Friday, June 29, 2012

Firewall Friday

I heard it exclaimed like this just this week, "it's hotter than fish grease in here!" I couldn't have put it any more colorful except to say that heat wave 2012 is happening all over including here inside COP 24/7. There was so much news that came crashing through both last week and this week that my smokin keyboard went into a "tilt" mode while my monitored literally said "going to sleep!" However, all is well and the dualing laptops are up and running ready to keep the flow of our unique take on the day's happenings and more. If the heat is on and its June, can it get any hotter in July. With all that saidd, now lets work!

The Healthcare Blizzard

After yesterday's historic Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, the "blizzzard" of hate, hand wringing, definance, gutter politics and the kitchen sink has been thrown out for discussion by right wingers and "wingnuts" who seemed to loose their minds at the decision. The level of rhetoirc and veribage went beyond the pail and often lost sight of the fact that despite fault lines within this measure, health care reform was another "kicking the can" down the road procedure that Congress is so infamous for. So AHCA has been contested on almost every court level including the highest of our system which stated that it is constitutional that such an act can be instituted and provisions within it enacted. Now Congressional naysayers will be trying more political theater with a scheduled July 22 vote to reapeal this measure which seeks to assist those with pre-exisiting conditions, indiviudals who faced bankruptable situations, lifetime caps that precluded catastrophic care and basic access to affordable insurance for families. Plus the Supreme Court's decision allows the Obama administration to go forward with a law that will extend health coverage to as many as 30 million Americans through private health insurance and Medicaid starting in 2014. Furthermore, under the law, people who earn 133 percent of the federal poverty level or less will qualify for Medicaid coverage. Those whose income is between 133 percent and 400 percent of the poverty level will be eligible for tax credits to defray the cost of health insurance. Companies with at least 50 employees will have to provide health benefits to workers or pay a penalty to the government, and some smaller companies will receive tax credits for employee health insurance. And nearly every American will be required to obtain some form of health care coverage or face a penalty under the individual mandate. For those living with chronic illness such as HIV and AIDS, this is good news which will assist with creating a substanable pathway to either access care or remain in care. However, I was most disturbed by a picture on Facebook of a coffin draped in a U.S. flag with the caption, " death of the Constitution, 6.28.12," nothing could be further from the truth. Especially as Chief Justice actually quotes founding father Ben Franklin in his self written opinion concerning the governments taxing abilities as well as responsiblities involved with that element of our Constitution. For me, that doesn't sound any death bow by any stretch of the imagination. Meanwhile Presidential candidate Romney has continued his classic "flip flopping" with his "on day one of my administration I will reapeal Obamacare," stomp  that will resonate to those who are hell bent on removing President Obama from office, but I predict will eventually fall flat when he's pressed for details and alternatives. No matter where you stand on this issue, the stage has been set, the wagons are circling and there's gonna be a serious battle royal come this fall. Get ready to get your vote on!!  Watch this forum for continuing coverage, updates and breaking news surrounding this issue and more. (links courtesy of

Know Not?: The Video Rubuttal

Wednesday was offically reconized as National HIV Testing Day which included messaging from President Obama, CDC officials and collaborators around the country. Locally the Arkansas Deparrtment of Health promoted the day with its typical press conference to finally roll out it's long awaited HIV Awareness Campaign, "Know Now," crafted by bid winner Advantage Communications. The day was to commence with your ususal "window dresssing" of speakers, politicos and photo op's that are intended to send signals that you are down with the "order of the day" and so forth and so on. However, even as this campaign was being seen for the first time,  the images presented appeared to be represenative and to some degree culturally sensitive, however with a closer look the mising link was no same gender couples publicly represented in the presentation. Despite constant questioning from this forum, it has never been clear as to the destination of these posters. It's been mentioned that they will be offered to local barber shops, I assume beauty shops and other possible venues. Will they appear in local gay watering holes is undetermined. Also who will be apart of this distribution network or when these will be available also seems to be still pending. So what's up with all of this, since the Fed's spent almost 50 times as many Benjamins on their well crafted public relations campaign that prominently featured African Americans in numerous phases of gay life including "coupling." I can't go on without mentioning that their "already paid for" campaign was rolled out months ago and was directly available to states for "click and play" use. Yet it was decided that Arkansas would somehow trump that campaign with our own home grown mash up resulting in the "know Now" outcome. Meanwhile, the gents of Strilite who were not "officially" invited nor notified of the event which is a bit typical of those hastedly arranged ADH events, believed that this distinct omission was a "OUCH" moment. After an agressive power discussion, it was decided that a "rebuttal" was their order of the day which resulted in the full slide presentation being embeded on The Living Affected Facebook, You Tube and an embed here in this forum. The group surmized that if their work to empower and demonstrate pride among their peers wasn't apart of the public mix, by an institution that bound the group to the D-UP program which is a diffusion of innovation, which cites that self efficacy as a vital element to its success. How could this imaging be stigmatized and kept seperate from the entire campaign. It was the decision of the group to move ahead to mimic ADH's campaign noting their concerns and questions about off stage decisions that resulted in the exclusion. In full disclosure, I have been apart of this mentorship from its inception and believed in their concerns which led to my participation in the effort. Both at pre and post time, the search was on for comments and explanations on this mis-step. Already some have chided that this is a "much a do about nothing."  I couldn't disagree more. I find it disconcerting that a evidenced based intervention was plucked and inserted as a prevention module without a full understanding of the direct self efficacy messaging that its facilitators would embody and be charged to deploy to peers. The module chosen needed to connect the dots to all necesary messaging needed across the board. Its simply unacceptable to continue this "frankenmess" approach that when opportunity presents itself to control the "message" with consistency, continuity and aligned with cultural sensitivity it falls short due to some perhaps "comfort zone" thinking. I find it unthinkable to shepard the next generation of GBM into credible Opinion Leaders meanwhile not urging them to have an "opinion" on issues associated with their mission of "Brothers Keeping Brothers Safe." I would rather step aside than to allow these gentlemen to believe that the tongues untied of James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Bayard Rustin, or Barbra Jordan that pre-date them were in vain and meant nothing in speaking to the powerful on behalf of the oppressed. I've let them know that "it's not only about taking your seat at the table, but demanding to be heard at the table is paramount."  The questions are basic, "why was the decision made to not display the images? Who made that decision? What was the rationale? And how do they justify their actions?  In closing just as the Know Not campaign states, ain't nobody mad, it seems that we "know now," that somebody's got some splanin to do. Let the dialog begin and begin and begin get the picture.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Twista Thursday

