You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2009.

March for LGBTQ Equality

March for LGBTQ Equality

The National Equality March just got its march route permit approved—awesome! Organized by Equality Across America, the goal of the march is simple: “Equal protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states. Now.” I’d add “queer” to the LGBT in that sentence, but overall, amen.

Organizers Cleve Jones, David Mixner, and Dustin Lance Black have all been hard at work publicizing the march. In coverage leading up to the event, there’s been some debate about the march—Is it worth putting time and energy into the march (which will occur while Congress is out of session) that could go toward legal and political advocacy work? Will it effectively achieve anything? I hold the point of view well articulated by Kate Childs Graham in “Advocacy v. activism: both/and, not either/or“: both advocacy and activism are essential. We need hard work to change laws, strong education to enlighten the ignorant and apathetic, and strong voices to demand LGBTQ equality.

Will you be at the march? Michelangelo Signorile will. Check out his piece from the Advocate,Why I’m Marching.” I unfortunately can’t be there (though I will be in spirit).

Can’t make it to the March? Take time that weekend to brainstorm on what you can do to work for LGBTQ equality (and if you’re already are hard at work on that, consider if there’s a little bit more you could do). Talk to your friends and family. Make a plan of action. Become a super-queero in your own community and join Project Yay Gay (also check out Be Yr Own Queero). And learn how to get involved with and support organizations like the following:

There’s a ton more, too—bring on the recommendations! And keep up on LGBTQ news over at Pam’s House Blend (please suggest other LGBTQ news sources, too!).

I love WAM, and this is the icon they're using, but I must say that I cringe at the "RU?"—it's just too much.

This past spring, I attended the WAM! conference (I know, it’s like an old Batman cartoon—wam! pow! kazaam!). What is WAM? Women, Action, and the Media, a yearly conference for journalists, activists, and everyone else, dedicated to strengthening women’s voices in the media. Imagine hundreds of women writers, bloggers, filmmakers, journalists, and activists coming together to discuss all sorts of topics at the intersection of the media, activism, and feminism. My favorite panels I attended this spring were:

And in addition to awesome sessions like this, there are free film screenings by Women Make Movies. And the opportunity to connect with other amazing women up to exciting, important work in the world. Plus, the conference is just a starting point. As WAM director Jaclyn Friedman says, “Every day, WAM!mers help each other place op-eds and articles, get powerful media jobs, leverage new technology, hold the media accountable, produce and promote books, films, and other projects, get stories told about our lives and work, and change the very structure of the media itself.”

Up until recently, WAM was a project of the Center for New Words, a Boston nonprofit whose mission is to use the power and creativity of words and ideas to strengthen the voice of progressive and marginalized women in society. But now the Center is transforming into WAM, which will be an independent national organization that will launch local chapters, build a thriving online community and resources, and continue to produce a yearly conference “creating an unstoppable force for gender justice that will change the media landscape for good.” Totally awesome.

This also means that 1) they have to postpone the next conference until 2011 and 2) they really need financial support at this critical transition time. If you think they’re as cool and important as I do, consider chipping in.

Health-care reform is serious business. But couldn’t we all use a laugh?

Two things to check out:

1. Billionaires for Wealthcare

“If we ain’t broke, then don’t fix it,” they say. Below, watch some scenes from the recent DC tea party protests as you listen to the Billionaires for Wealthcare hit song “Let’s Save the Status Quo.” You can even be a billionaire for wealthcare yourself. And their signs are hilarious; my favorites: “Because nothing says ‘freedom’ like denying claims,” and “Let them eat Advil.”

2. Have you seen the new MoveOn PSA featuring Will Ferrell and other famous people?

A few weekends ago, I hiked Monument Mountain with my dear friend Liora. It was a beautiful day—perfect for summit sitting, wandering, talking, tree climbing, and goofiness.

Liora and Me

Liora and I

Eating apples (from the tree of knowledge?) at the summit.

Eating apples (from the tree of knowledge?) at the summit.

Looking off into... the distance? the future?

Looking off into... the distance? the future?

Tree-climber or PhD? Both!

Tree-climber or PhD? Both!

PIC_0017

Homage to the Karate Kid.

Yay!

Yay!

Then, the other day I finally made my way over to East Mountain. There’s a delightfully tucked-away trail down the road, a steep climb, then a ladder up a big rock to a view of Great Barrington, the Berkshire Mountains, and the Catskills beyond. I was in a reflective, contemplating kind of mood, so the solo walk up, lunch hour (and mountain/sky/cloud-gazing) on the rock, and walk down without seeing other humans was perfect. Cell phone photos follow.

East Mountain View

View from East Mountain

Boots on the rock.

Boots on the rock.

Giraffe sighting!

