A conservative radio host walks into a gay bar…

Michael Berry

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Conservative talk radio host and former city council member Michael Berry has been implicated in a hit and run accident outside of T.C.’s show bar last month. Berry has not been charged with a crime. In Texas leaving the scene of an accident is a misdemeanor.

KPRC reports that a bouncer for the gay bar witnessed a hit and run collision on Jan. 31st. The bouncer, Tuderia Bennett, wrote down the license plate of the vehicle and later identified Berry, the owner of the vehicle, as the man he had seen driving. Since then video of Berry inside the bar has been released.

And then the blogosphere exploded…

Houston Chronicle Newswatch blog: Michael Berry accused of ramming vehicle at gay club

Perez Hilton: Um, Oops? Conservative Radio Host Accused Of Hit-And-Run After Visiting Gay Bar

Texas Observer: Homophobic Radio Host Busted at Gay Bar

Towleroad: Conservative Talk Radio Host Michael Berry Was Definitely At That Gay Bar In Houston …

The site gayhomophobe.com even added Berry to their listing of famous homophobes later caught up in gay sex scandals.

The only issue with all this schadenfreude is that, as far as I can tell, Michael Berry isn’t particularly homophobic. The radio host has criticized other right-wing personalities for their homophobia. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time listening to old episodes of Berry’s show over the last few days (a painful experience) and I’ve yet to find anything hateful towards the LGBT community (please correct me if I’ve missed something).

Controversial black-face drag character Shirley Q. Liquor is a regular guest on Berry’s program which would seem to indicate that Berry at least has no issue with drag  queens (nor, would it seem, does Berry have any issues with astoundingly racially insensitive performances that rely on the most vulgar of African-American stereotypes).

I’m not saying that Michael Berry’s good guy (he once advocating bombing a proposed mosque in lower Manhattan), but I have to question why the media in general, and the LGBT media in particular, have been so quick to paint him as a homophobe caught with his pants down.

Perhaps after decades of Sen. Larry “wide stance” Craig and Rev. George “luggage lifter” Reker it’s an easy narrative to latch on to. But it’s concerning that this story has become about Michael Berry being the sort of person who (allegedly) visits gay bars instead of being about Michael Berry being the sort of jerk who (allegedly) hits a parked car and then drives off.

A conservative radio host walks into a gay bar, walks out, gets into his car, hits another car, and drives off… and what we find shocking isn’t the crime, but that he was in a gay bar.

What a joke.

—  admin

The good, the bad & the ‘A-List’

These arts, cultural & sports stories defined gay Dallas in 2011

FASHIONS AND FORWARD  |  The Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the DMA, above, was a highlight of the arts scene in 2011, while Dirk Nowitzki’s performance in the NBA playoffs gave the Mavs their first-ever — and much deserved — world title. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

FASHIONS AND FORWARD | The Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the DMA, above, was a highlight of the arts scene in 2011, while Dirk Nowitzki’s performance in the NBA playoffs gave the Mavs their first-ever — and much deserved — world title. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

A lot of eyes were focused on Dallas nationally in 2011 — for good and bad — but much of what made the city a fun place last year has specific queer appeal. CULTURE The rise of the reality TV star. 2011 was the year Dallas made a big splash across everyone’s television sets — and it had nothing to do with who shot J.R. (although that’s pending). From the culinary to the conniving, queer Dallasites were big on the small screen. On the positive side were generally good portrayals of gay Texans. Leslie Ezelle almost made it all the way in The Next Design Star, while The Cake Guys’ Chad Fitzgerald is still in contention on TLC’s The Next Great Baker. Lewisville’s Ben Starr was a standout on MasterChef. On the web, Andy Stark, Debbie Forth and Brent Paxton made strides with Internet shows Bear It All, LezBeProud and The Dallas Life,respectively.

