Don’t Disappoint Me

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Last night was a watershed moment, with progressive electoral victories across the nation and plenty of firsts: first lesbian mayor of Seattle, six out transgender people elected, first African-American mayor of Charlotte, a Sikh mayor in Hoboken, a Liberian refugee winning mayor of Helena, MT!

This is how we take back our country. City by city, state by state, every damn election.

But we can’t win if we don’t show up on election day, though.

There are 2,974,434 registered voters in Louisiana. For the October 14th primary election only 401,499 of us voted.

That is 13.5% of voters.

Here in New Orleans where we had a mayor’s race as well the city council and judges, the turnout rose to 31.9%.

The Louisiana General/Orleans Municipal election is November 18. Early voting runs through November 11th.

If yesterday showed us anything, it was this: good people can win but it only happens when we stop bitching and moaning about what is happening to our country AND get to the fucking polls.

You want to make a difference? GO VOTE.

When we show up, we beat Trump’s picks and the other right-wing extremists holding this country hostage.

We must vote in EVERY election. Not just the presidential races. Every election, even if the only thing on your ballot is State Treasurer.

We can take back our country. Block by block, town by town, city by city, state by state, election by election.

Elections matter. Every single election matters.

Geaux Vote!

i-want-you-to-vote

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Asking for Trouble

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Women have had stories for years about the sexual misconduct of Harvey Weinstein and they weren’t heard or believed or, worse, they were punished with career ending and reputation ruining whisper campaigns. They aren’t the only women to face sexual abuse; just the latest in a long line. It seems like nearly every woman I know has been harassed at one point or another in their career.

Sometimes it is easier to hear things said in fiction than when you’re told about them in real life. I wrote this piece in response to the fashion designer, Donna Karan’s interview in defense of serial assaulter Harvey Weinstein. She is quoted as saying, “How do we present ourselves as women? … Are we asking for it, by presenting all the sensuality and all the sexuality? … I don’t think it’s only Harvey Weinstein … We have to look at our world … And how women are dressing and what they’re asking by just presenting themselves the way they do. What are they asking for? Trouble.”

Thanks to my friend Laura aka Brithna for challenging me to address those brand damaging remarks by writing a piece of Devil Wears Prada fan fiction.

Here is the result:

Title: Asking for Trouble
Author: Mary Griggs
Fandom: DWP
Pairing: Miranda/Andy
Rating: PG
Word Count: 3300

Summary: Andy comes home to find Miranda in the closet with Donna Karan.

Author’s Notes: Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox are the owners; I’m just letting the ladies play in my sandbox for a while.

Oh, and Bottomless Closet is a real thing!

**

Andy tossed her keys into the bowl on the table by the closet that had once nearly gotten her fired. She winced, even after seven years the foyer still sometimes had the power to trigger bad memories. While she could look back on her days as the premier fashion editor’s second assistant with nostalgia, no rose colored glasses could hide the true terror she felt after she interrupted Miranda and Stephen arguing that fateful evening.

But she was also thankful for it. Everything started to change then. By rising to Miranda’s challenge, instead of sinking, Andy began to come into her own power. She knew she’d never have managed to walk away in Paris if not for the spark lit by the acquisition of the Harry Potter manuscript.

A spark that remained banked for more than two years before she re-entered Miranda’s orbit again. And, it was that spark’s ignition, which led directly to the carefully tended flames of their current relationship.

Smiling now at her memories, she stirred the contents of the bowl and saw Miranda’s keys in there, too. Andy rubbed the ring between her fingers and giggled as she thought of the things the two of them might be able to do tonight.

She walked into the kitchen and pulled out the meat that had been marinating in the refrigerator. Andy washed her hands before preheating the oven. She put a little olive oil into Dutch oven and placed it over medium heat. She was humming as she used one of Miranda’s super sharp chef knives to dice an onion.

Scrapping the onion in the pot, she reduced the heat and stirred before tossing in some minced garlic and salt. Once the onions were translucent, she then poured in a portion of Arborio rice. She stirred it while it toasted and then poured in a quart of chicken stock. After another stir, she covered the pot and slid it into the oven.

Washing her hands again, she decided to go change and check in with Miranda before doing any more dinner prep. After glancing into the study and seeing it empty, Andy practically skipped up the stairs to their bedroom. The room was empty. The door to the bathroom was open and the room was likewise unoccupied.

Her brow furrowed and she called out, “Miranda?”

She heard a faint noise. Walking over to the closet she called again, “Miranda?”

“I’m back here.”

“Where?”

There was a beat or two of silence.

“In Narnia,” Miranda replied.

Andy beamed. When she had learned that Miranda had the bedroom next to hers converted into a climate-controlled room reachable through her closet, she had immediately christened it with the name of the magical world of CS Lewis that the children entered through a wardrobe.

Miranda hadn’t seemed amused but Andy knew if she was willing to call it that herself, they must have reached a new plateau in their relationship. After the first kiss, first fight, first make up sex, and first joint purchase, Andy was sure making cute names for things and having inside jokes surely showed that she and Miranda were united in all things that mattered.

She took Miranda’s answer as an invitation and walked through the first closet and into the next room. It was artfully designed with beautifully lit display cabinets and shelving units with glass doors holding brightly colored hanging items. In the center of the room was a vintage round couch of crushed cream velvet, where Miranda could sit facing any direction she wanted.

Many nights, Andy had woken from a deep sleep to an empty space beside her and a faint light glowing from the room. She would find Miranda deep in thought, staring at some of the beautiful items she had collected over the years.

Miranda might be facing the black dress designed by Givenchy and worn by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s or Princess Diana’s sea green sequined evening gown that was designed by Catherine Walker. Or maybe she would be looking at an Armani Prive gunmetal grey dress, encrusted with Swarovski crystals, which had been worn by Cate Blanchet. Over in one corner was the letterbox red Valentino dress worn by Anne Hathaway when she hosted the Academy Awards that Miranda seemed to like best.

She had explained that she was both soothed and inspired by the art of fashion.

Tonight she wasn’t mediating. Miranda was standing in front of a display cabinet along the back wall. There was a rolling metal rack with several items on it and small pile of fabric on the floor by the fashion maven’s feet.

Andy walked over and embraced Miranda from behind. “What’s this?” she asked.

“This is the Seven Easy Pieces collection from 1985.” Miranda opened the front of the case and ran her fingers over one of the black bodysuits.

“I’m sorry, love, but I need more than that.”

Miranda heaved a great sigh. “Donna Karan, you plebian.”

“I know DKNY.”

“That’s the affordable line, she’d been distant from that for years.” She pulled one of the black pieces off the mannequin and held up to Andy. “This is what started it all for working women.”

“Is that a unitard?”

“It is a body suit that mixes and matches with the other pieces.”

“Interesting.”

“She freed women from the power suit.” Miranda sighed. “It is most unfortunate she has likewise failed to free herself from outmoded ideas about why women are assaulted.”

“Yeah, I heard her interview. So insane. I can’t believe a woman fashion designer of all people would blame what women wear for getting them into trouble.”

