendless and despised.

Painful Conclusion

Under the bus-607I have come to this conclusion; no matter how convincing some of my conservative friends and family members are about supporting marriage-equality, they will never fully take a serious stance against their political party’s discriminatory views toward the LGBT community because gay-equality (my equality) does not directly affect them.

I have a niece who votes Republican. She claims to be pro-gay, yet her support for equality stops short of actually making a difference because of her staunch GOP affiliation. An example was during the Obama/Romney presidential election. Republican nominee Mitt Romney was adamantly opposed to same-sex marriage and spoke frequently about it during his campaign. He also was opposed to gays serving openly in the military and threatened to reverse President Obama’s repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. The Republican party has a long history of discrimination against gays, which includes most recently, the prevention of The Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) from becoming law. My niece voted for Mitt Romney anyway.

I have many lifelong “straight” friends, all of whom claim to fully support LGBT equality, but only a few have actively and vocally campaigned to end discrimination against the gay community through their political votes and/or activism. The others support equality, but not at the expense of voting outside of their politically conservative comfort zones. In other words, the below list of rights denied to gay couples is less significant to them.

(Credit for list goes to About.com)
  • Protection from Discrimination: In many states, you do not have the right to protection from harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation.
  • Joint Taxes: GLBT couples cannot file taxes jointly; as a result, taxes for a GLBT couple can be significantly higher.
  • Hospital Visitation: GLBT couples have no legal right to visit a spouse in the hospital and can be barred from entering the room by medical personnel.
  • Estate Taxes: GLBT couples cannot pass their estate to a spouse tax-free, which creates a huge tax burden that can result in the loss of a spouse’s home or business.
  • Job Security: In a majority of states, employees can be fired just for being gay.
  • Immigration: GLBT partners are denied special consideration for the immigration of a spouse, often resulting in a painful separation when a loved one is from a foreign country.
  • Property Taxes: GLBT partners must pay property tax when transferring property between spouses.
  • Social Security: GLBT partners are not eligible to receive a spouse’s Social Security pension or many other government benefits.
  • Medical Decisions: During a medical crisis, GLBT couples cannot legally make treatment decisions for their partners.
  • Domestic Violence: GLBT people cannot get domestic violence protection orders against a partner or former partner.

The scope of LGBT discrimination goes far beyond a list of legalities and rights. Social discrimination leads to bullying, violence, and even death. Suicide, depression, substance abuse, and poverty are common side-affects of LGBT discrimination.

What hurts the most deeply is my conservative family members’ and friends’ unwillingness to fully understand (or care) how their Republican vote continues to oppress and harm the quality of my life and the lives of several million other gay people across the country. Perhaps, one day, the Republican platform will change and accept full LGBT equality, but today isn’t that day.

Not surprising are the excuses given to me by the conservatives for their votes, as they tend to justify their choice by insisting “Republican policy” will make the nation prosperous and everybody will benefit by it. What that really means is; “I only care about your civil-rights if I don’t have to help you get them.”

Over the years, I have distanced myself from the people in my life that have minimized the importance of LGBT equality and replaced them with wonderful friends who have the ability, strength, and integrity to fight against inequality for us all.

In closing, I’d like to express how much my heart aches at being thrown under the bus by the same people who I have loved throughout my lifetime. I still care about them, but I will never fully believe their sincerity in saying they care about me. And that, my friends, is truly a loss because I can be fiercely devoted to those whom I trust and love.

Believe

“A difference of opinion versus a difference of truth. An example of a difference of opinion is when two people don’t like the same color or when one prefers carpet and the other prefers tile. An example of a difference of truth is when one person understands and accepts real facts while the other person distorts the facts to match what they want to believe is real.” – Steven Goth

Cross-200One of society’s most problematic words is BELIEVE. Religious people have used it for thousands of years. They believe that “God’s word” is the foundation from which all thinking should begin and end. Unless God himself said it or his faithful follows scribbled it down on a papaya leaf as being real, the “believers” will not believe it!

Gay people have battled against this word for centuries because the believers insist homosexuality is a choice while the gays insist their sexuality is natural. The believers believe the gays have an agenda to destroy the very fabric of society by advocating for equality while the gays believe the believers have an agenda to destroy society through discrimination, judgment, and hate.

It’s hard to believe that in 2014 many of the world’s societies are still living by senseless religious rules from the ancient past. It’s even harder to believe that citizens of a modern country like America still cling to their self-righteous ideals of religious supremacy.

The good news is the tide is turning against the Christian values which many Americans mistakenly believe is the foundation of American culture. Gays, women, minorities and all others who have been bullied by those Christian values are no longer accepting that “truth” and have been diligently fighting back against it.

The day will come when the true minority in America will be the religious folks and the majority will be the free-thinking, compassionate, accepting, realistic folks who understand the difference between reality and religious fiction and will design the future accordingly.

(If this video stops and starts, click off the HD feature on the play bar.)