Monday Memes 9

I have to admit, I look forward to Mondays on my blog the most. I love memes, graphics, drawings – they are like little condensed “micro posts,” visually-appealing gems of advice, commentary or ideas. They are fantastic – and today’s singular meme is, in my opinion, THE.BEST.ONE.EVER. Please – promise me you will actually read all the text; in fact, if you could read it aloud, so you can hear yourself say these things, that would be fantastic. I have to confess, this little graphic is now my life manifesto. Enjoy!

this is your life

To the creator of this graphic, whoever you are, I say “THANKS!” This is amazing…

A New Day in the Post-DOMA World

Sunday, 29 June 2014 – In the now year since the demise of Section 3 of DOMA, the following events have NOT happened: heterosexual marriages have not been destroyed, society has not fallen into a giant Hellish morass of moral decay and the world has not teetered off its axis and spun wildly out into space. I was thinking about the past year today and thought it might makes sense to re-blog my post from one year ago, to give the past year a sense of history. Enjoy.

five - a blog

Today – for reasons that don’t really matter – I woke up at 6AM.

6AM. I know, right? Ugh… I have to admit, I was a little afraid to wake up today…

sunrise

After yesterday – probably the biggest, best “LGBT Day”and “Immigration News”day IN MY LIFE, I have to admit – I was just a little afraid to wake up for fear it had all been a dream.

To my very pleasant surprise, yesterday really happened. Know how I can tell?

Major, national LGBT lobbying groups have already bombarded my mailbox with requests for MORE for donations (so they continue their work). Internet chatter is saturated with this talking head babbling or this news anchor quoting some A-hole, saying how yesterday’s DOMA decision all but spells the end of civilization as we know it. I even heard a rumor of some states threatening to secede from The…

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CLE PRIDE “Wrap Up” 2014

Today (actually yesterday, at this point) was the 26th Annual Gay PRIDE celebration in Cleveland, Ohio. As with a number of years past, I was unable to attend due to work obligations and just general “grown-upp’ed-ness.” It is Sunday morning, 12:52 AM as I write this, and I know “the clubs” are still teeming with post-PRIDE revelers, riding the high of a day spent just “being gay,” fueled by inspiring speeches, I’m sure an electrifying performance by CLE PRIDE headliner Debra Gibson (the former “Electric Youth” Debbie Gibson of my early/mid 20’s), an army of female impersonators, gender queers, gay families with kids, gay families with dogs/cats/iguanas, LGBT vets, Gay and Gray groups, etc.

And The “Beer Garden,” the most popular attraction at any gay PRIDE celebration.   😉

PrideParadeRainbowBannerI found this image on BING; if you know the source/photographer, please let me know so I can credit it properly.

As for me? I just woke up beside three piles of clean-but-yet-to-be-folded laundry on my bed. It appears I have slept thru another PRIDE…

I mean no disrespect, and have actually enjoyed the images/status updates that have peppered my Facebook page all day. Cleveland PRIDE is 26 years old, one of the oldest continual PRIDE celebrations in America. That fact alone is a source of PRIDE (get it?) According to Cleveland.com (see link above), early estimates place PRIDE attendance this year at around 32,000 people. Not bad, CLE, not bad. Is it the 500,000 that Capitol PRIDE (Columbus, Ohio) boasted, or the over one MILLION said to attend World PRIDE in Toronto a week or so ago? Not even close – but I am PROUD of our PRIDE here in Cleveland, and thankful for its continued presence in our community.

I wish I could have supported PRIDE this year, but as so often happens, life and responsibilities got in the way again. For years I attended PRIDE and felt connected to a much larger community than was typically my day-to-day existence. For one day, for those few hours, we ARE all just one people – the barriers of sexuality, gender, race, class, age and ability all seem to fall away and for those few magical hours, we are all the same. I think THAT is the true magic and meaning/purpose of any PRIDE event. I never thought of it as a coming together of all these diverse groups within our own community, our community just being one diverse group within the much larger context of the general population; instead, I always likened gay PRIDE to a pride rally in high school – you know, the event before a big game where all the sub-groups of school (jocks, nerds, The Plastics, the every mans, all of them) just come together under one, singular umbrella to celebrate and build spirit. That is what PRIDE feels like to me – a gathering of many different people with one common goal – to celebrate all the facets of the LGBTQQIT/SA experience (we have WAY too many letters now, LOL!)

So, CONGRATS Cleveland, on another year of PRIDE! I hope the “party” goes beyond the next few hours, after the bars close, and continues for days, weeks, months and years to come. If “The Gays” know one thing, it is how to throw a party – let’s keep the spirit and purpose of this one going for as long as possible…

Stonewall, LGBT and Me

Today marks the 45th anniversary of The Stonewall Riots, largely recognized as the beginning of the gay rights movement in The United States and, in a slightly broader stroke, the world. In June 1969, I was a pre-pubescent, awkward man-child in a small town in Ohio. I didn’t know what a homosexual even was, although I do remember Terry M. got suspended from school for saying “homo” on the bus (he was a trouble-maker).

What I did know was that I liked boys. Even then, I knew it.

I mere five years later, armed with a fake ID and older-than-my-age facial hair, I nervously entered my first gay bar, Hugel’s Nite Club in Mansfield, Ohio. Affectionately nicknamed “Green Walls” after the peeling, reformatory green paint that covered every inside wall, the bar was tended by a “robust” woman named Arlene. If your ID was good enough – and if you didn’t cause any trouble – Arlene let you in to drink 3.2 beer (remember, this was Ohio in 1974; eighteen-year-olds could drink 3.2 beer). I hid nervously at tables back by the pool table, me, along with three other friends from high school – Matt, MJ and Carla. I was lucky – I had other “gays” in high school with me, and we all managed to find each other.

Hugel’s eventually morphed into Richard’s Nite Club. It was like a gay “Cheers,” where “everybody knows your name…” I loved it there.

Over the next 5-6 years, I met and became friends with all the other colorful denizens of Hugel’s/Richard’s: Larry and Beryl, Tom F. (he could run a pool table in rotation from the break using either only his right or left hand!), Jimmie the gay and his wife Linda, Connie and Nancy, Counts and Kuntz, Doe and Dee (lesbian twin sisters!), Kurt, Kirk, Chip, Donny, Harold and Phil, as well as Chris N., Kim C. and Michael G. – the beautiful “straights” from our local Arthur Murray’s Dance Studio (Michael turned “bi” eventually!) – Mike and Wendy Bee, Rico, Janet (his real name was William Jeffrey Ray), Bill B., Kevin, Henry “Who?”, Scott P.O.M.P., Randy and Klaus, Dave the Walrus, Ric and Doo-jee, Mother Jupiter and her daughter Moon Baby (not even kidding), Jack, Gene, Ron, Big Tim, Little Tim, Just Tim, “Chicken James,” Nanette, Terry, Kerry, Rick C., Michael H., Ike, Gersha and Brenda, Anthony Tony and Albert (my Mother’s dog groomer!) and so many, many others.

I felt safe and protected in that club, although I started hitting the bars at a time when the police department routinely drove thru the parking lot, taking down all the “queer license plate numbers.” We learned to walk out to our cars in pairs, or in a group – otherwise, the police would appear, shine bright lights in our face and ask “You been drinking?” As someone there on a fake ID, that would have been trouble. We protected and watched out for one another. The police also regularly came into the bar, made Arlene and later me (I  DJ’d at Richards’s for a while), turn off the music as they shouted “ID check.” The routine? We all stood up, pulled out our ID’s and the policemen passed among the crowd, checking ID’s and just generally hassling us homos. It sucked but years later, I would learn it was an ongoing, intolerable situation just like that that prompted the riots at The Stonewall Inn. That, and – some say – Judy Garland’s death…

Remembering-Stonewall-Riots1

remembering-stonewall-riots2

Remembering-Stonewall-11Times have certainly changed – in my own lifetime, I have gone from cowering in a corner of a shitty, dank bar to being legally married to my husband. We move freely in public as a couple – no need for “fake girl friends,” no need to speak in genderless pronouns. The struggle for LGBT equality continues to be waged and I like to consider myself a long-time soldier in that army. But for many young LGBTQ-er’s, all these past events, all these memories of past injustices are abstract. I wonder if they totally understand the journey, time and sacrifice/struggle it has taken to “get here.” I challenge everyone, all my alphabet siblings (LGBTQQI,TS,A’s: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, twin-spirited and straight allies) – to look to the future while remembering the past. It is hard to know when a journey is over unless you know where it started. I hope “Rudy” is right…

Remembering-Stonewall-RiotsThank you, patrons of The Stonewall Inn, for getting “the party started” forty-five years ago. I am thankful for your courage, your conviction and your “this is bullshit” attitude. Had I been there, I woudda’ been right there along side you…

Sleep Walking

sleep walkingToday (Thursday) seemed to be a very L-O-N-G day… In addition to all the usual happenings that make my life exhausting, Thursday also had a few client meetings (all went well), all sort of triangulated about 40 minutes apart by car. Each leg. Forty minutes. By the time I finally got home, I sat down on the couch, thinking I would just relax for a minute before I called Pop-pop (my Dad) to tell him good night.

The “Pop-pop Rule” is all calls in before 10P; when the phone rang at 10:12P, I knew I was in trouble…

I apologize for this lame-ass post today but I am wiped out. I am off tomorrow (Friday) so I plan on chillaxin’ and “taking it slow.” My fatigue is more mental than physical; I need to have a day (or half day – a few hours?) where my mind is empty. If possible, I’d like to even shut out any white noise. Maybe I will go for like a six mile walk tomorrow with ear plugs in. Six miles would be a goodly amount of time spent in the pursuit of exercise and the probably two hours of “head solitude” would be welcome…

Key Chain

I have never been a big fan of key chains. They always seem so big, or clumsy, or have a rubber great white shark attached that someone brought you back from their cruise to Guatemala or their trip to Costa Rica or something like that. Or worse, they have a plastic frame with a pic of you and your friend in it, taken when you were at “that” party in college. That party. Thirty years ago…

All that said, here is a key chain that I kinda’ connect with, especially today…

key chainMy Beloved has been away from me for a whole week now and, while I thought it would get “better,” it hasn’t. Not that it is getting any worse. I just miss him. I missed him fifteen seconds after he left and I still miss him that same way/much today. Sigh… I guess I am just pretty used to having that little guy around. And I miss that. I know he will be back soon, so I am OK, really. But I do kinda’ hope that old saying – “Time flies when you’re having fun!” – is true.

Sweetie? Hurry up and have a LOT of fun. Right away. A lot… 😉

Free Admission Everyday

We had another one today; typically we have at least four or five of them a week. They come into the store, are very polite, and the conversation generally goes something like this:

Me: Hello, how are you?

She: Great – I’m just looking, thanks.

(I didn’t ask what she was doing).

After a few minutes,

Me: Are there any questions I can answer for you, or anything in particular I can help you find?

She (again): No thank you, I’m really just looking. Thanks.

(OK, I believe you. You really are JUST looking).

I am not an annoying “hovercraft” (that is what I call salespeople that SMOTHER you as you shop, and are always in your face). I like to offer what I describe as “Silent Assistance” – I am available if needed, and remind shoppers once or twice I am, but I never, ever “push” or “crowd” a shopper.

After a few minutes, she politely approaches and says something like this – this speech varies a little from customer to customer, but pretty much sounds a lot like this:

She: Gosh, your store is so fantastic! It is so (insert “colorful, fun, affordable, cool, chic” – any number of adjectives here). Then there is ALWAYS a line like this:

She: There are LOTS of stores like yours in (insert any major cosmopolitan city here – Toronto, NYC, San Francisco, Chicago, DC, Portland, Miami). I wish we had MORE stores like yours here in Cleveland – you are the only one, right?

Me: Yes ma’am, we are an independent retailer, in business since 2007. Thank you for the compliment!

(And then comes the “summation”):

She: Well, your store is GREAT! I hope you do really, really well. I see LOTS of things in here I want. I’ll be back…

Then she turns, says goodbye and leaves without buying one flippin’ thing. Nothing. NADA.

museum-closed-peter-aielloIt is this woman, and other men and women like her, to whom I want to say the following:

Do you know why there are no other stores like ours in Cleveland? Because they couldn’t afford to stay open; they all CLOSED. We are not a museum, with no admission – everything we have is for sale and, while I appreciate your kind words and generous compliments, I’d rather you drop twenty bucks in our store and spare me all the small talk. I cannot pay my electric bill with your compliments, although they are greatly appreciated.

I hate to sound like some hard ass but retail stores, especially small indie stores like ours, need to generate INCOME to survive. I think it is an unfortunate and very prevalent misconception that if you “own your own business,” you are rich.

SO.NOT.TRUE. In fact, SO.NOT.EVEN.CLOSE.TO.BEING.TRUE.

Please – be it my store or any other independent retailer – share compliments when/if appropriate but, if you really LIKE the store, don’t tell us what you are GONNA’ buy, buy something now. Today. Help us stay in business. We’d appreciate it.

Otherwise, when you “come back,” we may not be there…