“Especially when the trouble was caused by an incredibly powerful man abusing women whose very careers were dependent on him,” Miranda replied.

“Their stories are so painful. I can’t hardly believe he was able to keep doing it for as long he did. Why did so many wait so long before coming forward?”

“It isn’t an easy thing to do. Many rightfully fear their reputations will be ruined, that they’ll lose their job or be blacklisted. They know they will be blamed for putting themselves in the position of being alone with him, even when he used honeypots to lure them in.”

“Honeypots?”

“He had other women attend the meetings to begin with, so his victims would feel safe. He’d dismiss his assistants and then start the pressure, many times using force to get them to comply with his demands.”

“I can’t believe other women were helping him.”

“I would guess that while some didn’t know they were being used, many others were complicit because they, too, needed their jobs and his goodwill.” Miranda glanced at her. “Frankly, though, you’re making my point.”

“What?”

“Even now, you’re blaming the other women instead of holding him responsible for his actions.”

“Wow,” Andy said, sinking down onto the couch. “I hadn’t realized I was doing that.”

“It is our default to blame the victim. She was alone, she had been drinking, she was wearing provocative clothes, she should have said no, she could have fought harder…” After ticking off the statements on her fingers, Miranda made a tossing gesture with her hands. “Why do you think so many maintain relationships with these men after the harassment?”

“I have no idea.”

“It is one way to rewrite the narrative. If they can make something of it consensual, then maybe it wasn’t so bad. Maybe you can get something out of it.”

“Gross.”

“Worse is that most victims continue think it was their fault.”

“How so?”

Miranda started putting the items from the display case into a bag. “If they were too friendly, maybe he got the wrong idea. If they had been affectionate, they had been asking for it. If they allowed one thing to happen, then the rest was their fault, too. Maybe you were too ambitious and he could see you wanted it.”

Andy lifted her head and stared when Miranda changed to second person point of view again. “You?”

“Hmmm?”

“You said you. Twice.”

There was silence before Miranda turned to look at her. “Yes, me.”

“You’ve never said before.”

“It was early in my career, when I was still young and vulnerable.”

“Really? You?”

“Everyone is young once. Not everyone has to pay for it, though.”

“If it’s a bad memory, you don’t have to tell me. It may help to talk about, though.”

“I’ve talked about it before but, clearly not enough.” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “Not enough if this whole Weinstein issue can rattle me so.”

“I don’t remember but you didn’t seem so angry when Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly scandals imploded.”

“Maybe because I never expected better from men who created and made careers in a system built on harassment, belittling and bullying. FOX was a known entity. There might even a part of me that thought maybe all those women deserve what they got.”

“Nobody deserves it.”

Miranda rolled her eyes. “I know that. And I know that I’m more disappointed than angry. Don’t get me wrong, I’m furious at Harvey and all the pain he has caused. But, Donna, she was…” Miranda flung out her arms. “Do you know she was championing a woman president back in 1992? Her advertising campaign was called ‘In Women We Trust’ and had a model wearing one of her double-breasted blazers being sworn in as president.” She sighed. “It was transcendent.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“She designed for real women’s bodies and made even those who weren’t five foot, ten inches and skinny feel beautiful. It was powerful. And, it didn’t end there. After she left her label, she started a foundation which empowers and educates children in Haiti.” Miranda shook her head.

“That’s bizarre,” Andy said. “How could she do one thing and say the other?”

“Her interview knocked me back. I felt like she pulled the rug from under my feet. And it makes me question if anything I believed about her was ever true.”

“That sucks.” Andy stepped up to Miranda and touched her shoulder. “Could you tell me more?”

“Mmm. I think part of it is that it makes me feel lot like I did after my harassment. He was a mentor. A man I looked to for advice.” She reached up and squeezed Andy’s hand. “I thought my boss was invested in my career and instead he was targeting me for my body.”

“What happened?”

“I met with him after work. I brought out my portfolio and he brought out his penis.”

“Ew! Why do men think that’s what women want?”

“He didn’t care about what I wanted.” Her lip curled in a snarl. “He wanted his dick sucked and didn’t care what it took from me to get it.”

“What do the men get out of that? Surely there are plenty of women who would willingly have sex with them?”

“It is about power, not sex.” Miranda brushed off her hands. “They are predators who prey on women they can penalize if they say no and implicate if they give in.”

“Thinking about it makes me feel so helpless. I hate it,” Andy said.

“Unfortunately, far too many men are erotically excited by their ability to punish, humiliate and inflict pain on women. Their…” Miranda looked down. “I mean, our fear turns them on.”

Andy reached out and took hold of her hand. “I’m sorry. I know this must bring up bad things for you.”

“Sometimes it seems you can’t be a women in business without having to endure it. I was lucky to have other women and an HR department to support me when I was harassed.” She bit her lip. “I wasn’t demoted but it did slow my trajectory for a bit. I’m afraid it only stayed quiet because my boss had already been looking for work elsewhere.”

“They allowed him to leave?”

“With my blessing at the time. I wanted it over so I could move on.”

“But when they let them get away with it, the same thing could happen to someone else. How do you know he didn’t do it to someone else at the next job?” Andy asked.

“Sweetheart, sometimes there are no good options. Stay silent and you’re complicit. Tell a friend and nothing gets done. Go to someone in authority and you’ll face unfair consequences – men will be uncomfortable around you, thinking you’ll accuse them next; women won’t be any better, thinking that they’ll be tarnished by standing by you.” Miranda tossed her head. “I learned who my friends are.”

“I’m sorry you had to learn that way.” Andy stomped her feet, “Why can’t we support one another?”

“Because it is still a man’s world. They are in positions of power. They are the ones making the decisions and they’re the ones who refuse to believe us.”

“That’s terrible.”

“While not being believed is bad, the potential for retribution is worse.” Miranda glowered, “And, there will always be retribution, the power dynamics make it inevitable.”

“But you’re a success.”

“I am now. But I remember how my personnel evaluations, which had called me assertive, now warned that I was being aggressive. My decisions were questioned in a way they hadn’t been before and a promotion I had been expecting never materialized. They said it was because of restructuring after he left but it forced me to take a lateral move to a different office before I was able to really start moving forward again.”

“I’m glad they didn’t make you quit.”

“What choice did I have?” Her hands were shaking slightly as she transferred pieces from the display case to the rack. “I didn’t have any money outside of my paycheck and this was my career.”

“You’re a fighter.”

“Yes, but the cost was high. My long term relationship ended as I didn’t feel sexual any more and he was upset I was lumping him together with my harasser.”

“I’m sorry he wasn’t more sympathetic.”

“Me, too. But it was for the best. I wasn’t in a good place.”

“Of course, you weren’t. What happened was horrible.”

“And it wasn’t so much the trauma as the gas lighting.”

“What do you mean?”

“It seemed like everyone around me made me question myself. The male coworkers who told me it was good to be hit on, that I should take it as a compliment to have men want me. Female coworkers who told me it wasn’t so bad, that what they survived was worse and, if they could move on, so should I. I even had someone from human resources tell me he didn’t do or say or mean what we all damn well know he did.”

“Like mansplaining on steroids.”

