Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas at First Congregational Church of Riverside CA

Basically this is just a link to my "4Shared" site where I have posted a bunch of Advent season photos...

...some of which I also shared on Facebook with this commentary "Christmas Eve at First Congregational Church of Riverside - I wanted to be sure and capture these events today since this may well be my last Christmas here in Riverside and I want to savor it all. First there were Christmas Carols on the front steps. Then Project Food served up a hot meal for anyone who came by - we do that every Wednesday from 5:30 to 6:30 PM - and then our Christmas Eve Songs and Lessons candlelight service. And then a quick stroll around downtown - The Mission Inn lights, the ice skating, City Hall all light up (Up there on the 7th floor where the tarps are stretched is where we held Royalty on the Roof in November). So there you have Christmas Eve in the heart of Riverside!"

Hugs, Blessings and wishes for a Happy New Year to you all,

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Regarding Riverside's proclamation - answering a comment

Comment regarding Riversides Proclamation (posted below) 

"I'm a cis- bi- ally of Trans folks. I'm wondering about the proclamation as the LGBTQ DOR rather than TDOR. Do you think adding the LGBQ diminishes the focus on Trans violence issues? Can you share any history as to how/why the city chose to proclaim it that way? I have some Trans friends who are, I think understandably, upset with it. Thank you--Joe Reilly"

No, actually I think expanding the scope supports these issues because it brings them out into the open where they ought to be – there is no diminishing of the real issues. Being a victim of violence, of bullying and other hate crimes is not something limited to Trans folks. These things happen to Gays, to Women, to people of color, to anyone seen as different and so even with statistics that are horrible with respect to Trans folks we can’t be exclusive. We don’t get to stand totally apart if we want to integrate back into society as equals. We have to reach out to others and support them if we want them to do the same for us.

Building community is what we are trying to accomplish here in Riverside and it must include everyone or it will fail. To be included means we have to learn to be inclusive and we Trans folks have to initiate it because right now we are seen as the bottom level of humanity by many. Maybe we will be the ones to start resolving it IF we don’t shut others out in the process, even if some of them have done it to us. Change can, must, start with us.  We have to learn to share our special days and work through our issues with others who have similar experiences. There are not enough days in the year to give every identity their own special day. What we need to be doing is merging together with others to put an end to the problem of bullying and hate crimes and violence at the level of it being a human problem rather than a Trans only issue.

Many cities have established LGBT centers with lots of services and groups and outreach to specific target groups like Trans and Homeless youth & etc., but Riverside has no such thing other than one privately funded shelter that serves LGBT youth under 17. The only sense of established “community” is a downtown coffee house and a couple gay bars.  If the facts I have been given by our Human Relations Commission are correct then this proclamation is the very first City acknowledgement of anyone in the LGBT spectrum and as such we—a diverse group of Trans and LGB activists and CIS allies—agreed that it would be counterproductive to take this first crumb from the City and assign it exclusively to just one segment of the spectrum when we have many Gay and Lesbian folk and others who have struggled for acknowledgement here for 30, 40 or more years. I have personally spent over 8 years working towards this end and have put out call after call in support groups, on-line forums and on Facebook for trans people to join me in this work but only a tiny handful have taken part, so out of necessity I turned to our long-time LGB and CIS allies and our progressive Churches. Without them we would not have held any of our 4 annual Trans Days of Remembrance, we would not have been able to host an entire week of Trans Awareness events Nov 17th -23rd here this year, and we would have no services at all here for trans folks so we must not and will not throw our allies under the bus now.

Were this LA or Palm Springs, San Diego, San Francisco or even San Luis Obispo there would already be an LGBT establishment such as these cities have and we would have been able to handle this proclamation differently. However because there is minimal LGBT establishment here we have to have something to build upon in order to establish it in a lasting way. Mostly the “community” here is just little splinter groups and factions in which everyone nitpicks each other when we try to work together. In fact every time one of these groups tries to get investors for a project or to establish an LGBT center here other factions start undermining the effort and being divisive, so no one invests in our “community”. Mark Takano our Congressman is openly gay but he has distanced himself from the LGBT community here because it is so unstable and immature. Therefore we asked that LGBT Day of Remembrance be proclaimed annually on Nov 21st because we still wish to honor and respect the Trans people of the world on the 20th and stand with them while trying to establish a sense of common ground for growth here. We see this as expanding rather than diminishing the impact of TDoR observances.

With this proclamation coming from the City it was our hope that it would be a foundation upon which to start uniting fragmentary groups back together without all the attendant sniping of the past, but already trans people who don’t seem to grasp the bigger situation are sniping and complaining and undermining the very historic significance of this accomplishment. So, no, I don’t think your trans friends’ upset is understandable at all. I’m sure I will get flak for saying this but I believe it is the ones complaining and grumbling who need to change, to stop being so exclusive of others in their thinking, to work with others instead of pushing their it’s-our-day-and-ours-only kind of agenda at the rest of us gender and sexually diverse folk. The Trans “community” will never come into its own until we accept being equal with others that are not Trans because otherwise we continue teaching people that some are special and others not, and that just happens to be the root of the entire problem! As humans we should be working to end the problems common to humans. Anything less is futile in my opinion.

This is the released version of the Proclamation with the corrected date. The first issue with the 20th on it was an error. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Transgender Day of Remembrance, Nov 20, 2014 at First Congregational Church of Riverside, Day 4 of Transgender Awareness Week

The video of Transgender Day of Remembrance, Nov 20, 2014 at First Congregational Church of Riverside, Day 4 of Transgender Awareness Week is finished...