The Afforable Health Care Act Passes the SCOTUS Test

On this historic day, President Obama stepped to the podium to message to its citizens that the wealthiest nation on the planet will indeed move to make health care a priority for its people. This measure just as many other legislative edicts will most likely require some tweaking, but the fact remains that allowing at least 33 Million Americans a chance to access health care is nothing short of a tremendous forward shift that will in the long run get early detectation rates up, deal with chronic illness such as HIV and AIDS and usher in a period where persons in need of care will not fret seeing a doctor due to their financial constraints or diastrous bankruptcy situations. I personally can atest to rigors of dealing with the health care system. For years I struggled to keep insurance through a myraid of jobs, including accessing the expensive COBRA insurance stream in between jobs in order to qualify for any future insurance options.  In 2004,  I was diagnoised with a degenerative condition called avascular necrosis which would require pricey hip replacement surgery. However, my condition was tagged as "pre-exisiting" and no insurance including High Risk Pool insurance was available for me. Consequently I had to find a means to navigate through numerous programs and services in search of accessing the care and finding specialist Dr. Gordon Newbern who would solve my situation and improve my quality of life. It is life changing circumstances such as this that will be afforded many of my fellow citizens through this act. Although Obama will have to endure terse reactions from his detractors and most certainly a monstrous assault from his haters, it is no doubt that  this hard fought victory that no other American President has waged and won, is now in fact done. The Supreme Court and its Chief Justice Roberts have spoken. Now its high time that the country embrace the personal responsibility of engaging insurance for each our health care sakes. Bravo and Viva! Obama for standing firm in the belief that health care is not a priviledge but rather a right to be accessed by all. Amen.
Video courtesy of

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Rocket Fuel Wednesday


The International AIDS Society & Kaiser Family Foundation Partner to Offer Free Comprehensive Daily Coverage of Conference
Robin Sidel
Kaiser Family Foundation
+1 202 347 5270
Francesca Da Ros
International AIDS Society
+41 796 109 679
Scott Sanders
International AIDS Society
+1 202 486 8761

Menlo Park, CA and Geneva, Switzerland — The International AIDS Society (IAS), custodian of the International AIDS Conference, and the Kaiser Family Foundation will provide free, worldwide online access to the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) taking place in Washington, D.C., USA.
AIDS 2012 will feature presentations of important new scientific research and opportunities for dialogue on the major challenges facing the global response to AIDS. Kaiser — an independent operating foundation and non-partisan source of facts, information, analysis and journalism, based in Menlo Park, Calif., USA — is the official webcaster for AIDS 2012, providing coverage of daily developments from July 22 to 27 on its website,
In addition to more than 50 online webcasts of conference sessions and press conferences, podcasts will be available for downloading in both English and Spanish. Some sessions, including the Opening and Closing Sessions, will be presented via live webcast, while other coverage will be tape-delayed by a few hours and available on-demand. The webcasts will include sessions featuring President Bill Clinton, South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby, Bill Gates and Sir Elton John, among others. The full list of webcast sessions (subject to change) is available at
Kaiser's Daily Global Health Policy Report, a free, daily news summary service, will be enhanced during the week of the conference to include summaries of what the global media are reporting from the conference and a guide to the latest video session coverage.
Kaiser is also providing the video for conference hubs, which will feature viewings of select AIDS 2012 conference sessions followed by discussions and workshops on how the sessions' content can be applied locally. The two official conference hubs will be held in Kiev, Ukraine, and Kolkata (Calcutta), India, while more than 40 independent hubs across the world are already planned.
A widget for sharing Kaiser's content is available for organizations and individuals who want to further spread the information by carrying the coverage on their own websites, blogs or social networking pages. Kaiser's video content from the conference will also be available to embed on other sites.
"The webcasts are a key part of the IAS's commitment to ensure that the proceedings at AIDS 2012 have the greatest possible impact in the global response to HIV," said Elly Katabira, IAS President and International Chair of AIDS 2012. "We are grateful to Kaiser for their partnership with us to take key portions of the conference program directly to locations and communities most deeply impacted by the epidemic."
"Offering free access to many of the conference sessions allows us to connect people around the world to important HIV/AIDS developments that emerge from this conference," said Drew Altman, Kaiser President and CEO. "This free, online conference experience ensures key findings and information reach a worldwide audience, including those who might otherwise have no access to the discussions taking place in Washington."
More information about the conference, including the latest program details, is available at
Kaiser's AIDS 2012 conference coverage will be available online through the Foundation's Global Health Gateway,, which also features Kaiser's original policy analysis and polling on the U.S. role in global health; country-specific disease and demographic data through the Global Health Facts database; regularly updated resources tracking major policy and budget developments; news summaries from the Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report; and a reporter's guide to covering the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.
About the Kaiser Family FoundationThe Kaiser Family Foundation, a leader in health policy analysis, health journalism and communication, is dedicated to filling the need for trusted, independent information on the major health issues of the day. The Foundation is a non-profit private operating foundation, based in Menlo Park, CA with an office and conference center in Washington, D.C.
About the IAS
The International AIDS Society (IAS) is the world's leading independent association of HIV professionals, with over 16,000 members from more than 196 countries working at all levels of the global response to AIDS. Our members include researchers from all disciplines, clinicians, public health and community practitioners on the frontlines of the epidemic, as well as policy and programme planners. The IAS is the custodian of the biennial International AIDS Conference, which will be held in Washington, D.C., in July 2012, and lead organizer of the IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention.

Statement by the President on National HIV Testing Day

National HIV Testing Day highlights the importance of HIV testing and the fight against HIV/AIDS. Of the over 1.1 million Americans living with HIV, more than 200,000 are unaware of their infection, and may unknowingly be transmitting the virus to others. Knowing your HIV status is a vital step toward accessing life-extending treatment for HIV, and thanks to ongoing research, that treatment is more effective than ever.
In July 2010, my Administration released the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which emphasizes the goals of reducing infections, improving health outcomes, and reducing HIV-related health disparities. Two years into its implementation, the Strategy continues to focus Federal, State, and local efforts on improving the delivery of HIV/AIDS services, including expanding outreach, testing, linkage to care, and treatment.
Testing remains a special priority – and thanks to quick and accurate tests, finding out your HIV status has never been easier. The Affordable Care Act now requires many health insurance plans to provide recommended preventive health services with no out of pocket costs, giving millions of Americans better access to HIV testing. Another CDC program, the Expanding Testing Initiative, has conducted 2.8 million tests in its first three years. Together, these and other efforts will help prevent new infections and ensure that people living with HIV lead healthy lives – moving us towards our goal of an AIDS-free generation.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

TIdes High and Low

More Pride in the Ctiy

It seems that there are more "Prides" than meet the eye. Case in point, on Facebook I've seen mentions of "Little Rock Pride" that is suppose to stepping off July 22 under the title "One Heart, One Love and One Pride." Then there's this to support the poster...

" Its time to plant a new tree!! That's right a new tree called Unity. Now I have meet a lot of genuinely nice people in the community but the problem is we just don't know how to "Be" around each other. We form families to find family! The connection, the belonging, the love, but instead we get a lot of chaos and drama that could be easily solved and resolved only if we just tried. No matter what we label ourselves the truth is we have developed hardened hearts through the struggles of just being us and trying find out who we are. Club Goodtimes with Host Angiesaidthat Comedian Angie is asking that the Devorie's, Coi'yell's, Love's, Monroe's, Couture's, Dior's, Monroe's, Jolie's, Dupree's, Iman's, Dickerson's, Sanchez's, Armore's, Royal Swagger's, Armonie's, Gotti's, Bugotti's, LAPK on the Move's, PBS's, 727's, Soyo's, Currency's, be in attendance for the One Heart, One Love, One Pride Unity After party. Going down at 3910 Asher Avenue!!!See More — with Blu Gotti and 47 others.