“Indeed.”

“What can be done?”

“What makes you think anything can be done?” Miranda picked up the dress fabric from the floor and gently hung it on a hanger before setting it beside the others on the rack. “Think back on all the other times we’ve seen a mass of women finally come forth with their stories and what is the result? A hung jury or a mistrial, or even a quiet settlement is the norm. Most often, though, there is a new TV program or movie or a contract for a new sports team.” She brushed her hair from her eyes and glared. “Sometimes they get to take the oath of office as President of the United States of America.” She took a deep breath. “Three women made allegations about Bill Clinton. Ten women accused Roger Ailes. Trump has had fifteen women plus an ex-wife. Twenty-nine women have already come forward about Harvey. Fifty came forth about Bill Cosby. How many will be enough to effect change?”

“We can’t just give up all hope.” Andy scowled at Miranda’s smirk. “I know you think I’m a naïve mid-westerner but can’t we do something?”

“I’m not sure it can be solved with any single thing. It is all tied up in how we raise boys into men and the expectations they have about the women in their lives being available for their sexual pleasure.”

“You’re talking about rape culture.”

“Exactly. When sexual harassment and abuse is ignored, trivialized and normalized, even talking about assault becomes impossible.”

“I want to find a way to do more than just talk.”

“That would involve getting more men to discourage each other from harming women or thinking that dominating women enhances their status.”

Andy recited, ““In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.””

“Dr. Martin Luther King was so very right.” Miranda locked the now empty case. “But the fear about retaliation isn’t just a womans fear. Men face it, too, when they come forward. If they aren’t complicit, they know they will be mocked by their peers, even ostracized.”

“They are victims of toxic masculinity, too.”

“And their privilege will not protect them.” Miranda shrugged. “Maybe I’m being too harsh. Perhaps the young men of today will learn from the public falls of guys like Harvey Weinstein.”

“But those are the same young men who made Trump president, even after he bragged about grabbing her by the pussy.”

“True.” Miranda rolled the cart out of the room and reset the keypad after Andy closed the door behind her. “I’m afraid this administration has given many angry men carte blanche to abuse women.”

“But what about the resistance movement? Aren’t there women being empowered to speak up and demand justice?”

“Possibly in the same way the feminists of the 1970’s did so.” She nodded. “And they did get laws written to protect women. Corporate culture has changed. Maybe now we can go further.”

Andy grabbed her yoga pants and a sweatshirt and started to change. Her voice came out muffled as she pulled off her shirt. “If only there was a way to change their desire to do these things.”

“That’s easier said than done. Desire is such an amorphous thing,” Miranda drawled, her eyes on her younger lover.

Blushing, Andy fought to keep from turning away from Miranda’s knowing gaze. “So what do you suggest?”

“Honestly? I don’t care to change what’s in their hearts. I’m good with them being afraid of the consequences once they get caught.”

“I wish I could fix it, though. For you and all the others.”

Miranda said, “You can’t fix everything, darling.” At Andy’s mulish look, she added. “But that doesn’t mean you can’t fix some things.”

Pointing at the things Miranda had taken from the closet, Andy asked, “What about this stuff? What are you fixing with these?”

“I’m going to donate my Donna Karan collection to Bottomless Closet. They can auction the items to fund their work. They won’t get as much as they would have before she damaged her brand with her remarks but anything helps.”

Smiling brilliantly, Andy said, “You know, Miranda, I think the real champion of stylish working women is you.”

“Honestly, Andrea,” she said as her cheeks pinked. Straightening her back, she asked, “I’m starving. Are we ever having dinner?”

“Yeah, the risotto is baking and the steak is ready to go.” Andy ignored the look from Miranda as she slid her feet into a pair of cerulean Crocs. “You promised not to mock my style choices.”

Arching her eyebrow, Miranda sniffed then asked, “Did I say anything?”

“No but you were thinking awfully loud.”

“God forbid someone in this relationship think.”

Putting her fists on her hips, Andy glared.

Miranda shook her head. “Forgive me, darling. Reflex.”

“I know it has been difficult,” Andy replied. “I do appreciate the effort it must take to bite your tongue sometimes.”

“Sometimes? Only sometimes?”

Andy rolled her eyes. “I’ve gotten better.”

“And we know how high that bar was to begin with.” She leaned over and kissed Andy before she could do more than squawk.

As the kiss deepened, Andy could feel her mood shifting. Her hands moved from her hips to holding Miranda’s, tugging her even closer. Andy moaned and then groaned as her empty stomach grumbled.

Miranda pulled away and used her thumb to wipe away a smudge of her lipstick from Andy’s lips. “Why are you moving at such a glacial pace instead of feeding me?”

“Because I know how much it thrills you.” Andy laughed and stole another kiss before leading the way back downstairs.

They might not have solved the world’s problems but, when they came together, they showed that change was possible. And they proved, in many ways, that change could also be quite pleasurable.

The End.

**

If you enjoyed reading that, check out some of my other femslash fanfic: https://archiveofourown.org/users/marygriggs/works

Or, check out some of my published work: https://www.bellabooks.com/Bella-Author-Mary-Griggs-cat.html

Coming Out As An Ally

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haring coming out day

It’s #NationalComingOutDay, and I’ve got a way everyone can participate.

I want you to put yourself in the closet for a day.

See how long you can go today without making any statements about your spouse/partner/significant other or revealing your gender identity.

Take a trip down memory lane for any work trips, out of town conferences or vacations you may have taken. Do a little research to find out when those places decriminalized homosexuality. And, in the places where being gay, lesbian or bisexual isn’t criminal, see if there are any protections against discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on sexual orientation.

Think back on your significant rites of passage: first day of school, first kiss, senior prom, first job, getting engaged, marriage, paying taxes, etc. Ask yourself how each situation would have been different if you had been having to hide who you love or where you fall on the gender/sexuality spectrum from your family, your friends, your peers or your boss.

Some languages, such as English, do not have a gender neutral or third gender pronoun available pronouns. For today drop pronouns for yourself and for your romantic partner. When you pass people in the hallway or the street, don’t automatically default to using gender cues to categorize them as male/female. Think before filling out forms which require you to select a gender.

Tonight, when reading bedtime stories to your kids, avoid anything like classic fairy tales (Cinderella, Snow White, etc) with their heavy male and female stereotypes or romanticized storylines about heterosexual love. Do you have any books you can read with gender non-conforming heroes or of children adopted by same-sex couples?

When watching TV or reading a magazine, consider how many times a day you are presented with images of men and women together in relationships of sex and love. When out driving or exercising today, think about the words before singing along with the songs on the radio or your iPod.

Before reaching for your partner’s hand when out in public, look around. See if it is safe to do so, wonder if the people around you may be harboring violent thoughts about people like you who are “flaunting” your sexuality in their face.

This is a day when many people (not just trolls on Twitter) will make jokes about how National Coming Out Day is “so gay!”  Reflect on the courage it requires to move from being a passive bystander to taking an active role in addressing name-calling and disrespectful humor.

Few people who take this challenge can last more than an hour or two without slipping up and mentioning their significant other or making a comment that outs them as straight or cisgender.