Giraffe sighting!

Image courtesy of SEIU blog post.

Image courtesy of SEIU blog post.

I just learned from a SEIU blog post that in eight states (plus DC), eight of the sixteen largest health insurance companies have denied coverage to people based on their experience of being a victim/survivor of domestic violence. Way to further victimize them, insurance companies. I can’t stress enough how completely harmful this is. Think of this scenario (which I am sure happens all too often, based on the number of people uninsured in our country): A women gets physically harmed by her partner. She has no insurance, so maybe she forgoes treatment, because she can’t handle the debt she’d incur for treatment without insurance. That isolates her from not only necessary healing treatment, but also from the contact with medical staff that may be able to reach out to her, make her feel safe and strong enough to share her story and seek out additional help and support to get away from an abusive husband or boyfriend. Or say she does go the hospital or her doctor for treatment despite having no insurance, and she comes out with a huge bill. This might make her all that more economically dependent on her abusive partner. Domestic violence perpetrators often use finances to control their partners, and economic issues can be a huge match to spark domestic violence incidents.

Further proof that health-care reform is desperately needed in this country.

A few overdue thoughts on the President’s address on health-care reform to the joint session of Congress last Wednesday.

The President addresses a joint session of Congress on health-care reform. White House Photo, 9/9/09, Pete Souza

The President lays out his proposal for health-care reform to a joint session of Congress. White House photo by Pete Souza.

Overall: Very well done, I thought. I was glad to hear him address the misinformation that’s been flying around in the debate and condemn the politics, scare tactics, and games involved in the perpetuation of such misinformation. I definitely have questions about the proposed insurance exchange system. I was happy that he didn’t take the public option off the table and worked to clear up misinformation surrounding it, but I hope he honestly pushes for it (it looks more and more like the administration is willing to settle for less than the public not-for-profit government-administered option at this point). He mentioned at one point the health cooperative idea, which to be honest, I haven’t looked into yet. Ted Kennedy’s words, from the letter delivered upon his death, were moving: “What we face is above all a moral issue; at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.” In the end, though inspiring and important in setting the record straight, Obama’s address was what it was: a speech. Now it’s time for action.

To dig into the details:

Statistics cited:

  • More than 30 million Americans don’t have health coverage right now.
  • We spend one and a half times more per person on health care than any other country (“but we aren’t any healthier for it”).
  • Obama’s proposed plan would cost 900 billion dollars over 10 years (and he laid out how it would be paid for)—less than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and less than the tax cuts for the wealthy at the beginning of the the previous administration.

Quotes:

  • “We did not come here just to clean up crises. We came here to build a future.”
  • “I will not accept the status quo as a solution.”
  • “There are still significant details to iron out.” (This garnered a laugh.)
  • On the “death panels” rumor: “laughable if not so cynical and irresponsible.”
  • “I will not back down on the basic principle that if Americans can’t find affordable coverage, we will provide you with a choice.”
  • “We did not come to fear the future. We came here to shape it. I still believe we can act even when it’s hard.”
  • “I still believe we can do great things, and that here and now we will meet history’s test.”

Random:

  • How do you get the announcer guy’s job? “Madame Speaker, the acting dean of the diplomatic corps!” “Madame Speaker, the President’s Cabinet!” “Madame Speaker, the President of the United States!”
  • By my tally, the President was interrupted by applause and/or standing ovations (from some, though certainly not all, members of Congress) 36 times.
  • Yes, we all know far too much about Joe Wilson at this point.

Health care in our country is broken. Ever since I watched Michael Moore’s Sicko, I’ve become increasingly interested in and disturbed by the current state of health care in the United States. Thousands of people are uninsured because they can’t afford it or they’ve been denied coverage because of preexisting conditions. As Rachel Maddow reported last week, one of the victims of the recent gym shooting, a 22-year-old woman who had just graduated from college—who hasn’t found a job yet that would provide health insurance and has aged out of her parents’ insurance coverage—didn’t have the money to cover her medical bills from the treatment of her gunshot wound, so her family and friends were having a car wash to help raise money for her. Medical bankruptcy is a common occurrence. Insurance companies try to find ways out of providing coverage. Drug companies have undue influence. Traditional medical care invests too little in prevention and alternative treatments. The problems are too many to list here, and I don’t know the half (or quarter or eighth) of it.

Everyday people—not just insurance giants and drug companies who can spend thousands of dollars on lobbying government officials and astroturfing against health-care reform—deserve to have their voices heard, and acted on, in this debate. We need affordable health care for everyone. We need integrated care. We need a public option.

Today I received an e-mail from MoveOn that featured a new video they coproduced with REM. Worth a watch. Worth making our voices heard. Worth action.