I have to assume that there is suppose to be some "meeting of the minds" or reconnecting of some sort that is being sought. Of course I'm all about resolving and making amends when things go awry but it seems that this could be a teachable moment across the board for both individuals and community wide. In the meantime, as more develops about this mash-up, you'll hear about it here first.

NWA Pride June 30, 2012 – Fayetteville, AR
June 30, 2012 - Line up will start at 8 AM
This year's parade will be line-up in the parking lot on the corner of Meadow Street and Church Avenue, Fayetteville, AR., with the parade starting at 10 AM.

We also have our theme, "Color Outside the Lines” - Celebrating the community in a red state. The parade will be dedicated Linda Wilson, Diversity Pride Events, and Art Beeghly (NWA Center for Equality), both who left this world in 2011, but helped a community flourish in NW Arkansas.

All Out June Events Following Fayetteville Pride Parade
All Out June Festival after the parade at Powerhouse 112 N. University Avenue

The White Party happens that night at Speakeasy

9pm at 3983 Sycamore Dairy Road, Fayetteville

GEAR Program - Social Picnic
July 12 – 6:30pm
The Center at CAR
800 Scott St. LR
Inside First Presbyterian

This event is specifically for current members of GEAR and other transgender and gender variant community members and their partners.
CAR will provide hot dogs, buns, drinks, ice and paper goods. Please bring a dish to share

Monday, June 25, 2012

Heatwave COP24/7

Whew are we having a early heatwave? I'd say so and not only is hot on the outside, its starting to sizzle as well here at COP 24/7. So its hot here, there and damn near everywhere. Get out your church fans, sarsaparilla's, mint julep's, sprinkler systems, pools or tubs as we try to find some relief from the heat. In the meantime, we are still firing on all cylinders and then some. Its more of what we hope that you stop by for...let's go get em!

PRIDE in the City

It's O-V-A! Pride in Little Rock came and went and from what I'm still hearing some of you didn't know that it was passing you by. Anyway thanks to all who stepped up to produce what they thought that the "community" wanted or needed as a means to celebrate pride. I did get a chance to catch a few of the activities and events. For the most part they were "well attended" however, it depends on who you ask. There were lots of photos that flowed on Facebook and mucho talk about who was where and what they were doing. What the hell was life like before Facebook amazes me, since you can read almost "everything" about whomever is posting about themselves. Its an obsession that the younger set and some old timers as well can't do without. All across the bar you can see the phone gadgets lit up in the darkness while individuals tap away the latest news or updates. I've even seen bartenders seemingly more interested in their laptops than there patrons. A couple of times I've had to interrupt these "keyboard manics" to say hey "what does it take to get a drink around here!" It all seems so too much for me. Especially since having a decent conversation with anyone has almost become impossible for several reasons including the phone business but more so because folks are so pre-occupied with their gadgets that they don't seem to know how to say "hello."  Even during a few of the pride activities there were "immediate" photos that got uploaded to highlight either how much fun we were having or not having. After a week of karaoke, a toga party and shows, the week ended with one last show of turnabouts featuring those who don't usually "do drag" rolled out Sunday night. The evening also was graced by Norma Kristie in a cameo appearance to demonstrate that she can still command the spotlight and audience. All in all the week was a mix of old and new with a healthy dose of longing for more. So much for 2012 and until next year...

COP 24/7 and Dab's the AIDS Bear

I knew that one day my prince would find me and roll right up on me to wisk me away to his fairy tale land where we would rule the manor and eat at lavish banquets. Well not quite, but I did get a holla from Dab's the AIDS Bear while I was hanging at the Conway Pride event a few weeks ago. I didn't know much about Mr. Dab but after a quick intro I found out that he has a sweet history that needs to be shared. I hope that each of you will reach out and share Dab with someone special in your life or consider sharing your donation dollars with a local community based organization.

 Dab the AIDS Bear Project is an organization that works in collaboration with Lutheran Social Services of Northeast Floria.

Lutheran Social Services of Northeast Florida, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, provides the fiscal sponsorship for fundraising activities conducted by Dab the AIDS Bear Project. Contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowable by law.

Through HIV awareness, education and prevention we work to empower our fellow Americans about HIV and AIDS. We are helping to bridge the gap from government funding to provide life saving HIV medications and emergency services for people with HIV and AIDS.

We receive only private donations. Our AIDS Service Organizations do not need another competitor for the few Ryan White and ADAP government funds available.

We greatly appreciate your donations!
Our contact information

By standard mail:
DAB the AIDS BEAR Project
1386 NE 32nd Street
Oakland Park, FL 33334

Friday, June 22, 2012

Raising Voices in Pride & Health

Next week the Supreme Court will be ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Health Care Act. If you have not been keeping up with this issue it vital that each of you become aware of how this ruling will impact the health care system and those who use it. COP 24/7 will be posting the latest updates and links to information concerning the AHCA plus how your voices will be needed to inform decision makers on what's needed, who's being left out and why.

Op-ed: LGBT Health Is About Life and Death

A new effort to improve LGBT health sees challenges in an upcoming Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act, as well as new opportunities.

BY Hector Vargas and Hutson W. Inniss 

LGBT health is about life and death.
While that statement seems dramatic, when we see LGBT youth are far more likely to have attempted suicide and to be homeless; lesbians are less likely than straight women to get preventive services for cancer; gay men, particularly men of color, experience far higher rates of HIV infection; and transgender men and women are far less likely to have health insurance, it’s not a hyperbolic statement.
These are only a few examples of the health disparities the LGBT community faces. Ensuring our community has access to quality health care is about life and death, and as a community we should understand what has been done to address these health disparities and what we can do in the future to improve our own health.( pictured Hector Vargas, L, Hutson W. Inniss, R)