If you did try, I hope you gained a better understanding about how much work and emotional effort it takes for someone to be closeted. I especially hope you have more empathy (or even sympathy) for those who have to stay closeted for their own safety or security.

Ally is a verb, not a noun. It is a call to action.

Maybe now you can answer the call.

Politics Are Deeply, Deeply Personal

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The personal has always been political and, these days, the political is getting deeply, deeply personal. I don’t know about you but I’m reeling from the recent series of Trump administration decisions that effectively deny LGBTQ people full citizenship.

Here are some of the lowlights:

  • the Department of Justice filed an amicus brief before the US Court of Appeals arguing that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission erred in deciding that the Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination protects gay and lesbian employees,
  • the US voted against a United Nations resolution that condemned the death penalty as punishment for consensual same-sex relationships,
  • the Justice department announcement that walks back Obama era discrimination protections for transgender workers under Title IX of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and
  • the Justice Department issued a Religious Freedom memo with 20 ‘principles’ that are a rehashing of the worst talking points for a religious right to discriminate.

These are significant blows to hard-won gains of the past several years. I’m not sure how many more setbacks to equality and humanity we are going to see but, when you consider we haven’t even had one full year of the Trump presidency, it ain’t looking good.

And, of course, all of this is on top of the shooting in Vegas, on top of watching our President tossing paper towels to Puerto Ricans who are without clean water or power, on top of more Congressional attacks on the healthcare system (including allowing the CHIP to expire), etc, etc, etc.

Living in Trump’s America is a stark reminder that nothing should be taken for granted — we are seeing first hand that it only takes one bad election to regress on LGBTQ rights.

Which makes it even important to ensure that we vote each and every time we get the chance. Voting is how we have our voices heard and get leaders who will represent our best interests. Elections matter. Voting matters. As the project Let America Vote states, “You can’t win the political argument if you’re not part of the conversation.”

This is especially true for local elections. Local government affects almost every aspect of our daily lives – school and library quality, policing and public safety, trash and recycling, sewers and drainage, public transportation and street maintenance, and many other quality of life issues.

By voting in local elections (and holding our elected officials accountable), we can create the change we want to see. And every single vote makes a difference! Typically just 1 in 5 voters participate in non-presidential elections. That means that those who do vote have an outsize influence in the result.

Now, I understand that finding information on local races can be difficult – there isn’t near the coverage as there is during presidential elections. It can be hard to find out when to vote and/or what is on the ballot. One place to look is Rock the Vote, which has state by state info on upcoming elections.

To help those in Louisiana, I’m posting endorsements from two organizations I work closely with here in New Orleans.

Independent Women’s Organization Endorsements

Forum for Equality PAC’s Endorsements

Additionally, here is the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana’s guide to the constitutional amendments on the ballot

So, please geaux vote!

Taking a Knee

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Sunday’s football games were eagerly anticipated by just as many people who don’t give a rat’s ass for the sport as by those who were fanatics. All across the nation (and especially in the White House), people’s heads were exploding over what football players were doing (or not doing) during the national anthem. These are the same folks, mind you, who just a few short months ago were going completely insane over the removal of monuments dedicated to people who fought a war to destroy our country.

Let me begin by making one thing clear: I am an army brat. I am from a family with a long and proud history of service in the military. I was raised on bases where everything, including traffic, stopped each night when the flag came down. I was taught respect for our nation’s flag and the proper etiquette on handling it – and that includes not wearing the flag as clothing or using it in advertising.

The national anthem has its own protocol , which I was taught to follow. We were to stand, put our hand over our heart and face the flag. Every movie I watched as a kid on base started with the national anthem and we all stood in silence. I’ve watched grown men cry to hear it and I’ve gotten pretty angry at people I saw laughing and talking during the playing of it.

But #TakeAKnee is not and never has been about the anthem or the flag. It is about the unjust treatment of minorities in a nation that claims to be equal and tolerant. It is about protesting systemic racism and the extrajudicial killings of black people by police.

Our political leaders and the media were full-throated in denouncing the riots that followed the funerals of African-American men killed by police and the violent clashes after the acquittals of those police officers. Those protests were decried as uncivil and counter productive. Of course, the media ignored that many of the people who took to the streets had been peacefully advocating for better treatment for YEARS, without ever changing the inequitable conditions they experienced as Africans-Americans.

Now come sports figures, including at least 100 football players, who use the stage they’ve been given as professional athletes to protest against suffering and oppression by taking a knee or sitting during the national anthem. Because their act of free speech doesn’t match the mainstream American understanding of civil disobedience, this too has been censured and discredited by many, including the current occupant of the White House.

I may not know much but I do know that every time those in power refuse to acknowledge the grievances of the oppressed because those grievances are not framed in a manner considered ‘civil,’ what really happens is that we avoid addressing the oppression.

Diverse expressions of dissent are required to generate meaningful change. A full range of constructive political tactics has always been deployed to liberate us from our oppression. We just can’t fight white supremacy, misogyny, heteropatriarchy and state-sponsored terror without offending/inconveniencing somebody.

Instead of getting caught up in a perception of disrespect or a sense of discomfort, please listen to what these protesters are trying to draw our attention to – that the police are regularly killing unarmed people. Disquiet at the method of protest is not as pressing as the need to address the reality of police brutality and racial bias.

Because if we learned nothing else from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, we learned that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

And sometimes those demands come on bended knee.

Watching Harvey on Katrina’s Anniversary

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It is the 12th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina today. Many communities, including New Orleans, continue to struggle in the aftermath. Recovery is no easy road, especially when the ground beneath the road is washed away.

What Texas and Houston are going through now with Harvey is an order of magnitude above that devastation. Some places are seeing up to 50 inches of rainfall which has caused catastrophic flooding. My heart hurts as I watch them facing so much more water and my whole body aches to know how much work is ahead of them.

One of the things we saw after Katrina was the generosity of the American people. You gave your time and money to help so many get back on their feet. Texas needs us now to do what we can – people are amazingly resilient but they need more than just thoughts and prayers. Here is a link to an article that has a number of relief organizations which are boots on the ground in the areas hit.

It is not enough to not be a raging racist asshole

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The disgusting outpouring of racist fury at the University of Virginia over the weekend is the culmination of our indulging in 160 years of Confederate nostalgia. I’m a southerner and I’ve participated in it firsthand but it is time to face facts – those who created the Confederate power structure and waged war against the United States of America were traitors.

Surviving white separatists and their fellow travelers didn’t take losing the Civil War lying down. They have gone on to scream and rail against every advancement of the American dream to people of color by any means necessary. They are domestic terrorists who bomb churches, shoot up nightclubs and plow vehicles into crowds of their opponents.

It is a false narative that supporters of statues honoring figures of the Confederacy simply want to see history represented fairly and truthfully. No one forgets history simply because there isn’t a statue of it. Also, keep in mind, most of the statues were installed following two waves of reactionary racism – the first at the end of Reconstruction and the rest when the fight to end desegregation began. Furthermore, if merely remembering the past was their goal, they sure as shit wouldn’t be celebrating Nazism.