‘A’ to Z  |  ‘The A-LIst: Dallas,’ above, had its detractors, but some reality TV stars from Big D, like Chad Fitzgerald, Leslie Ezelle and Ben Starr, represented us well.

‘A’ to Z | ‘The A-LIst: Dallas,’ above, had its detractors, but some reality TV stars from Big D, like Chad Fitzgerald, Leslie Ezelle and Ben Starr, represented us well.

There were downsides, though. Drew Ginsburg served as the token gay on Bravo’s teeth-clenching Most Eligible: Dallas, and the women on Big Rich Texas seemed a bit clichéd. But none were more polarizing than the cast of Logo’s The A-List: Dallas. Whether people loved or hated it, the six 20somethings (five gays, one girl) reflected stereotypes that made people cringe. Gaultier makes Dallas his runway. The Dallas Museum of Art scored a coup, thanks to couture. The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk not only featured the work of the famed designer, but was presented the designs in an innovative manner. Nothing about it was stuffy. Seeing his iconic designs in person is almost a religious experience — especially when its Madonna’s cone bra. Gaultier reminded us that art is more than paintings on a wall. (A close runner-up: The Caravaggio exhibit in Fort Worth.) The Return of Razzle Dazzle. ­­There was speculation whether Razzle Dazzle could actually renew itself after a near-decade lull, but the five-day spectacular was a hallmark during National Pride Month in June, organized by the Cedar Springs Merchant Association. The event started slowly with the wine walk but ramped up to the main event street party headlined by rapper Cazwell. Folding in the MetroBall with Deborah Cox, the dazzle had returned with high-profile entertainment and more than 10,000 in attendance on the final night. A Gathering pulled it together. TITAS executive director Charles Santos took on the daunting task of producing A Gathering, a collective of area performance arts companies, commemorating 30 years of AIDS. Groups such as the Dallas Opera, Turtle Creek Chorale and Dallas Theater Center donated their time for this one-of-a-kind show with all proceeds benefiting Dallas’ leading AIDS services organizations. And it was worth it. A stirring night of song, dance and art culminated in an approximate 1,000 in attendance and $60,000 raised for local charities. Bravo, indeed. The Bronx closed after 35 years. Cedar Springs isn’t short on its institutions, but when it lost The Bronx, the gayborhood felt a real loss. For more than three decades, the restaurant was home to many Sunday brunches and date nights in the community. We were introduced to Stephan Pyles there, and ultimately, we just always figured on it being there as part of the fabric of the Strip. A sister company to the neighboring Warwick Melrose bought the property with rumors of expansion. But as yet, the restaurant stands steadfast in its place as a reminder of all those memories that happened within its walls and on its plates.  The Omni changed the Dallas skyline. In November, The Omni Dallas hotel opened the doors to its 23-story structure and waited to fill it’s 1,000 rooms to Dallas visitors and staycationers. Connected to the Dallas Convention Center, the ultra-modern hotel is expected to increase the city’s convention business which has the Dallas Visitors and Conventions Bureau salivating — as they should. The hotel brought modern flair to a booming Downtown and inside was no different. With quality eateries and a healthy collection of art, including some by gay artists Cathey Miller and Ted Kincaid, the Omni quickly became a go-to spot for those even from Dallas. SPORTS The Super Bowl came to town. Although seeing the Cowboys make Super Bowl XLV would have been nice for locals, the event itself caused a major stir, both good and bad. Ticketing issues caused a commotion with some disgruntled buyers and Jerry Jones got a bad rap for some disorganization surrounding the game. But the world’s eyes were on North Texas as not only the game was of a galactic measure, but the celebs were too. From Kardashians to Ke$ha to Kevin Costner, parties and concerts flooded the city and the streets. The gays even got in on the action. Despite crummy weather, the Super Street Party was billed as the “world’s first ever gay Super Bowl party.” The ice and snow had cleared out and the gays came out, (and went back in to the warmer clubs) to get their football on. The XLV Party at the Cotton Bowl included a misguided gay night with acts such as Village People, Lady Bunny and Cazwell that was ultimately canceled. The Mavericks won big. The Mavs are like the boyfriend you can’t let go of because you see how much potential there is despite his shortcomings. After making the playoffs with some just-misses, the team pulled through to win against championship rivals, Miami Heat, who beat them in 2006. In June, the team cooled the Heat in six games, taking home its first NBA Championship, with Dirk Nowitzki appropriately being named MVP. The Rangers gave us faith. Pro sports ruled big in these parts. The Mavericks got us in the mood for championships and the Texas Rangers almost pulled off a victory in the World Series. With a strong and consistent showing for the season, the Rangers went on to defend their AL West Division pennant. Hopes were high as they handily defeated the Detroit Tigers in game six, but lost the in the seventh game. Although it was a crushing loss, the Texas Rangers proved why we need to stand by our men.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 6, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