Also check out:

A few weeks ago, I was handed the opportunity for a last-minute adventure. A friend who had planned a weekend getaway to see WaterFire in Providence decided that she couldn’t go and offered me her fancy hotel reservation for free. So, off went Angela and I to Rhode Island.
Free 4-Star Hotel Room

Free 4-Star Hotel Room

Our schmancy hotel was downtown, right across the street from the capitol building. How schmancy was it? There was valet parking. The front desk staffperson that checked me in had the title of “choreographer.” And the pillows on the comfy beds were huge.

A ring of fire next to the Providence capitol building.

A ring of fire next to the Providence capitol building.

The whole reason we were there, though, was WaterFire. A sculpture installation on three of Providence’s downtown rivers, WaterFire is made up of a series of 100 small bonfires that float like buoys on the meandering rivers. It’s magical—the intoxicating smell of burning wood, the sound of (dramatic) international music piped along the walkways, and most of all the sight of two mesmerizing elements (mesmerizing enough on their own, even more so in their fanciful dance).

Line of Fire

Line of Fire

I don’t know about you, but I could stare at a bonfire for hours and stare at moving water for hours, so the combination was enchanting. (It would have been more so if there weren’t hundreds of people milling about, of course, but such is the reality of WaterFire.)

Pretty lady with a flower.

Pretty lady with a flower.

Throughout the night, people were taking gondola rides down the river, and as Angela and I stopped under one of the bridges lit by old oil lamps, a gondola passed and its guide threw a flower to us. Some of the charm wore off once we read the paper tag that accompanied it—”WaterFire is sponsored by [insert the name of some corporate entity that I can’t remember].”—but still, it’s not everyday that you get a flower thrown at you from a passing gondola.

Fire and Water

Fire and Water

In order to keep the multitude of fires burning throughout the night, there is a firetender boat winding its way along the rivers. Staffed by five or six people dressed in black, the boat is full of chopped wood ready to feed the fires. There was something about the sight of the firetending that seemed ancient, primal, ritual.

Firetender Boat

Firetender Boat

Classic arms-length view of Angela and me.

Classic arms-length view of Angela and me.

So, it was a delightful random adventure. I had first heard about WaterFire from my friend Maureen, a talented photographer whose photos of the phenomenon do the magic of it much more justice. But I leave you with my best shot at capturing a bit of it:

Water and Fire

Water and Fire

Prompt: My first car…
Time: 15 minutes

My first car was named Matilda. She was a ’91 Dodge Spirit, technically maroon (but really more of a dirt brown), boxy and spunky and reliable—an old lady of a car. She came from a shady, fat used car dealer whose name was Skippy or Bub. She was the means of independence, of freedom, of excitement, as cars are to young people who grow up in small, spread-out towns. Her windshield wipers would fail, her shocks would fail, and ultimately, her brakes would fail, but she still felt reliable, like it must have been something I did to anger her, like that was her way of showing me. Maybe it was the wrong air freshener or maybe it was one bumper sticker too many. Maybe it was the 9,000-mile road trip—when the air conditioning failed and the console of our portable radio melted in the Arizona heat—maybe it was a couple miles too many. Or maybe it was just a machine. A machine a little worse for the wear. How do we become so attached to metal, plastic, rubber? We become attached to the people we became in our first cars, to the places they bring us, to the people that share the journey. Was I crazy, strange, just plain silly for pulling over to savor the 100,000-mile mark, to take a picture of the odometer? Or was I just celebrating my own 100,000 miles? And how Matilda helped me get there.

Rachel Maddow interviews Tom Ridge.

Rachel Maddow interviews Tom Ridge.

For anyone that missed it, I highly recommend Rachel Maddow’s interview with former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge from Tuesday night. The way that she questions and challenges him—straightforwardly, honestly, adeptly, with strength and respect—on everything from the possible politicization of raising terror threat levels to the Bush administration’s choice to invade Iraq, is a shining example of her incredible skill in seeking out the truth and speaking truth to power.

I think you should watch the whole interview from the beginning, but if you only have 10 minutes, check out the segment in which Maddow and Ridge discuss the decision to go to war in Iraq.

What’s Going On Here?

Partly It's the Boots is ever-evolving (just like me)—opinions, wonderings, projects, freewrites, fascinations, adventures, and the like. Not to mention current events, feminist perspectives, lefty politics, LGBTQ equality, and much more.

Find out more about me and this place you find yourself.

Enter your e-mail address to subscribe to Partly It's the Boots and receive notifications of new posts by e-mail.

Join 31 other followers

Tiny House, Big Community

Help me build my dream tiny house!

No idea what I'm talking about? Find out more!

Donate to my Tiny House Fund.

Tweet Tweet

wordpress stat
%d bloggers like this: