A Brief Introduction

Endeavoring to define myself outside of a "job title." I'm a nomad of sorts who fell in love with technology, activism, and helping others. I run a web & media consulting firm, have a blog specifically for activists & non-profits, and travel often. I love talking about theology, politics, and social change. I love doing something about it even more. I also like to be a well-rounded and fully present person. That's why I write here. Connect with me on twitter

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Speaking Up

I grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC and went to school at USC in Los Angeles. I thought I was insulated from anti-gay thinking. All of my friends were immensely supportive when I came out and my social circle has always included a mixing of gay and straight people.

When my roommate Ryan came home one night in 2006 shaken up with a scratched face, I was confused and concerned. While walking down the street with his boyfriend and our straight-identified friend, Chris, a rowdy group of guys heckled at them from a porch. They threw a beer bottle and taunted them "Where you fags going?" Ryan told them to mind their own business and the three of them continued on their way. I'm told that the next thing Ryan knew he was pushed to the ground. Chris was sucker-punched in the face before Ryan's boyfriend was able to insert himself as a human shield in the shuffle. They managed to walk away and some level-headed party-goers called the guys back in to the party.

I realized that even in Los Angeles, I'm still not safe.

Six months later as I walked through downtown Kansas City with a few friends I noticed myself flinching away from boyfriend's hand as we approached other people. It took a very conscious effort on my part to keep hold of my boyfriend's hand. As we passed straight couples I knew they weren't thinking about their interactions. They didn't have to be brave to walk down the street hand-in-hand.

I wait for the day when society will understand and appreciate all of its members, but in the meantime, I am thankful for legislation that seeks to root out the community terror which bias-based crimes create.

Share your story for why Hate Crimes legislation is important to you at Stop the Hate.

Updates from Jena

Donna Payne is the associate director for diversity at HRC.

-----Original Message-----
From: Donna Payne Sent: Thursday, September 20, 2007 10:31 AM
Subject: Re: Update in Jena

Jeffrey Johnson, activist from BET said District Atty Walters spoke to them yesterday to justify why they couldn't let Mychal out. He said it was a potential harm that might occur. Jeffrey Johnson said that Walters (DA) pulled the white youth out for press, talking about he was the victim and not to forget the victim. That was a emotional scare tactic used for press, Jeffrey Johnson stated. He asked if Walters was a psychic - since he knew what was going to happen if he was released! Ricky Smiley (black Christian comedian) spoke and asked where were the big bishops of black churches? The ones that were with the Faith Based Intiative, and fighting for the gay marriage amendment. Something that has nothing to do with us, he said.

There was loud clapping.

There is a break now with Christian music being played. Much Christian music is being played!
-----Original Message-----
From: Donna Payne Sent: Thursday, September 20, 2007 10:55 AM
Subject: Re: Update in Jena

Jesse Jackson has taken the stand. He told us that we are getting ready to march. He wants us to be calm. In the last MLK march in Memphis, before he was killed -rocks were thrown at marchers to provoke them. He wants us to not be distracted. He said we are marching against Federal Hate Crimes. It is not about Jena, but this happens across the country. He has asked that the white and black parents come together. The white parents wanted to talk to him, but they were encouraged not to do this. He says we will take reconciliation over confrontation. Everyone repeats this. Jesse, said we need healing, but we must take glass out of the wound. He puts stories from the Bible to tie it in. He said God will see us through. We will rise. It gets dark sometimes, but who do we fear? We will march until Jena 6 is free. Rise up, fight up, stand up. WEEPEING MAY ENDURE FOR Now, but joy comes in the morning. Leave Jena and go back and fight for all crimes.

I am inspired! I am ready to march! Everyone is ready. They chant: Keep Hope Alive! Stop the violence in FL, NY, MS. Let justice flow like a mighty stream.

Everyone screams! It is time to go!

I don't know what else I could possibly add.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Disappointing Day in Maryland

I read the news coverage four times. I had thought for certain that the Court of Appeals, the highest court in my home state of Maryland, would agree with a Baltimore judge's decision that barrring citizens from the institution of civil marriage based on gender is wrong. The decision has been pending for much longer than usual and I allowed myself to think they were working out the kinks of what would surely be a high-profile decision.

I was let down by the decision they handed down.

In a split 4-3 decision, the court ruled that gay and lesbian couples are not entitled to marriage. They did, however, point out that the General Assembly could grant it to them anyway. In his dissent, Justice Raker has this to say:

“It cannot be argued that same-sex couples are not denied significant benefits accorded to heterosexual couples. It is clear that there are significant differences in the benefits provided to married couples and same-sex couples in the areas of taxation, business regulation, secured commercial transactions, spousal privilege and other procedural matters, education, estates and trusts, family law, decision-making regarding spousal health care, insurance, labor and employment, child care and child rearing, pensions, and the responsibilities attendant to spousal funeral arrangements.”

I now place my trust in the Maryland lawmakers, that they will recognize this inequality and swiftly rectify it. And I trust the people of Maryland will not stand for anything less. It is moments like this that make contacting your representatives or standing up for equal rights even more important.

Human Requirements

The Point may or may not be the blog I read the most and I think that reflects on my own space as well. Since Gina Dalfonza took this Robert Heinlein quote from The Corner in the first place, I don't feel bad about taking it from her.

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher
a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a
wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act
alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer,
cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for

I think I agree.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Slaves to men

A recent trip to the Apple Repair Center made me realize exactly how enslaved I am. It will cost $800 - $1200 to repair my MacBook Pro. That's close to two weeks worth of pay. 10 days of my life. Eighty hours of my time. Assuming I didn't have other expenses such as a monthly rent, daily food, cell phone charges.

I'm already not getting cable and internet in my apartment, do I take the ultimate plunge and go without a computer? But I have editing to do which requires the computer ... do I need to do editing?

Have such a large bill dropped in my lap suddenly makes the connection between my time, my work, and money so much more apparent. I realized that I don't have much freedom at all.

And how can I change that? Move to the country? Grow my own food? Make my own clothes? How can I still be a part of society while attempting to maintain autonomy? Is it possible? I want it to be.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What is a fact?

The Associated Press reports that the kilogram is shrinking. Granted, it's only 50 micrograms smaller than averages of others around the world but it presents an interesting question: what are facts? And is the kilogram shrinking or are all the others one growing larger? If we can't even get a definite handle on a small cylindrical mass how can we think that we actually understand anything?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Public Privacy

It's a typical Thursday morning. I put my sunglasses on as I leave the house, pop in my earbuds and turn on my iPod, and walk a few blocks to the subway. I go down the stairs and take my place by the tracks. I try to smile at the person standing next to me. Then I fish out my book from my bag. Right now I'm reading another C.S. Lewis book, occasionally I pull out the latest version of The Advocate. The train comes, I manage to find a spot; sometimes standing, sometimes sitting. I smile at my new subway mates and if the train lurches or takes a fast corner, I will occassionally make a comment or two to the people standing near me. I try to be friendly.

Today was different. As I stood on the subway, music playing so loudly I couldn't hear any of the sounds around me, I noticed a passenger who looked surprisingly like my fellow Equality Rider Cray. I wondered to myself what Cray was up to. Then I wondered what this guy was up to. Was he anything like Cray? Where did he work? To my left stood a young man in a baseball cap, also wearing earphones. To my right were two guys with dress shirts, one read a newspaper, other listened to music. The woman in front of me sipped Starbucks while watching something on a portable media player. They all have lives and stories and even though I'm so close to them, I know nothing about them. And we've all setup our private sanctuaries in the middle of the bustling New York City subway.

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