Broken Mould

Queer punk pioneer Bob Mould turned an abusive childhood into a musical movement, but memoir targets hardcore fans

2.5 out of 5 stars
By Bob Mould (with Michael
Azerrad). 2001 (Little, Brown)
$25; 404 pp.

It all starts with “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” It continues with the itsy-bitsy spider, the ABCs and being a little teapot. From there, you embrace whatever your older siblings are listening to until you develop your own musical tastes. Maybe you started with records, moved on to the cassette tapes, CD and now, your iPod is full.

The point is, you’ve never been without your tunes.

But what about the people who make the music you love?

When Mould was born in 1960 in the northernmost end of New York, he entered a family wracked with grief: Just before he was born, Mould’s elder brother died of kidney cancer. He surmises that the timing of his birth resulted in his being a “golden child,” the family peacekeeper who sidestepped his father’s physical and psychological abuse.

“As a child,” he writes, “music was my escape.”

Mould’s father, surprisingly indulgent, bought his son guitars and young Bob taught himself to play chords and create songs. By the time he entered high school, Mould knew that he had to get out of New York and away from his family. He also knew he was gay, which would be a problem in his small hometown.

He applied for and entered college in Minnesota, where he started taking serious guitar lessons and drinking heavily. His frustrations led him to launch a punk rock band that made a notable impact on American indie music.

Named after a children’s game, Hüsker Dü performed nationally and internationally, but Mould muses that perhaps youth was against them. He seemed to have a love-hate relationship with his bandmates, and though he had become the band’s leader, there were resentments and accusations until the band finally split.

HUSKER DON’T | Bob Mould turned his youthful rage and homosexuality into a music career. (Photo by Noah Kalina)

But there were other bands and there were other loves than music, as Mould grew and learned to channel the rage inside him and the anger that volcanoed from it.

“I spent two years rebuilding and reinventing myself,” writes Mould. “Now that I’ve integrated who I am and what I do, I finally feel whole.”

If you remember with fondness the ‘80s, with its angry lyrics and mosh pits, then you’ll love this book. For most readers, though, See a Little Light is going to be a struggle. Mould spends a lot of time on a litany of clubs, recording studios, and locales he played some 30 years ago — which is fine if you were a fellow musician or a rabid, hardcore fan. This part of the book goes on… and on… and on, relentlessness and relatively esoteric in nature.

Admittedly, Mould shines when writing about his personal life but even so, he’s strangely dismissive and abrupt with former loves, bandmates, and even family. I enjoyed the occasional private tale; unfortunately there were not enough.

Overall, See a Little Light is great for Mould fanboys and those were heavy into the punk scene. For most readers, though, this book is way out of tune.

— Terri Schlichenmeyer

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Sheriff Lupe Valdez, a Democrat, on why she’s going to the Log Cabin Republicans Convention

Sheriff Lupe Valdez

The Log Cabin Republicans will hold their National Convention in Dallas this coming weekend, and we’ll have a full story in Friday’s print edition. But because the convention actually begins Thursday, we figured we’d go ahead and post the full program sent out by the group earlier this week.

Perhaps the biggest surprise on the program is a scheduled appearance by gay Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, who is of course a Democrat.

Valdez, who’ll be one of the featured speakers at a Saturday luncheon, contacted us this week to explain her decision to accept the invitation from Log Cabin (not that we necessarily felt it warranted an explanation). Here’s what she said: 

“We have more things in common than we have differences, but it seems like in politics we constantly dwell on our differences,” Valdez said. “If we continue to dwell on our differences, all we’re going to do is fight. If we try to work on our common issues, we’ll be able to accomplish some things.”

On that note, below is the full program. For more information or to register, go here.

—  John Wright

Gay Love Looks Just Like Straight Love (Inside Your Brain)

It doesn't matter if you're a straight gal looking at your wedding photos or a gay man Skypeing with your partner: the areas of the brain that "light up" when people see their romantic partners are the exact same whether you're a man or woman, or straight or gay, report University College London researchers. Activity in the cortical and sub-cortical regions — basically your brain's happy centers, rich with dopamine — was examined using functional magnetic resonance imaging scans (i.e. fancy brain scans), and found that while "some brain regions showed increased activity when lovers viewed images of romantic partners, others shut down, such as parts of the temporal, parietal, and frontal cortex, which are thought to be important in judgment. That finding lends credence to the adage that 'love is blind,'" says Semir Zeki, a professor at the school's Wellcome Trust Center for Neuroimaging.

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—  admin

GetEqual from the inside

On Monday, October 11th, President Obama and Nancy Pelosi visited a DCCC fundraiser held at the Miami home of a basketball player who makes way too damn much money for playing a game.  You've no doubt heard about the Get Equal protest since then, good things and bad things.
On the way between the airport and the home, the President was greeted in two locations there wasn't supposed to be anything by people who came from all over the country to hold banners, support them, and educate people on what we were saying.  The President saw the message.  And if that wasn't enough, there were banners flying overhead, and there were boats 1000 yards offshore with megaphones and sirens while he was at the beach front property, and, although someone who was supposed to get in to the party was turned down for being gay, and therefore apparently a security risk,  the message that he has not lived up to what he told the entire country one January was delivered, and not merely by Get Equal, but by the people who were at the party itself.
Because they agreed: the President hasn't achieved the kind of change they were there to donate to support.
I know this, because I was there. And I was there, in part, to find out what it was like.  To find out and share with you what doing one of these things feels like and the risks one takes, and the work one does.
And I did.