Recently, we joined several other LGBT health experts from advocacy to policy to research along with private foundations who fund work in this space. We challenged each other to think about what we need to do to make our community healthier. Organized by the Sellers Dorsey Foundation and supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, we worked with media, press, and communications experts to get creative about how we can address the root causes of disparities and educate our community, health care providers, and policy makers.
We are not starting from ground zero. Through advocacy, our community has made significant strides over the past three years. Most notably, we welcomed the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the health care reform law signed into law by President Obama in 2010, which contains numerous provisions that are already helping to end disparities. The law, as being implemented by this administration, extends federal nondiscrimination protections to health care for the first time. The ACA provides for increased data collection and bars insurers from denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions, which is significant for transgender individuals and people living with HIV, and helps make prescriptions more affordable—also a huge boon to people living with HIV/AIDS. The law also paves the way for much-needed research into the causes of these health disparities.
There is no question that the ACA goes a long way towards beginning to close health disparities. The Center for American Progress has identified all the provisions mentioned above, as well as more that also promise to benefit the health of LGBT Americans. But today, the fate of the ACA is on the line. Within days, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether the law will stand and if our community will continue to have these tools to improve health into the future. From our perspective, losing these tools would be a significant setback, but one that cannot erase the progress we and many others have made toward ending the disparities that harm our community’s health.
Whichever way the Supreme Court rules on the validity of the ACA, one thing is certain: We need to continue to address LGBT health disparities with a laser-like focus and through a multi-disciplinary approach. Sure policy work on the federal and state level needs to continue, as does research. Educating our community is another avenue, so is training health care providers to provide culturally competent care to the community.
When we set aside policy and politics and look at our own community, the focus of our work needs to go beyond policy change. We must reach out and address the fundamental issues that result in different health outcomes for the LGBT community. Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, family and community rejection, ignorance and misinformation in the media and in health settings are just the beginning of our work.
We all walked out of our meeting with a renewed sense of purpose to create ways to reach everyday LGBT people to take their own health more seriously and understand the impact of stigma and discrimination on their physical and mental health, something that seems so basic is critical to our moving forward.
The landscape has shifted. The message that these disparities exist and that they need to be addressed is no longer just contained to a small group of LGBT organizations—it has penetrated the wider health and policy world. The administration has not only listened but also has taken action on several fronts to address LGBT health, including protecting hospital visitation rights for our community. As we look toward the International AIDS Conference coming to Washington in July and of course the impending Supreme Court decision, we redouble our efforts to keep moving forward, not back. Think about your own health, and join us. (source: Advocate 6/20/12:

HECTOR VARGAS is executive director of GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality, which hosts its 30th Annual Conference on LGBT health issues in September.
HUTSON W. INNISS is the executive director for the National Coalition for LGBT Health. Its next annual meeting will be held November 12th and 13th in Washington, D.C

Thursday, June 21, 2012

COP 24/7: Diversity and the Bleaching Affects

As pride week rolls on, I believe that its important that we balance the free falling with some insights from those who are deep thinkers and opinion movers. Such a person is Urvashi Vaid. Never heard of her?, then you should.  Especially since she spent time in Little Rock about two decades ago sharing her wealth of understanding of  how organizations can make a difference. In this article she challenges the ideas and principles around the word "diversity" and perhaps hidden agendas being "bleached " in the process. I felt that her powerful thoughts and words should be apart of the "pride" mix and provide another teachable moment from COP 24/7.   

Thinking About Diversity
by Urvashi Vaid

These informal remarks were given at a workshop sponsored by the Center for the Critical Analysis of Social Difference at Columbia University on April 2, 2012. The Center hosts interdisciplinary conversations among scholars focusing on “keywords.” This conversation involved me, Ira Katznelson, Fred Harris and moderator Mae Ngai.

Every time I sat down to think about today’s presentation, I found myself impatient, irritated, avoiding the topic. I realized the word diversity actually annoyed me a great deal, and even infuriated me to the point that I could not focus on this exercise. They say that if it’s hysterical, it’s historical. So I had to ask myself why this annoyed reaction.
I came up with two reasons: first, my experience with the deployment of diversity leaves me cynical about its function and utility. And, second because too often the deployment of the concept serves to contain, marginalize, co-opt, or otherwise absorb the challenge being made by those outside the mainstream.
My experience with diversity comes out a range of situations — running nonprofits, building organizations, building teams of volunteers and staff in organizing projects, demonstrations, campaigns and social movements, funding initiatives on diversity, working in civil rights organizations, fundraising, engaging in the writing of public policy and legislation, media advocacy and politics. In each of these environments I have used the “diversity” arguments to question and push for change in the dominant hierarchies of race, gender, class or sexual privilege in the environments in which I have worked. My irritation comes out of a frustration with the concept as a mechanism of achieving structural change.
It also comes out of living with the backlash against any politics that prioritizes race or foregrounds race. What makes my feelings about diversity so personal is the myriad experiences — through an accident of birth and a chosen leftist politics, of embodying diversity and feeling used and managed by it as a concept, claim and analytic tool. Whether it’s the experience of being the indian immigrant in a small upstate town in the mid-1960’s facing a question of whether you lived in a teepee; or the experience of being an out lesbian in the ACLU of the early 1980’s, which had a hard time seeing sexual preference (as it was then called) as anything bigger than a matter of a first amendment freedom issue. Or whether it is the experience of being one of the only person of color leaders in the mainstream LGBT political movement for more than two decades, or being the only woman at scores of decision making meetings in the gay movement, or being the staff person to extremely wealthy and privileged individuals with whom I forged close partnerships – the fact of not being a part of the mainstream is a constant and unrelenting lesson in otherness. And otherness gets weary especially if you think of yourself as universal and what passes as universal a clever magic trick that has deluded millions for millennia.