Glorifying hatred, bigotry, and racism is wrong. It must be resisted and rejected at every turn.

uva charlotsville pic

In the already infamous photo of torch-carrying white racists surrounding a statue of Thomas Jefferson, we see buried in the image 3 brave UVA students, terrified, but holding strong behind a hand-painted sign reading “UVA Students Against White Supremacy”, backs up against the statue, surrounded by white thugs. Let them be our guides. – Sarah Schulman

This is not a matter on which reasonable people can disagree. Those we saw carrying Tiki torches in Charlottesville are despicable human beings who espouse an indefensible belief in racial and cultural superiority.

Racism must be combatted everyday by every one of us. White people cannot stand on the sideline, saying and doing nothing. Please – this is the moment where our silence puts us on the side of hate. This is the time when we have to decide which side we stand on and whether we are going to take this nation forward or backward.

Let us prove that this is not who we are as Americans.

I stand against racism. I stand against hate. I stand against bigotry.

I stand for equality. I stand for racial justice.

I stand because #BlackLivesMatter.

 

2017 Goldie Awards

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It was a wonderful evening for the Thirteenth Annual Golden Crown Literary Society Literary Awards. Thanks so much to the GCLS board and awards team for putting together another great conference and Goldie Awards.

Debut Author – Finalists

Title Author Publisher
A Quantum Convergence (Nexus Trilogy – Book 1) C.A. Farlow Desert Palm Press
Four Steps Wendy Hudson Ylva Publishing
Love On The Red Rocks Lisa Moreau Bold Strokes Books
Miss Match Fiona Riley Bold Strokes Books
One in the Hand Caitlin Drake Bella Books
Salvation on Mission Street Cathy Arellano Korima Press
The Big Sugarbush: Lesbian Romantic Comedy Ana B Good Hot Pants Press, LLC
The Urn Carrier Chris Convissor Bedazzled Ink Publishing, LLC

Winners – Wendy Hudson, Lisa Moreau, Cathy Arellano

Creative Non-Fiction – Finalists

Title Author Publisher
Indomitable: The Life of Barbara Grier Joanne Passet Bella Books
Out – A Courageous Woman’s Journey Lou Anne Smoot Sapphire Books Publishing
Sexy Liberal! Of Me I Sing Stephanie Miller Gival Press

Winner – Indomitable: The Life of Barbara Grier by Joanne Passet

Anthology/Collections (Creative Non-Fiction) – Finalists

Title Author Publisher
Active Voice The Comic Collection: The Real Life Adventures Of An Asian-American, Lesbian, Feminist, Activist And Her Friends! Written by P. Kristen Enos with Heidi Ho; Illustrated by Derek Chua, Leesamarie Croal, Casandra Grullon, Beth Varni and Dan Parent Furia Press
Lesbian Decadence: Representations in Art and Literature of Fin-de-Siècle France Nicole G. Albert Harrington Park Press

Winner – Lesbian Decadence by Nicole G. Albert

Romantic Suspense/Intrigue/Adventure – Finalists

Title Author Publisher
A Woman of Strong Purpose S. M. Harding Bella Books
Deception VK Powell Bold Strokes Books
Final Cut Lynn Ames Phoenix Rising Press
Starstruck Lesley Davis Bold Strokes Books
Swelter D. Jackson Leigh Bold Strokes Books
The Copper Egg Catherine Friend Bold Strokes Books
The Fifth Gospel Michelle Grubb Bold Strokes Books
Without Justice Carsen Taite Bold Strokes Books

Winners – Catherine Friend, Michelle Grubb, Lynn Ames

Poetry – Finalists

Title Author Publisher
Acquired Community Jane Byers Dagger Editions
In and Out of Love Shelley Thrasher Sapphire Books Publishing
Night Ringing Laura Foley Headmistress Press
Showtime at the Ministry of Lost Causes Cheryl Dumesnil University of Pittsburgh Press
SPLIT Denise Benavides Korima Press
The Body’s Alphabet Ann Tweedy Headmistress Press
The Off-Season Jen Levitt Four Way Books
Torn from the Ear of Night Jimmie Margaret Gilliam White Pine Press

Winners – Jane Byers, Jimmie Margaret Gilliam and Shelley Thrasher

Mystery/Thriller – Finalists

Title Author Publisher
Blood Money Murder Jessie Chandler Bella Books
Collide-O-Scope Andrea Bramhall Ylva Publishing
Going Coastal Jane DiLucchio Regal Crest Enterprises
If Looks Could Kill Andi Marquette Ylva Publishing
Requiem for Immortals Lee Winter Ylva Publishing
The Secret Unknown Dillon Watson Bella Books
Trigger Jessica L. Webb Bold Strokes Books
Walk-in T.L. Hart Bella Books

Winners – Jessica L Webb, Lee Winter, TL Hart

Young Adult – Finalists

Title Author Publisher
Blind Side of the Moon Blayne Cooper Bella Books
Gravity Juliann Rich Bold Strokes Books
Here’s the Thing Emily O’Beirne Ylva Publishing
My Year Zero Rachel Gold Bella Books
Shieldmaiden Book 1: Quest for the Jewel GL Roberts Bella Books
The Portal: The Chronicles of Caymin Caren J. Werlinger Corgyn Publishing, LLC
The Songbird Thief Skye Allen Harmony Ink Press
When Butches Cry Genta Sebastian Sapphire Books Publishing

Winners – Rachel Gold, Emily O’Beirne, Juliann Rich

Paranormal/Horror – Finalists

Title Author Publisher
1140 Rue Royale Karen D. Badger Badger Bliss Books
By the Dark of Her Eyes Cameron MacElvee Bold Strokes Books
Demons Shemons K.B. Draper K.B. Draper, LLC.
Driving Me Mad L.T. Smith Ylva Publishing
Heart Of The Pack Jenny Frame Bold Strokes Books
Meeting Ms. Roman Karen F. Williams Bella Books
The House at the End of the Street Stephanie E. Kusiak Sapphire Books Publishing
Twisted Screams Sheri Lewis Wohl Bold Strokes Books

Winners – Karen D. Badger, Cameron McElvee, Stephanie E. Kusiak

Erotica – Finalists

Title Author Publisher
A Touch of Temptation Julie Blair Bold Strokes Books
Best Lesbian Erotica 20th Anniversary Edition Sacchi Green Cleis Press
Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 D. L. King Cleis Press
Girls on Campus Sandy Lowe and Stacia Seaman (eds) Bold Strokes Books
Give Me Thorns, A Lesbian BDSM Romance Elizabeth Andre Tulabella Ruby Press
Heat Rachel Windsor Sapphire Books Publishing
Nights of Silk and Sapphire Amber Jacobs Ylva Publishing
The Club A.L. Brooks Ylva Publishing

Winners – DL King, Elizabeth Andre, AL Brooks

Dramatic/General Fiction – Finalists (9 finalists due to tie.)

Title Author Publisher
Along Came the Rain Alison R. Solomon Sapphire Books Publishing
Beyond the Silence Aya Walksfar Wild Haven Press
Heartwood Catherine Lane Ylva Publishing
It Pours C.D. Cain Bedazzled Ink Publishing, LLC
Life in Death M. Ullrich Bold Strokes Books
Rainbow Gap Lee Lynch Bold Strokes Books
The Big Sugarbush: Lesbian Romantic Comedy Ana B Good Hot Pants Press, LLC
The Urn Carrier Chris Convissor Bedazzled Ink Publishing, LLC
Trial by Fury KG MacGregor Bella Books

Winners – Ana B. Good, Chris Convissor, KG MacGregor

Anthology/Collections (Fiction) – Finalists

Title Author Publisher
Finding Ms. Write Jae & Jove Belle Ylva Publishing
Girls With Guns Michelle Grubb, Carsen Taite, Ali Vali Bold Strokes Books
Happily Ever After Various Bella Authors Bella Books
It’s Only Love: A Short Story Collection Diane Marina Aspen Palms Press
Lez Talk: A Collection of Black Lesbian Short Fiction S. Andrea Allen and Lauren Cherelle (eds) BLF Press, LLC
Tales from Sea Glass Inn Karis Walsh Bold Strokes Books
The One – Stories of Falling in Love Forever Elizabeth M. Hodge (ed.) Sapphire Books Publishing
Women of the Year Karen Richard Bedazzled Ink Publishing, LLC

Winners – Jae and Jove Belle (eds), Karis Walsh, Karen Richard

Historical Fiction – Finalists

Title Author Publisher
Alaskan Bride D Jordan Redhawk Bella Books
Alice & Jean Lily Hammond Sapphica Books
Dian’s Ghost Justine Saracen Bold Strokes Books
Loving Eleanor Susan Wittig Albert Persevero Press
Shaken to the Core Jae Ylva Publishing
Summer of Love Susan X Meagher Brisk Press
The Liberators of Willow Run Marianne K. Martin Bywater Books
Whiskey Sunrise Missouri Vaun Bold Strokes Books

Winners – Justine Saracen, Susan Wittig Albert, Jae

Traditional Contemporary Romance – Finalists

Title Author Publisher
By Mutual Consent Tracey Richardson Bella Books
Chef’s Special Susan X Meagher Brisk Press
Courageous Love KC Richardson Bold Strokes Books
Dare to Stay Georgia Beers Brisk Press
Embracing the Dawn Jeannie Levig Bold Strokes Books
Lights of the Heart Nat Burns Bella Books
Perfect Pairing Rachel Spangler Bywater Books
The Color of Love Radclyffe Bold Strokes Books

Winners – Susan X Meagher, Rachel Spangler, Radclyffe

Science Fiction/Fantasy – Finalists

Title Author Publisher
Catalyst Fletcher DeLancey Ylva Publishing
Dragon Horse War: Tracker and the Spy D. Jackson Leigh Bold Strokes Books
Hekolatis’ Promise T.J. Mindancer Bedazzled Ink Publishing, LLC
Paradox Valley Gerri Hill Bella Books
Tengoku Rae D. Magdon Desert Palm Press
The Beast That Never Was Caren J. Werlinger Corgyn Publishing, LLC
The Broken Coil (The Glass Pantheon – Book 1) Sy Itha Desert Palm Press
The Flaw in Logic S.Y. Thompson Sapphire Books Publishing

Winner – Caren J. Werlinger, Sy Itha, Gerri Hill

Ann Bannon Popular Choice – Finalists

Title Author Publisher
Captain of Industry Karin Kallmaker Bella Books
Final Cut Lynn Ames Phoenix Rising Press
First Position Melissa Brayden Bold Strokes Books
Perfect Pairing Rachel Spangler Bywater Books
Poppy Jenkins Clare Ashton Breezy Tree Press
Rainbow Gap Lee Lynch Bold Strokes Books
The Liberators of Willow Run Marianne K. Martin Bywater Books
Trial by Fury KG MacGregor Bella Books

Winner Lee Lynch for Rainbow Gap

Tee Corinne Outstanding Cover Design

Title Artist Publisher
After a Time LS Designs Bedazzled Ink Publishing
Alias Mrs. Jones Ann McMan, Acorn Graphics Regal Crest Enterprises
Bitter Root Melody Pond Bold Strokes Books
Final Cut Ann McMan, TreeHouse Studio Phoenix Rising Press
Heartscapes Sheri Bold Strokes Books
Perfect Pairing Ann McMan, TreeHouse Studio Bywater Books
Poppy Jenkins Jayne Fereday Breezy Tree Press
The Liberators of Willow Run Ann McMan, TreeHouse Studio Bywater Books

 

Directors’ Award – Ann McMan

Lee Lynch Classic Award Presented to Lesléa Newman, Heather Has Two Mommies

Trailblazer Award Presented to Lillian Faderman

In Memory of Our Lost Sisters – Polly Taylor, Karen Davidson Boatman, Marie J Kuda, Ruth Mountaingrove, Ana Iza Otis

 

 

 

 

 

2017 GCLS Literary Conference in Chicago!

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This year’s Golden Crown Literary Society‘s Annual Conference will be in Chicago from July 5th to July 9th. I love the GCLS – the members are like my family – quirky but lovable. Going to the conference is like going to a family reunion with the added joy of discovering new family members every year.

There is so much to see and do that I bet your bottom dollar you’ll lose the blues in Chicago!*

I will be moderating The Magic Elixir for Creating Unique Characters I on Thursday at 10am with the wonderful authors Nat BurnsCL CattanoLori L. LakeAurora Rey and Laina Villeneuve. We will be talking about ways to create characters that last generations. Join us for a lively discussion about strategies for making characters unique, memorable and non-traditional.

I will be reading from my novel, Bitter Heart, at the Author Spotlight on Friday at 2:20pm. Some of the other authors at that spotlight are Marie CastleRoselle GraskeyKaren RichardLiz McMullenBarbara DennisIsabella and Lila Bruce. It will be moderated by the very talented Cindy Rizzo.

Here is the video trailer for my book:

A little later on Friday (at 5:30pm) you can find me and all the other attending authors for an autograph session.

Check out the full schedule HERE. There are so many great classes, workshops and fun things to do that I can hardly wait to get there.

Looking forward to a wonderful, windy time!*

Lyrics from *Chicago by Judy Garland

Taking a Walk In Someone Else’s Shoes

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So I was called ISIS on Twitter (this is the same person who retweeted David Duke, so I’m taking it with a grain of salt). I really don’t think the name calling means what the poster thinks it means as I have never advocated blowing up the monuments or murdering those who don’t share my beliefs.

However, such overly dramatic emotionalism of the defenders of the Confederacy has a long history. In Jefferson Davis’ own words:

Our cause was so just, so sacred, that had I known all that has come to pass, had I known what was to be inflicted upon me, all that my country was to suffer, all that our posterity was to endure, I would do it all over again.

And the fighting goes on: the Louisiana Lieutenant Governor beseeching the President to declare the statues federal monuments and the Louisiana House of Representatives passing a bill to prohibit the removal of such statues unless approved by public vote.

In addition, there are self described nationalists, hardcore patriots, alt-right activists, white power advocates and Confederate apologists descending on the city from across the nation. With AK-47’s in their arms and pistols on their hips, they’ve declared a new Battle for New Orleans and plan to defend the monuments, even unto death.

Removal, mind you, that was proposed in 2015 by the duly elected mayor, passed by a majority vote of the elected city council and, after it was contested legally by white supremacists, the removal was affirmed by a judge in federal court.

Despite the hyperbole, nothing is being destroyed or erased. In fact, our understanding of that entire time period may be enhanced with the inclusion of more context in a museum setting. It is certainly time students learned more than the myths. And that we all truly understood more about the costs.

Almost every African American you’ve ever met had ancestors who were brought to this country in shackles. They were kept uneducated by law and counted as less than a person by our Constitution. Women of color were raped with impunity and forced to breed. Their children were auctioned as property with no regard to family bonds or parental rights. They could be forced to work for more than twelve hours a day in the fields when the harvest was due. They could be starved, beaten and killed by their owners. Families were torn apart and, if you don’t think that hurt, then read some of the heartbreaking information wanted ads from after the war and emancipation.

African Americans have clearly said that it hurts when we celebrate slave owners and leaders of the lost cause. Can any need for historical validation excuse our doing that which causes others pain? Especially when the history is of a system that was cruel to poor whites and brutal to people of color?

Remember, too, that these monuments are at major intersections in the city, which thousands pass daily. Can you understand the revulsion of having your tax dollars used to maintain and preserve statues honoring those who bought and sold your ancestors and fought to ensure the practice continued?

As Representative John Bagneris said during the House floor debate, “It hurts to know you don’t feel the pain I feel.”

And that is the crux of this. We white people haven’t been willing to feel the pain of our brothers and sisters.

People of color have to deal with racism every day, in so many micro aggressions as well as institutionalized in the systems they access daily. Why do we then insist on keeping public monuments that glorify white supremacy they have to see every day?

Put yourself in their place for just a moment. Being empathetic isn’t easy but is something we must do if we are ever to find common ground.

There is a way to be proud of being Southern without just focusing on the Confederacy. We have so many leaders and legends who come from our states. Our regional music and literature is enjoyed the world over. We have food to make angels weep and weather to soothe body and soul. Can we take pride in what we have to live for, instead of what far too many died for?

Please, don’t let the removal of these monuments destroy our relationships with our fellow Louisianians. We’re the only ones who get us. We’re the only ones we have.

The Louisiana Senate next takes up HB 71. Please contact your elected representative to stop this bad bill.

Fold It Up And Put It Away

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David Cox, the rector of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Church in Lexington, Virginia, wrote a column about Lee and reconciliation in 2014. In it, he recounted a story about a woman asking him what to do with an old Confederate battle flag. Lee responded by saying, “Fold it up and put it away.”

Statues, monuments and/or naming streets or parks for someone is a way to honor them as well as to glorify their time period. By the same token, we also have a right to change the values expressed in our public spaces by our forebearers. History is replete with names changed to reflect changing times – in 2001, the New Orleans International Airport was renamed the Louis Armstrong Airport. This is after it was originally named for aviator John Bevins Moisant and the Moisant Stock Yards it was built upon (hence the MSY aircode designation).

The first monument to come down is the one memorializing the Battle of Liberty Place. It was erected in 1891 to commemorate the Crescent City White League attempt to overthrow the city’s Reconstructionist government after the Civil War.

The inscription on the Liberty Place monument when it was erected.

Such a monument is an affront in our minority-majority city. As we approach the anniversary of the city’s surrender to the Union (April 29, 1862), the fully half of the citizenry who find the statues offensive have the right and the duty to remake New Orleans in a way which is uplifting and inclusive instead of reactionary and divisive.

Do we really need such painful public reminders that a war was fought to keep the ancestors of our African American brothers and sisters enslaved? No! It is past time to honor other people and ideals.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said:

Relocating these Confederate monuments is not about taking something away from someone else. This is not about politics, blame or retaliation. This is not a naïve quest to solve all our problems at once. This is about showing the whole world that we as a city and as a people are able to acknowledge, understand, reconcile — and most importantly– choose a better future. We can remember these divisive chapters in our history in a museum or other facility where they can be put in context – and that’s where these statues belong.

Exactly – the emblems of the Old South including Confederate flags, would be better displayed in Civil War parks or cemeteries where people who want to see them can do so.

Another of the statues to come down is that of Robert E. Lee, who never even visited New Orleans. His Confederate-uniformed image glaring northward in what once was Tivoli Circle is not a that of the principled, honorable man who worked to reconcile the nation and later became a university president. It is of a soldier who commanded the losing side during a war in which nearly 2% of the population, an estimated 620,000 men, lost their lives in the line of duty. Hundreds of thousands more died of disease and this doesn’t even begin to discuss the civilian impact. Read this letter if you want to know which side his descendants come down on – A Letter from Robert E. Lee IV Regarding the Lee Chapel Flags.

I am all for remembering history because those who don’t are condemned to repeat it. But it needs to be actual history we remember, not the alternative one that is so often mythologized by apologists for the Confederacy.

It’s 2017. It is past time to take them down and put them away.

These Are the Bathroom Wars We Have Fought Before

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The Trump administration has rescinded the Obama administration guidance that transgender students are federally protected from sex discrimination under Title IX and will no longer require schools to allow transgender students to use the restroom that aligns with their gender identity.

never-about-bathroomsBut it isn’t really about bathrooms. It wasn’t about bathrooms in the past and it isn’t about them now. The issue has always been about who has access to the public sphere.

When someone has to worry about being able to relieve themself when out in public, it discourage them from participating fully in activities outside the home. Historically, public bathrooms were a weapon for in the battle for social control.

For generations of working women, a barrier to employment was that few, if any, workplaces had bathrooms they could use. In 1887, Massachusetts became the first state to pass a law requiring workplaces that employed women to have bathrooms for them. It took a while for guaranteed access to become the norm but by the 1920’s most states had passed similar laws. A scholarly article with a number of examples is Taunya Lovell Banks’ “Toilets as a Feminist Issue.”

In the 1940’s and 50’s, segregationists pulled out the bathroom card when fighting to preserve Jim Crow laws. Many African-American travelers found few places to relieve themselves along the interstates across the country as Whites Only signs blocked access to restrooms in gas stations, bus stations, etc. Political opponents of Brown vs Board of Education were very vociferous that interracial school bathrooms were a threat to the very fabric of society. For more information on this time period, read Phoebe Godfrey‘s “Bayonets, Brainwashing, and Bathrooms: The Discourse of Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Desegregation of Little Rock’s Central High.”

In the 1960’s, gays were the new bathroom threat. For example, the Florida Legislative Investigative Committee issued a report, Homosexuality and Citizenship in Florida, which warned of the menace of gay men in restroom stalls who “posed a threat to the health and moral well-being of a sizable portion of our population, particularly our youth.” I guess lesbians, being invisible, were able to do their business with no fuss.

During her fight throughout the 1970’s against the Equal Rights Amendment, Phyllis Schlafly described three “Horribles” that the ERA would impose on women, one of which was it would bring about public unisex bathrooms (As an aside, Ruth Bader Ginsberg wrote a great rebuttal in the ABA Journal in September 1973). But, it wasn’t only public safety that was a concern of the opponents of the ERA – they claimed national security would be affected and argued that military cohesion would fall apart if men and women had to share facilities. The Red Scare had nothing on their potty fears and while the ERA didn’t pass, we have advanced women’s rights despite their fear mongering.

The fight against Houston’s HERO and Charlotte’s Ordinance 7056 took things to a new low. The religious extremists reframed anti-discrimination ordinances and twisted them to make the issue no longer about equality but about permitting sexual predators to molest children in women’s bathrooms. North Carolina’s backwards looking legislators responded with the ugly HB2 which in turn caused such a furor among equality minded people that the NBA even pulled the All Star game out of the state and moved it to Louisiana, which had the recently elected governor signed an anti-discrimination Executive Order.

Such a sad, sorry history of bathrooms, isn’t it? It is amazing that such a humble room has been ground zero for those opposed to the advancement civil rights.

Today’s anti’s aren’t any more concerned about women and children being attacked in restrooms than their forefathers.

We know this because then they would have responded with the same fervor when information came out that then presidential candidate Donald Trump would go into the dressing rooms of Miss Teen USA, Miss USA and Miss Universe to “inspect” the participants (Rolling Stone did a timeline on his creepiness). He boasted about it in a 2005 interview with Howard Stern.

Well, I’ll tell you the funniest is that before a show, I’ll go backstage and everyone’s getting dressed, and everything else. [Y]ou know, no men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it. You know, I’m inspecting because I want to make sure that everything is good.

The facts are clear: Sexual predators don’t wait to dress up like a woman to go into bathrooms.

Women and children are not in danger from transgender people in bathrooms. Don’t get me wrong – women and children do risk sexual assault in all sorts of places (in our homes, on our streets, etc). However, lawmakers and law enforcement have not been able to show any incidents of transgender violence against women or children in public restrooms despite more than 200 municipalities and 18 states having nondiscrimination laws. As per the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women: “None of those jurisdictions have seen a rise in sexual violence or other public safety issues due to nondiscrimination laws. Assaulting another person in a restroom or changing room remains against the law in every single state.”

Do you know who is in danger in public restrooms? A 2013 survey by the Williams Institute found that 70% of trans people reported experiencing denial of access, verbal harassment or physical assault in an attempt to use the bathroom.

By rescinding the guidance baring schools from discriminating against transgender students, the Trump administration sends a message that harassing or bullying someone about using the bathroom is okay.

Is that the message we want to send to our children? Is that the message we want to send to our trans brothers and sisters?

How about instead, we show we value them?

By taking measures to protect transgender students, we can ensure that they have the same opportunity as their classmates to fully participate in school. By passing anti-discrimination measures which include gender identity and expression we will make sure that transgender people will be treated fairly and equally under the law.

And allow them to finally be able to pee in peace.

 

She Persisted

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It is all around the web today, how Mitch McConnell, using a Senate rule (the 1836-44 gag rule) designed to forbid any consideration of abolition to silence Elizabeth Warren during her testimony against the nomination of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General of the United States.

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Here is Coretta Scott King’s 1986 statement and testimony on Jeff Sessions’s U.S. District Court nomination in Alabama. As she wrote then:

Based on his record, I believe his confirmation would have a devastating effect on not only the judicial system in Alabama, but also on the progress we have made everywhere toward fulfilling my husband’s dream that he envisioned over twenty years ago.

Contact your elected representatives to OPPOSE Jeff Sessions’ nomination for Attorney General of the United States.

Find them HERE

Be like Liz – Persist!

Why I Marched

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I’ve been asked by family and others just what the fuss was all about on January 21st when the Women’s March was held. The election is over, they said. Why are you still making a fuss?

It is more than the election debacle that we were marching about, although the actions in the first week of the new presidency show that our fears were prescient.

We marched on Saturday because that is how change comes. Throughout history, protests, social activism and resistance are how gains were made. As Frederick Douglass said in a speech at Canandaigua, New York on August 3, 1857:

The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.

This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.

That is so true. For example:

      • Miners (1912) and seamstresses (1911) marched to get better wages, safer workplaces, fewer hours and better benefits for all employees.
      • On March 3, 1913, women marched to get the right to vote that many of us exercised in November.
      • In 1932, WWI veterans marched for early payment of their bonuses for overseas deployment. While it took an act of Congress to finally get their payments, the soldier’s protest led to the GI Bill.
      • August 28, 1963, African-Americans marched to demand political and civil rights denied to them by law and tradition.
      • On November 15, 1969, students marched end the Vietnam War.
      • Women marched on August 26, 1970 for equal opportunity in the workplace, as well as to secure credit and property in their own name.
      • LGBTQ people marched on October 14, 1979 to repeal discriminatory laws and policies. This was followed by another LGBTQ rights march on October 11, 1987 to demand increased AIDS research and funding and still another on April 25, 1993 to demand legislation to protect the civil rights of the LGBTQ community and to end discrimination in the military and federal government.
      • Women marched in April 9, 1989 to fight for reproductive choice and again in April 25, 2004 to protect women’s lives and reproductive freedom.
      • Those of us to whom black lives matter have been marching for the past couple of years across the nation to protest extra-judicial killings by police and injustices in the legal system.

I went to Washington, DC and took part in the marches in 1989, 1993 and 2004. On Saturday, January 21, 2017 I was in New Orleans and I marched with 3 million others across the world for equal rights, reproductive choice and an end to violence against women.

Holding my sign high at the Women's March. Photo by Nora Ghobrial

Holding my sign high at the Women’s March. Photo by Nora Ghobrial

If you weren’t able to march, we marched for you. If you’re actively anti-feminist, we marched for you. Even if you don’t think that any of the issues I’ve listed apply to you, we still marched for your privileged self.

We live in a world created by the actions of activists who fought for generations for your right to piss on our parade. And you can piss and moan all you want but know that millions across the nation are engaged and mobilized. We intend to actively resist the encroachment of fascism and the erosion of our hard earned rights.

If you’re with us in the fight, some of the ways you can join the effort include:

Check out the Indivisible Guide. Written by former Congressional legislative aides, it is a distillation of what they learned from being on the receiving end of right-wing extremist activism. The guide is free, easy to read, and extremely practical about ways to effectively influence your elected representatives.

The organizers of the Women’s March have come up with 10 Actions 100 Days. Their website has simple but effective actions to constructively engage with your elected officials.

There are many organizations working to counter anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigrant, anti-POC, anti-Muslim, anti-woman and other regressive political efforts. Two I’m personally active with are the Independent Women’s Organization (a New Orleans based Democratic women’s organization) and the Forum for Equality (a statewide LGBTQ organization dedicated to the establishment of a society free from discrimination here in Louisiana). Please support them, if you can.

And, if the marching has gotten into your blood, there are at least two more planned this year. The March for Science (date TBD) and National Pride March on June 11.

Hopefully, I’ll see you in the hall of government or in the streets.