On Thursday, October 7th, just before noon, I got a call from my Co-Chair in Arizona TransAlliance Erica Keppler. She first made sure that I was aware this was a top secret, eyes only sort of thing.  Not to be shared with others. Then she told me what she knew: Get Equal was planning an action, and she was inviting me to be a part of it.
I said sure.  And then promptly forgot it because I'm already really busy and I tend to be very focused on what I'm doing right then (and lately it's a lot of behind the scenes work for the trans charity I run).
I am always willing to take part in actions, but I'm limited, like many trans people, by the fact that I'm not making any money at all.  I run a charity that I don't take money from for a salary because it doesn't make enough money for me to justify such and I at least have a roof over my head, which the trans people my charity house cannot say.
Get Equal solved that problem very simply.  They paid for airfare and a place to sleep and shower, which is pretty much all I need to do anything.  Everything was handled privately, quietly, and, of course, secretly.
My weekend was full —  which worked out rather well, as at 3 am Sunday morning I had to wake up in a hurry and pack a single bag very fast, as my flight out was at 5 in the morning. As I noted, I basically forgot about it.
At the airport, I met four other folks from Phoenix who were traveling — altogether, 8 of us from Phoenix were heading out, and among that group were people who were much younger than my *mumble* years of age.  They are the current generation of activists and advocates, the people who are actually doing the work that has to be done, the one's who are bearing the torch for this new millennium and who will live to see the things we want to see done in law and will be the ones that do it.
We flew fast and furious — crammed in an early morning flight that was full and included a change of planes.  Carry on luggage only — the info we had was that we would arrive Sunday morning, do the job on Monday, and fly out Tuesday morning. We were met at the airport by the first Get Equal “staffer”, Dan Fotou, who had spent the morning so far shuttling people between Ft Lauderdale and the Holiday Inn in the Coral Gables area near the University of Miami. He looked like he was tired and had too much sun, but he was energized and committed and he showed a sense of leadership. Checked into the hotel, and in the room, and it was, locally, now noonish, and we had free time until 8 that night, as other people were coming in throughout the day from all over the country.
Some folks took advantage of the free trip to Miami to visit South Beach, while I and the other gals from Phoenix went out for happy hour cocktails and appetizers at a TGI Fridays (it was what was close by and available).
Eight pm came, and we had a long meeting that finally explained what we were going to do, and what the point of the effort was.  THe event was very well organized, given that the knoweldge of the President's whereabouts was less than a week old, and people were being broght in from all over the country.
I also want to note something that is important to remember here: most of the people involved are not members of Get Equal.  Myself, for example — I'm the Executive Director of a Trans charity and Co-Chair of a small, local trans rights political organization.  Get Equal is not in there.  There were SoulForce riders from the 2010 ride, students from Alaska and DC, activists who walk 100 miles and take the time to talk to people in rural areas about the rights of LGBT people to marry and live their lives, changing the hearts and minds and one thing that bound all of us together is that we were all people who did education primarily as our main work in terms in activism and advocacy. As such, we were aware that education is only going to take you so far — those who have been educated need to reminded of that education.
We talked briefly about who we were and what we'd done, and the meeting then went into the details. They had a map of the area we were going to be involved in, not to scale, and drawn somewhat hastily. We discussed probable routes of the president, and there were questions and answers and commentary from those assembled.  There were, at that point, four teams ready: two teams on the route the president was likely to take, one team on the water in boats that were offered up (by gay white males with money, I'll point out — they can be useful sometimes) that had weather balloons available with Banners attached to the boat and the balloons, and possibly one team inside the event who were potentially going to do some action in keeping with the formality of the event.
The event itself was a fundraiser.  A fundraiser that involved several thousand dollars for a plate, 1000 just to get in the door and have a drink (and not hear the president inside the tent) or 16,000 bucks (thereabouts) in order to get a picture with the President. The purpose was to raise money for the Democratic party.  Not for LGBT people, not for LGBT issues, not for candidates that support LGBT issues, but for the DCCC.  Basically, to raise the slush fund that allowed those who were hand picked by the DCCC as deserving enough of this money (read, popular among the rich and wealthy few, and easily swayed by the rich and wealthy few) to get some of it.
LGBT candidates would see little, if any, of this money, and candidates who like to talk a good game but not actually do anything would as well as those democrats who work against LGBT issues would get this money.