Three ways I have used the term in my work:
1) Diversity as a good thing/a moral values appeal. Used this way persuade those in the dominant group in a particular institution that race, gender, economic justice, sexuality, disability, or whatever should be part of the agenda.
  1. Framed it as an appeal to do the right thing: The institution/government/corporation should do the right thing in terms of “inclusion” of the difference – because the “ism” or exclusion or prejudice is wrong.
  2. Framed it as a Todd Gitlinesque-common humanity appeal – diversity is not about having one of each but knowing that we can carry the interests of each in one
  3. Framed it as moving beyond identity….It’s about a politics of justice not an identity of x, y or z. A justice politics creates avenues for participation and recognition for wider ranges of people.
  4. Lately, I’ve been making the data-nerd/social scientist appeal…. Because there is racial, gender and class diversity in gay communities, we need to have a political agenda that speaks to the needs of these communities
2) Second way I have worked with it is to focus on the development of tools, trainings, mechanisms to increase representation and inclusion by race, gender and class on decision making bodies and staffs of institutions; to enumerate categories of people previously excluded in public policy frameworks as a mechanism to secure their resourcing and inclusion in service delivery.
  1. Successful examples of tools: firm requirements/quota queen approaches worked on actions — 1993 MOW requirement of 50% POC diversity and how it was trashed; and boards (in the 1980’s all gay boards used to have co-chairs m/f and required gender parity)- today less than 40% women and far less POC.
  2. Diversity trainings for boards – tons of investment by philanthropy in this to what end…. Urban Institute in 2009 noted that CA has 58% POC population and nonprofits in state have 28% POC on boards; nationally its 14%.[1],[2]
  3. Inclusion is a funny thing and entirely impossible to achieve in a perfect way. My partner Kate Clinton and I often joke that our clearest auditory and visual image of our years in lesbian feminist organizations in the 1970’s was the sound of folding chairs being pushed backward to widen the circle. When perfect inclusion became the impossible goal, the enterprise fragmented. Another example — LGBTQIAA
3) Ecosystem approach – diverse organizations like biodiversity make life better, makes our work more successful. This is the corporate and nonprofit mantra.
  1. Four key arguments for diversity on boards (according to Jan Masoaka at Blue Avocado)[3]: mission (part of an organization’s value system); business case (it’s good business for the company or group); it’s part of the social responsibility of organization to increase access; definition of organization is as one that serves “the diverse” population.
  2. But data disprove the attention that this receives- corporate boards are still extremely not diverse.
These three experiences leave me feeling that diversity generates several unintended consequences:
  • A focus on inclusion can bleach out a real power analysis
  • A focus on adding treats difference as if it were a condiment
  • As an approach that has the effect of re-empowering that which it says it claims to question
  • Resentment
Diversity as Bleach
Saying things like we must build more diversity on our board actually can leave the conversation of power unaddressed. One can “diversify” by race, gender, class and still keep the mechanisms by which power is held, gained, distributed and organized in any institution intact.
  • It is a wonderful cosmetic for any institution. Covers structural imbalances under the guise of commitment.
  • bleaches out structural power analysis in many situations by enabling them to be seem identity based rather than structured by material things like money, what neighborhood you live in, what school you went to, who your mentors were and whether they are popular, social capital and social networks that structure so much of why some people get ahead and others don’t, white supremacy or unquestioned privileging of certain values – like the normalcy of heterosexuality.
  • At the same time, a focus on diversity and seeing it as inclusion can bleach out the different histories that different forms of exclusion bring – so we have a black president, but the racism with which he and his family are regarded, reported, treated reflect the persistence of ideas and logics of white supremacy in America.
  • Diversity and inclusion programs in corporate America are great examples of this bleaching effect. Corporate diversity programs proclaim a commitment to workplace equity diversity within institutions that reproduce gender and racial hierarchies and dominance.
    • There’s lots of literature and investment by corporations on how to engage in “inclusion”, what the benefits can be for employees and company, impact of diversity policies (happier employees, more competitive recruitment). E.g. From Catalyst Research on Building LGBT Inclusive Workplaces – “Respondents cited three factors that affected their career advancement and the formation of critical relationships in the workplace: a lack of awareness regarding LGBT issues, discriminatory behaviours, and exclusion from important connections with others. LGBT women reported less positive relationships with their managers than LGBT men and non-LGBT women and men did. LGBT employees at organizations with diversity and inclusion programs, policies, and practices, as well as those with broader talent management programs, were more satisfied and committed, described their workplace as more fair, and had more positive relationships with their managers and colleagues.”[4]
    • So structurally, corporate boards are about 16% women[5] but every fortune 500 company has a diversity initiative. Even in Canada, women held 14.5% of board seats at FP500 companies, and women held 3.6% of chair positions in public companies in 2011. Racial diversity on corporate boards is even smaller.
Diversity as Flavor
  • When it is deployed in many corporate or nonprofit settings the concept of diversity is used as a sort of condiment – a flavor enhancer.
  • It is additive not revolutionary – a spice to add flavor to the colonizing power’s palate, not a restructuring of who makes decisions really. Out and Equal, the national organization for LGBT employees in corporate America, hosts one of the largest gatherings in the movement bringing together members of hundreds of corporate LGBT Employee Resource Groups – they are called. Workplace diversity is a huge focus of these companies, and their resource groups compete to get 100% perfect ratings from HRC for their workplace diversity policies. But I very few of these companies have openly LGBT people on their boards, much less women or people of color. Diversity is really only about placating employees and adding a little color or flavor, not about sharing power.
  • I do believe that adding people and voices and perspectives to the table can change and transform things; but not necessarily or inevitably and only if there is a competing imperative or pressure to change.
Diversity reinforces the non-diverse as a category
To identify diversity merely restates that there is a norm against which the thing that is being identified as different is in fact different. In this sense, using the term reinforces the otherness of other people.
  • It perpetually defines every non dominant category as marginal to the main event, as the diversity (extra) that is added and not the subject of the show. Despite the truth diversity is the norm in all situations, it is what is presented as special, and the norm as that which simply is – even if it is not. (e.g the term racial minorities).
  • Its naming often reinforces the power of the normal/the dominant, it feels inauthentic to me in the same way that talking about privilege can – like hey we have privilege (which we are trying to undo….). Even though we know that what passes as normal is either a byproduct of structural systems that reproduce certain hierarchies (patriarchy, capitalism, white supremacy, family, heterosexuality) or a byproduct of tradition (inherited notions, behaviors, values, beliefs) which is also structurally reproduced.
Ultimately I suppose what vexes me about the word is that through its deployment as a goal, a tool and an analytic category we have not been able to transform racial, gender and class hierarchies even within social movements most identify.

Diversity and Resentment
Our consideration of the concept would not be complete without notice of the significant backlash produced by all efforts to secure change in existing racial, gender, sexual and class hierarchies. The word diversity is burdened with the efforts of potent movements that push back any and all efforts to secure racial equity, economic redistribution, gender equity and sexual freedom. Jean Hardisty named the mechanism by which right wing populism works as “mobilizing resentment.” An accurate term that begs consideration of the deeper political challenge of how social movements should handle a politics of resentment – that visceral combine of longing, envy, anger and woundedness that comes out of feelings of loss of power and control, feelings of humiliation, experiences of losing ground, fear or greed. In short – how can a politics of redistribution engage with the reality of resentment? Some might answer by saying tough, you are losing ground and power and you should. I think movements for justice and redistribution need to have a better answer than that. Affirmative action fights illustrate this problem. (Today’s NY Times had an article about the ongoing affirmative action fight and the fact that the Supreme Court has accepted a case in which it will again review the question of how race is considered in college admissions decisions. One law professor quoted noted that since the 2003 affirmative action decision involving U of MI, race had increasingly been creeping in as a factor, while another lawyer for the American Council on Education was quoted as saying that colleges and universities will “be seeking diversity by any legal means possible.” )
Seen in this larger context of resistance to change, and recognizing the significant investment that each of us has in keeping the privileges and power we enjoy, the idea of diversity seems rather naïve. The only way I know how to answer the question of how to manage resentment is through a focus on power and a concern with processes that allow participation, engagement and accountability from the institutions that have power over our lives.
I betray my lesbian feminist roots. June Jordan wrote: “there is difference and there is power. Who has the power determines the meaning of the difference.” I’m interested in building the power/Hardware and Operating Systems through institutions and participatory decision making processes which are conscious of race, class, gender and sexuality dynamics and through a set of political outcomes being pursued.
How do we create mechanisms that allow those outside power structures to challenge and change hierarchies and exclusions by race, sexuality, gender and other forms of outsiderness? Can any movement for fundamental change ever persuade those with power to give it up, and how? What mechanisms allow for power to be held by people with very different goals and ideas? Check out her website for more information on Ms. Vaid and her work at:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rainbows Adrift

Its day three or four of PRIDE 2012 depending on how you spin it. And just say that "it is what it is." So what some folks don't even know that its "gay pride" in the city or that some people are not sure what to make of the schedule of events. Togas and wrestle mania? Really? I guess you have to be ready to stretch you imagination or comfort zone to get into these activities. Of course as I've said previously, if you wanted something more then stepping up and making it happen was the order of  the day. Unfortunately this forum will do its best to cover it all and hopefully many of you will share your views, observations and thoughts on the weeks events. We'll do a wrap up as time allows. Stay tuned as we keep bringing you "what's really going on."

Rupaul on Saturday Night Live

How can we even talk about Gay Pride without mentioning one of the iconic "dragons east of the Mississippi," known as Rupaul "You better work" Charles. In case you missed the antics of this "goddess" of glam mayhem from his duo of "dragathon" programs of "Rupauls Drag Race" and now another spin off entitled "Drag U" in which straight women go through the "dragulator" to reveal their inner drag vixen. I've seen this mash up and who ever green lighted this madness must have been smoking some good stuff. In the meantime Charles has done his best to be "queen of mixed media" ranging from video's, talk shows, music, movies and now executive producer of her own production company. Plus there was even some craziness about "Ru" being touted as a presidential candidate that got some notice until Mr. R decided that it was just a cute notion, not to mention a great publicity perk for those drag programs. So what's left?, of course its "Saturday Night Live," as a recent petition has been launched to favor such an appearance. Over 20,000 folks including many of you locally have signed up to encourage the producers or SNL to bring Rupaul to the hot lights of Rockefeller Center. If Betty White could get a nod, then surely why not the "supermodel of the World." Want to join in the fun, then hit it Facebook and share your enthusiasm for Rupaul to go on the show and in her immortal words, " drag for your life and don't fuck it up." We'll keep you posted...

President Highlights HIV/AIDS at LGBT Pride Month Reception

By Grant Colfax, MD, Director, Office of National AIDS Policy
Dr. Grant Colfax
Dr. Grant ColfaxPresident Barack Obama highlighted HIV/AIDS during his remarks at an LGBT Pride Month reception hosted at the White House on June 15, 2012.
Paying tribute to the generations of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans who have devoted their lives to the fight for equality, the President also called attention to his Administration’s work to put forward the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, and to lift the HIV entry ban, leading to the fact that the XIX International AIDS Conference Exit Disclaimer (AIDS 2012) will be held in the United States next month for the first time in two decades.
“So we still have a long way to go, but we will get there,” the President said. “We’ll get there because of all of you. We’ll get there because of all of the ordinary Americans who every day show extraordinary courage.” View the President’s full remarks on the White House’s YouTube channel Exit Disclaimer. Read more at the White House blog. The above material was sourced from which is the official blog page for Since this posting, there was some controversy involving a few of those invited guest whom posted pictures of themselves flipping off a portrait of former President Reagan during the event. After the event the situation went viral and was reported from numerous sources including a piece in the Advocate which posted this:

Gay Activists Flipping Bird at White House Flips Off Americans
Yesterday Philadelphia magazine published photos of three Pennsylvania gay activists making hand gestures in front of presidential portraits after being invited by President Barack Obama to the White House’s recent LGBT pride reception. While Philadelphia Gay News publisher Mark Segal did a sarcastic thumbs-up pose in front of the portrait of George W. Bush and remained above most of the media criticism, his colleagues Matthew Hart, National Director for Public Engagement at Solutions for Progress, and photographer Zoe Strauss (pictured here) gave former President Ronald Reagan's portrait the middle finger. According to Philadelphia, Hart posted his photo on Facebook with the caption, “Fuck Reagan" and later told reporters,“Yeah, fuck Reagan. Ronald Reagan has blood on his hands. The man was in the White House as AIDS exploded, and he was happy to see plenty of gay men and queer people die. He was a murderous fool, and I have no problem saying so. Don’t invite me back. I don’t care.”
That's just what happened. After the Drudge Report picked up the story yesterday, it made its way to D.C. and the White House issued a statement, telling Fox News that the two bird flippers won't be invited back.
"While the White House does not control the conduct of guests at receptions, we certainly expect that all attendees conduct themselves in a respectful manner. Most all do," said White House spokesperson Shin Inouye. "These individuals clearly did not. Behavior like this doesn’t belong anywhere, least of all in the White House."

Even some gay activists came out against the bird flippers.
Christian A. Berle, Deputy Executive Director of the gay organization Log Cabin Republicans says, "It is unfortunate that the image conservative America is seeing today of LGBT people is of gay leftists misbehaving at the White House, rather than
the millions of patriotic, decent LGBT citizens, many of whom, like Log Cabin Republicans, hold President Ronald Reagan in high esteem. Log Cabin Republicans are particularly offended by these images, given that our organization's founders sought and received the aid of then former-Governor Reagan in support of gay rights in California in the 1970s. These photographs have hurt our community and make advocating for inclusion and equality more difficult. The participants should be ashamed."


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pride Flags UP and OUT

Thanks to Google Analytics, this forum is capable of checking its "stats" on the who, what, where, when and how many of you check in on the info that we provide. Amazing as it seems and certainly I couldn't be more amazed is the fact that COP 24/7 has had over 100,000 page views from around the world. All those eyeballs and then some have taken a gander at this little experiment that I started some six years ago. Wow! Who knew? And so it goes, CorneliusOnpoint keeps moving upward and onward as a force in the LGBTQ community and beyond. If you are not following us then perhaps you should, because we could be talking about you next. Come join us by following us, opt-in e-mail or subscribe. Its easy and I value your support and encouragement. Don't forget to ask yourself, "what have you done today to be proud?"

Give a year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA at Our House!

Our House provides the working homeless – individuals and families – with shelter, housing, job training, education, free childcare and summer youth programs in order to equip them with the skills to be successful in the workforce, the community and their own families.

Our House, Inc. has immediate openings for four AmeriCorps VISTA positions that will start in August 2012. Our House VISTA Members serve in capacity building roles in which they assist with program development and implementation (as opposed to direct client service). Most Our House VISTA Members have Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees. Candidates must be good communicators and be highly computer literate. Experience in program development and project coordination is preferred.

Candidates should apply online at and email a résumé and brief cover letter to Sarah at Significant priority will be given to applications submitted by July 1, 2012

Current Opportunities Include:

Development VISTA

Plan and implement fundraising events; assist the Executive Director with donor outreach efforts, board relations, grant management and development; track and recognize donors.

Volunteer Relations VISTA

Develop the policies and procedures for recruiting, coordinating, documenting, and acknowledging the contributions of volunteers.

Campus Improvement VISTA

Assist with facilitating green project on campus; identify and implement projects to make the campus more energy efficient. Identify, design, and implement volunteer projects that address the ongoing needs of grounds and building maintenance and rehabilitation at Our House.

Community Engagement

Manage marketing and public relations that promote the mission and accomplishments of Our House, cultivating relationships with partners, and facilitating positive communication between community members and Our House staff.

Housing and Alumni Relations
Obtain information about available housing in the area for residents who are transferring out of Our House and maintain relationships and facilitate meetings with the Our House alumni group.

These are full-time service positions that include a living stipend of $858 per month

plus an education award of $5,350 or stipend of $1,500 upon completion of the service year.

Check out for more information about Our House.
Visit for more information about VISTA and to apply.

Avatars – Reaching Gay Men

In the past we have highlighted the work of our colleagues who are using virtual tools to reach their target audience. This month, LGBTQ pride month, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation (SFAF) launched a new campaign that incorporates the use of avatars and texting to promote HIV testing. We asked them to share more about the campaign, and will follow up with them in six months to share their lessons learned.
And we are pleased to be working with SFAF as they help us plan our satellite session on the state of new media and HIV at AIDS 2012.

Many Shades of Gay Website
Screen shot of Many Shades of Gay website
By Neil Giuliano, Chief Executive Officer, San Francisco AIDS Foundation

We have made tremendous progress in recent years to reduce new HIV infections, here in San Francisco and nationwide. But with infection rates still on the rise among gay and bisexual men—the only risk group for which this is the case—we know we can do better. That’s why we are proud to introduce an innovative new public health campaign to encourage gay and bisexual men to test regularly for HIV and make frequent HIV testing the social norm.
The campaign is called “Many Shades of Gay.” It celebrates the diversity of the gay community while focusing on one simple message: No matter what you’re into, get an HIV test every six months.
At the heart of the effort is an interactive and educational website that invites users to create a personalized avatar—a tiny, digital version of themselves. Described as “the most robust avatar generator ever built,” it contains literally billions of customization options, including wardrobe, accessories, tattoos, and piercings—allowing gay and bisexual men to create an avatar as conservative or campy as they desire.
Once an avatar is created, it informs the user about the importance of regular HIV testing and helps them to find the nearest testing location. The website allows users to opt in to receive reminders via email or text from their avatar when it’s time to get another HIV test. Guys who create an avatar are invited to keep the campaign going by sharing it through social media channels and inviting friends to join the effort.
The site also includes a channel for HIV-positive guys, which provides health information and resources to connect them to HIV treatment and care. Studies show that early detection and treatment of HIV can dramatically reduce a person’s chances of spreading the virus to someone else.
“Many Shades of Gay” is a collaboration between San Francisco AIDS Foundation, San Francisco Department of Public Health, ISIS, Alliance Health Project, Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center, Mission Neighborhood Health Center, and funders from the public and private sector. Global advertising agency ATTIK provided pro bono creative development for the campaign.
We encourage guys to create their own avatar today by visiting Exit Disclaimer.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Pride Rainbows in a Free Fall

PRIDE 2012
Little Rock Events Roll OUT

It's here again...PRIDE 2012 and it kicked off this weekend with old favorites and new mash ups that will certainly make for an interesting week. Last Friday night was a "salute" to former Miss Gay Arkansas, Sookie Simone who has rejoined the scene after a extended absence. I expect that we will be seeing more of her as it appears that MK's ( Miss Kitty's Saloon) is ramping up its "dance hall/ show venue" profile with many scheduled events throughout the summer. Included in this mix will be karaoke, Renegade fundraisers, burlesque troupes and who knows maybe some dancing elephants may come through at some point. Many of the events are being hosted by Miss Montana Reed, who keeps the maddness moving and grooving in between drink specials. Just as all these events were being announced, I was even more intrigued with the new guest bartender "imports" Ricki (l) and Ryan (r) (pictured) of New Orleans who camped it up and made their presence known during the weekend throw down. As I learned these two actually plan to drive between the Big Easy and The Rock each weekend. Of course I kept thinking "really" then I grimaced with a "why?" Surely there's plenty of work and certainly more money to be made in that city considering a bi-state commute and those pesky gas prices. Even though I certainly had fun with these two and they are cute as buttons on my 501's, but one would think that this job trek would get old after awhile. Perhaps they should work a deal similar to the frequent flyer warrior, Whitney Paige whom jet sets weekly between Love Field and Clinton National and all points east or west. This high flying, "bird watching" diva has been commuting to the area while holding down gigs in Dallas, Ft. Worth and numerous other Texas stops before doing Little Rock on Friday and Saturday nights at the Discovery Complex. Talk about doing double duty with wigs in tow! You just got to love what you do to be racking up all those sky miles and carrying those drag bags! Big props to each of these working and traveling folks. Of course, there were plenty of individuals whom said, "is this Gay Pride week?" And once again somehow the memo got lost in translation for a whole bunch of reasons that I could even began to name. So if you didn't know, check out all the Facebook postings and certainly go to for updates and schedules. Picture courtesy of Clay Clayton Photography LLC.

Don Lemon Goes Left on Journalist

CNN host Don Lemon railed against The Daily Caller and its reporter Neil Munro on his show Sunday for interrupting President Obama during his Friday remarks on immigration policy.
The Daily Caller's Munro raised many eyebrows last week for what some called his "outrageous" and inappropriate behavior. The Daily Caller tweeted that it was "proud" of Munro and editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson suggested that his reporter's actions were similar to those of former White House correspondent Sam Donaldson during the Reagan years.
“I don’t remember Diane Sawyer scolding her colleague Sam Donaldson for heckling President Reagan," Carlson said in a statement after Munro interrupted Obama. "And she shouldn’t have. A reporter’s job is to ask questions and get answers."

In a statement to The Huffington Post's Michael Calderone, Donaldson rejected any comparison between himself and Munro, stating, "Never once did I interrupt a president in any way while he was making a formal statement, a speech, honoring awardees or in any other way holding the floor...What this man did yesterday is something new, to me wrong and unusual."
During his "No Talking Points" segment, Lemon dismissed Carlson's statement and praised Donaldson's response. "There’s a huge difference between Sam Donaldson and Neil Munro," Lemon said. "For starters, who the hell is Neil Munro?"
Lemon highlighted a second portion of Donaldson's statement, in which the former White House correspondent addressed what he thought of some of the president's harshest critics.
"Let's face it," Donaldson wrote. "Many on the political right believe this president ought not to be there – they oppose him not for his polices and political view but for who he is, an African American!"
Lemon called Donaldson's statement "dignified" and thanked him for pointing out what he called the "elephant in the Rose Garden."
"Finally," Lemon said. "Thank you, Sam Donaldson – enough said there."
Lemon continued, "This is America...we pride ourselves on civility. And we also respect the Office of the Presidency just as we respect the courage of a man or a woman who dons a uniform to fight for our country. As a journalist, I know there are ways to get my questions answered. It may not always be on the timeline I want, but there's always a way to do it. And Mr. Munro interrupting to leader of the free world at the White House in front of an international audience is not the way."
(sourced from Black Voices/Huffington Post)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Weekday Beats of COP 24/7

Pentagon to Celebrate Gay Pride 2012
(AP) In this June 13, 2012 file photo, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testifies on Capitol Hill...
Full Image
WASHINGTON (AP) - Last summer, gays in the military dared not admit their sexual orientation. This summer, the Pentagon will salute them, marking June as gay pride month just as it has marked other celebrations honoring racial or ethnic groups.
In the latest remarkable sign of change since the military repealed the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, the Defense Department will soon hold its first event to recognize gay and lesbian troops. It comes nine months after repeal of the policy that had banned gay troops from serving openly and forced more than 13,500 service members out of the armed forces.
Details are still being worked out, but officials say Defense Secretary Leon Panetta wants to honor the contributions of gay service members.
"Now that we've repealed 'don't ask, don't tell,' he feels it's important to find a way this month to recognize the service and professionalism of gay and lesbian troops," said Navy Capt. John Kirby, a spokesman.

This month's event will follow a long tradition in the Pentagon of recognizing diversity in America's armed forces. Hallway displays and activities, for example, have marked Black History Month and Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. Although some feared repeal of the ban on serving openly would cause problems in the ranks, officials and gay advocacy groups say no big issues have materialized - aside from what advocacy groups criticize as slow implementation of some changes, such as benefit entitlements to troops in same-sex marriages.
Basic changes have come rapidly since repeal - the biggest that gay and lesbian soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines no longer have to hide their sexuality in order to serve. They can put photos on their office desk without fear of being outed, attend social events with their partners and openly join advocacy groups looking out for their interests.
OurServe, a once-clandestine professional association for gay service members, has nearly doubled in size to more than 5,500 members. It held its first national convention of gay service members in Las Vegas last fall, then a conference on family issues this year in Washington.
At West Point, the alumni gay advocacy group Knights Out was able to hold the first installment in March of what is intended to be an annual dinner in recognition of gay and lesbian graduates and Army cadets. Gay students at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis were able to take same-sex dates to the academy's Ring Dance for third-year midshipmen.
Panetta said last month that military leaders had concluded that repeal had not affected morale or readiness. A report to Panetta with assessments from the individual military service branches said that as of May 1 they had seen no ill effects.
"I don't think it's just moving along smoothly, I think it's accelerating faster than we even thought the military would as far as progress goes," said Air Force 1st Lt. Josh Seefried, a finance officer and co-director of OutServe.
He said acceptance has been broad among straight service members and has put a spotlight on unequal treatment that gays continue to receive in some areas. "We are seeing such tremendous progress in how much the military is accepting us, but not only that - in how much the rank and file is now understanding the inequality that's existing right now," he said.
That's a reference to the fact that same-sex couples aren't afforded spousal health care, assignments to the same location when they transfer to another job, and other benefits. There was no immediate change to eligibility standards for military benefits in September. All service members already were entitled to certain things, such as designating a partner as one's life insurance beneficiary or as designated caregiver in the Wounded Warrior program.
As for other benefits still not approved, the department began a review after repeal with an eye toward possibly extending eligibility, consistent with the federal Defense of Marriage Act and other applicable laws, to the same-sex partners of military personnel.
"The department is carefully and deliberately reviewing the benefits from a policy, fiscal, legal, and feasibility perspective," Eileen Lainez, a Pentagon spokeswoman said Thursday.
Gay marriage has been perhaps the most difficult issue.
Though chaplains on bases in some states are allowed to hold what the Pentagon officials call "private services" - they don't use the words wedding or marriage - such unions do not garner marriages benefits because the Defense of Marriage Act says marriage is between a man and a woman.
The policy known as "don't ask, don't tell" was in force for 18 years, and its repeal was a slow and deliberate process.
President Barack Obama on Dec. 22, 2010, signed legislation repealing it. Framing the issue as a matter of civil rights long denied, Obama said that "we are a nation that welcomes the service of every patriot ... a nation that believes that all men and women are created equal."
The military then did an assessment for several months to certify that the forces were prepared to implement it in a way that would not hurt military readiness. And it held training for its 2.25 million-person force to inform everyone of the coming change and what was expected. ( sourced from /AP)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Rocking The Updates 24/7

There are many talented and creative forces in cyberspace that I've discovered and reached out too in my quest to widen my post offerings. Anthony Carter has a unique prospective and insights that I find thought provoking and a source of inspiration. Mr. Carter has given me permission to showcase his works on this site and I'm glad that he agreed to allow me to share his writing with my global village of readers. Ladies and Gentlemen and all who haven't decided, enjoy his musings and look forward to more postings of his works.  He has his own website at

COP 24/7 Special
Psyche Suicide: Let's not make a deal
by Anthony Carter

have spent an inordinate amount of time explaining my thoughts,dreams and behavior.
This would be great if the persons I was struggling to communicate with gave a shit. More often than not they didn't.
When you are in a family that either doesn't get you or more appropriately refuses to adjust their parenting style and the way they interact with you (which everyone has had an experience of), it becomes very easy and seductive to abandon ourselves and disturbingly begin to make deals to prevent pain and ridicule.
This also limits our ability to really "live".
What begins early and often in our childhood quickly becomes our personality and then ultimately the way that we operate in the world.
For years, I have kept myself at a crushingly low financial level.
Primarily, it has gone on because of buying into the perception and ill set of beliefs that state : artist= poor and struggling.
Interestingly, I chose not to pick up another popular myth disguised as truth : artist=chemically addicted.
In each case, I either took on or dismissed my parents' beliefs regarding what artists and their lives consisted of although neither of them are artists nor have any artistic friends to legitimize their claims.
In both extremes the deal that I made with myself was one that left me limited in scope,resentful,frightened and with few productive life choices.
As much as I wanted to resist this limiting and pointless declaration of what life as an artist looks like,I found it very comforting and soon it became comfortable and "just the way things were".
If I could create worlds and all sorts of possibilities,why couldn't I create an existence that I enjoyed and brought me great pleasure ?
This is the epitome of making deals with ourselves.
Part of this process involves (is anchored) in the belief that what we want doesn't matter and that someone or something or some situation knows better.
A true recipe for disaster.
At a recent eye-opening and paradigm shifting tour of an institution dedicated to mental health, it was pointed out that the best set of resources you can offer any person struggling with mental illness is the encouragement that their vision for their life and its subsequent desires and goals are what matters most.
It is difficult to move forward if we believe our desires and thinking don't matter.
Part of making deals with ourselves involves a whole lot of agreeing to things that make us squirm emotionally. Even when agreeing to things that make us uncomfortable,we somehow justify our behavior by secretly telling ourselves : I'll choose later/better the next time /it doesn't matter he/she/they don't know any better.
While this may prevent a psychotic outbreak and ample opportunity to go completely postal,a very significant part of us dies a little.
We have betrayed ourselves in the most hurtful and poignant way and are now in a position to distrust our thoughts.
If we can't trust our thinking,we limit our imagination.
This is always the first thing to go when we are adjusting our expectations by sharing them with people who either find them pointless or are unable to assist us in achieving them.
How do we prevent this or recognize when the impulse is upon us ?
First, we should know that to some extent we are all guilty of this heinous behavior and that anybody who isn't is probably more often than not referred to as an asshole or selfish and difficult.
It always amazes me that people get stifled and become afraid of being labeled selfish and that this term is only spewed when someone doesn't want to fulfill a request.
Nobody ever refers to someone as selfish when they are eagerly agreeing to help.
Recognize that refusing to make a deal or pimp yourself will get a whole lot of stares based on:Who does she think she is?
Second, recognize that deal making does awful things to your psyche and your friendships.
Two years ago I struggled to prevent the onset of homelessness. It occurred anyway.
The deals I made with myself were beyond wacky.
My internal deal making really challenged my friends and almost cost me some serious friendships.
Because of the deals I made (that it was a mistake moving to California, maybe I wasn't that talented, I was brought here under false pretense, my life in NYC was so much better and magical) I found myself desperate for attention and the need to be seen.
The key element in making these ridiculous deals is that they are always created in a most reactive way. Culturally sanctioned and familiarly supported, our deal making gives us the false impression that we are in control and yet our thinking has stopped and our brains have ceased to do any processing or looking for a batch of fresh solutions.
We are simply reacting and devising solutions that will get us "liked" by whoever is in charge this week.