So this was also an educational event for them.
We talked about the risk, and this particular event was not about getting arrested, but that was still a possibility.  As a trans person, the concept of being arrested brings up challenges.  Especially since being post operative is not a guarantee that you will be housed properly, despite some trans people liking to say it is.
Were I not willing, personally, to be arrested, I wouldn't have gone in the first place. And I wasn't the only one with some concerns: the racial make up in the room, much to my personal surprise, was not all that pale.  People of color were not only represented, we were representing in that meeting, and in the following day's meeting, and through the entire action.
So there was talk about the possibility of being arrested, and what would be done, and what to say, and how to make sure that things go well not only then, at the moment of arrest, but also after arrest, for arraignment, and even potentially for trial.  The bases were well covered, and there was very obviously a lot of effort put into making sure that the chances of being arrested were actually minimal.  THis was not a reckless action, it was well planned, and, ultimately, well executed.
People signed up, as well, to do different jobs — because there were absolutely different jobs involved.  Some folks were specifically assigned to do filimg of the action at each location Others were there to make sure that sunscreen and water were available (and, in the case of my team, that those who smoked had cigarettes there).  Input was taken from the people involved int he action — this was not a top down style effort, it was a grassroots effort — the people doing the work had more say than the end total of about four people from Get Equal that finally were involved directly.
Then, after the meeting, we were free again, and I went to my room and caught up with personal emails and the recent news (I hadn't touched my computer for two days). Due to some events back home surrounding my job, I ended up not getting to bed until 3 am that night.
At the meeting, we were all given release forms that were basic and simple — as many will know, I've written many of this type of form myself, and I have to deal with such on a daily basis in my job. I read through them carefully, and there was nothing bad in it.  It was, overall, mostly in my favor, and focused on making sure that GetEqual wasn't undermined by someone who hates them. The rest of the form was emergency contact information and medical stuff — things that would be important if someone was hurt or attacked during an action, or if someone was arrested.  People will know what's going on with you if you ever have the chance to take part in one, and I strongly recommend you take that opportunity if it ever knocks at your door.
There were also a lot of people who were from Miami locally, as well, that showed up the next day. The morning meeting introduced the rest of the team, and Robin McGehee showed up and other individuals involved in GetEqual were there, but also a large contingent of Flordia people, including one of the folks who famously chained themselves to the White house fence.  He was interviewed while he held a banner by two different groups, and widely photographed.
I will note that I opted not to be photographed during the event by the press. Not that it mattered much — apparently I no longer appear to be all that much like what people expect a former Army Ranger to look like.
The message that was delivered was two fold, and there were plenty of banners available, as well as hand held individual sings that were there as a back up.  The first message was to sop the discharges, and as ya'll can expect, I made sure that people were aware that the same executive order process could be used to end the discharge of trans people the military as well, which will happen with or without DADT.
What?  I'm a trans activist.  You expected anything less?
The second message was that LGBT people are not going to donate to the DCCC or the DNCC — no slush fund money from us.  We will donate to individual candidates who don't waffle and play some stupid and no longer viable game of secretly supporting all our stuff but only going with the politically expedient stuff.
The plan was aware of the nature of what we were dealing with.  there were two small parks in the area somewhat near where we were going, and each was the base of operations for one of those two parks.  We brought food, frisbees, and water in separate vehicles to each park, showing up to the parks about 90 minutes before we were going to do anything.
At the park for the team I was part of, we were 9 of us.  We got there, and there was a guy sitting there in a long sleeve dress shirt reading a book, and watching everything that anyone there was doing. There were other folks enjoying the park as well. He, however, was unusually nosy, and in a way that is familiar to me, personally.
He asked what group we were with.  He asked each of us, privately, quietly.
We took pictures of us at the park, we marveled at the trees (there were some incredible ones there). And we played a game of frisbee with three frisbees in the air all at once.  We had fun, in other words, and we looked like we were just gathering at the park.  We didn't talk about the action, or pay too much attention to the time.
But the time was important.  At the time when most of the people heading in to attend the event were starting to drive up, we climbed into our van and we were dropped off at a location close to the entrance to the gated community in which his was taking place. Our driver then left and waited for us to call him when we needed to picked up.  This is one of the jobs that's available at actions, and they can always use help in this area.  Drivers aren't likely to get arrested. While en route, we all changed into our t-shirts that we wore. If you see any video of our part, I'm most probably the one in the green hat.
The rest of us headed to the location that had already been scouted out.  The police were already there, and we set up directly at the entrance tot he community on the two corners going into it. I was the designated support person, and one of the two who were doing some filming.  My friend Meg Sneed was the point contact and leader of our group, so she handled the interactions with the authorities.
She's a stubborn gal, that Meg.
Shortly after we set up, the Secret Service (which never once directly addressed us), informed the police that we couldn't be there and we had to be moved. While the rest of us stood our ground and answered the questions of people stopping, waved back at the vast majority of cars that honked in support of us, and hoped it would cool off a tad, she took on the police.
The Secret Service wanted us moved to a location that was all but invisible.  We were forbidden to stand on three corners.  We were honest and upfront, as well — we were willing to move to a particular corner, but we were not going to leave.
We ended up moving, and, actually, the cops were on our side.  They moved us to what was really a better position at the time, and worked out in our favor, as even more people were able to ask what we were doing and being supportive, and no one going into the event could avoid us, no matter what direction they were coming from.  Several of the party goers stopped or slowed down to ask what we were doing, and gave thumbs up and honked and the discussion was going to happen in side at the party about what we were doing and why we were doing it.
This was two hours before the President was even in Miami.
In the next two hours, only one car — a beat up truck, I'll note, driven by a white male in his late 40's early 50's — had anything negative to say.  One car out of over 300 cars that went by.  Maybe a tenth were silent otherwise. The rest, though, were supportive of what we were doing, and there was whooping and hollering and honking and even the cops were laughing about it.
Even the latino owned and operated landscape company trucks gave us the thumbs up as they went through — and this is an area with a lot of money.
Did we change minds and hearts?  Absolutely. And we educated and we raised awareness, and we did all of that while holding the fire to the feet of a President who can end all of this with a single order if he can find the courage of the convictions he's claimed to do so. This event was not widely publicized. Still, the media found us, and even the local news trucks drove by a couple times to make sure they were seeing what was going on with us — and dropped off photographers and reports, who interviewed people, including the local Florida resident and Veteran on our team.
As the time grew closer, the cops began to move again, and the place we had been put was changed once more, and in the process of this we learned that the route that he was expected to come down was not the route he actually took.  And a different sergeant came over and told us we had to move.  For safety, although where we were was still plenty safe for us (and it was our safety they spoke of, not the President's).
At first, they were going to move us to a place that was absolutely invisible given the route POTUS was going to take. We stood our ground and then he suggested a different location, and we were given position.  About this time, some strong Obama and Democratic party supporters who were there to show support for local candidates showed up.  It was a small party, and they were not happy to see us there, and at least one of them did everythng she could to stay as far away from us as she could, to the chiding of her fellow party.
We all settled in, and we were all supporting the President, which they at first thought we were not doing.  One of their party came over, and he and I got into a conversation regarding the job of the president. He talked about how Obama doesn't have the votes in Congress to do it, and I pointed out that The President is Commander in Chief, who has the power to stop all of this in a single moment, without congressional action of any sort, so congress wasn't needed, and then I reminded him that Obama had said he would do this before the end of the year in January, which he remembered. And he noted that Congress isn't supposed tobe making rules regarding the military in that way, and when I pointed out that I was a veteran, he gave me a salute and a thanks and I waved that off — having served in secrecy didn't make me a heroine. It made me part of the problem.
He left, and he talked to his team, and when we left, they all were on our side in things.
As the Motorcade got underway, the road was closed off, and we lined up across the street, a negotiated position that made the secret service visibly unhappy, and by then even the cops were shrugging and saying “whatever”.  They had, by then, helped us into a better position each time we'd had to move, trying to aid us in getting our message heard and seen, and the Coral Gables Police should be commended for their support of our action.
As well as including some of the hottest cops around.
As the president drove by, we could see him through the window, and the car had to slow down to enter the gate, so he had a good, long, and solid look at the banners, since he was on the same side as them looking out.  He waved at us, an acknowledgment that yes, we were there, regardless of how his eyes might have flashed.
And that was the point.  To make him aware we were there.  To remind him, to do as he's said we must do and hold *him* accountable, as that's what he asked us to do — to hold him, personally, and as the holder of that office, accountable for what he promised us before the entire nation.
We did. And say what you will, while he might regret the words, I'm willing to bet he's actually glad of it.  He's a long way from his early career, and he's got a lot of separation now from the people that he once had to talk to on a daily basis in his early years.  He's had a meteoric rise to office — an unprecedented one, as well.  Things like this are going to remind him that he's still the person who ran those old campaigns, and he's the person who will, either in two years or in 6, have to look over what's really the highlight of his career, unless he's planning to shoot for the Supreme court himself like another former President once did.
After he drove by, we were done.  We quickly packed up our water bottles, our sunscreen, collected our banners and ourselves, and we headed back to the hotel, stopping briefly to get a picture of our team.  Back at the hotel, we debriefed (read: swapped war stories of the action) and we separated fora  few hours.
After that we had a dinner outside — chinese food, including vegetarian options. And the conversations started and those ran until 2 am once more.  We took the picture accompanying this piece during that dinner, and Erica Keppler was recognized as the VIP of the event, for she had proved to have constant energy.  Earlier in the day, she was asked to switch teams and join the team out on the boat, and she proved useful and helpful in many ways there, which is a credit to the woman who got her going, and who's shoes I'll never fill as the other half of Arizona Trans Alliance's Chairs.
I also think she lived on Adrenaline, and have to thank her for putting up with me having really late nights, which likely shortened her sleep.  As the two trans folk involved, we had a room for ourselves, which was something the GetEqual team had taken into account.
After that, it was another early call, and Erica (of the boundless energy) woke me up with 15 minutes to spare, and we headed to the airport and back home.
As is usual, it's the time after and before actions and activities, especially at night, that make the difference.  We sat and talked and we talked about making a difference and educating and the frustrations of how the media often ignores us — although this time they didn't, and they are starting to catch on.
And we met each other, and each time you meet someone, your world is expanded, your knoweldge is increased, and you learn that it does get better, because we are the people who make it better.  We are the people, those of us, living today, who are willing to step out and do things — whatever it is — that are making it better, just as it has been the activists, the one's who speak out, that have made things better for the last 50 years.
TO my Trans brothers and sisters, who may be wondering why I took part in something about cis folks, let me say this: get involved.  We can bitch and moan and gripe about how Cis folk are always a pain in the ass (because, well, ya are, cis folk), the way we can change these things is by doing this.  After the action, I talked, in person, with Robin McGehee, and she said the standard party line to me about how Stonewall was started by us.
Unprompted, unasked for.  She gets it.  But she needs help — and she's willing to stop and examine her own preconceptions when she's educated (and ya'll know how I am: all trans, all the time).
And her and I spoke about doing some actions specifically for the Trans community, and there's likely to be a lot more speaking and planning done on that, and you can be certain that there will be a great deal done regarding ENDA in the future as well — this is not a Gay Inc group, no matter where the money comes from to run it (and remember that Get Equal is funded).
We've talked about a grass roots based group in the blogs for a long time now — we have one.  One that hears from the bottom up, not dictates from the top down.  And yeah, there's some flaws int he process and the leadership, but they are working on ironing that out.
No, you won't see me on the board, provisional or whatever.  I'm still Dyssonance, and just because I like what they are doing as a whole doesn't free them from criticism of stupidity they might have done in the past or almost certainly will in the future.  But if I can participate in future actions, I will.  TO represent the Trans community, to educate and shape policy and focus, and to give them what they need the most: bodies.
This is an organization that needs people more than money right now.  People willing to step up.  And as Trans people, we don't have money, but we sure as hell have bodies.
Let's give them what they need, and then make damn sure to keep them from the same hypocrisy they are condemning.  let's us hold their feet to the fire and keep them accountable for what they've said.
They say they support the Trans Agenda.
Without reservation.  Let's show them we do, as well.  Because let me tell ya — it's a blast.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright