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29 May 2016 @ 09:35 am
In the early 1960s, Pensacola couple Ray and Henry Hillyer had a simple plan: Invite some out-of-town friends to spend a weekend at the beach.

Nearly 60 years later, the Hillyers are credited with starting Pensacola's annual Memorial Day weekend parties and with helping other gays struggling with their identities in a time when many lived hidden lives in fear of legal prosecution and ostracism.

The Hillyers were civil rights pioneers who created an event where gay, lesbian and transgender people could come together openly and celebrate their lives and culture, said Jay Watkins, who teaches U.S. history at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

Watkins' doctorate dissertation at King's College in London is an in-depth look at the history of the LGBT culture in the South. The dissertation is titled "Hot Times on the Gay Gulf Coast: Queer Networks and Cruising Through North Florida's Spaces, 1945-1965."

"A lot of people might not look at beach parties as political acts or civil rights acts but there was a lot of value in providing a space where people could be open and come together as gays and lesbians," Watkins said. "I've heard story after story about people who came to the events, and that it gave them the courage to come out, and gave them consciousness that they took with them when they left."

The Hillyers began networking with other gays in the 1950s when they created a book club, the Emma Jones Society. Watkins said the couple used the name Emma Jones to order books and magazines that might have been flagged as pornographic by the postal inspector.

"At that time anything gay was considered pornographic," he said.

The fictional Emma Jones conjured an image of an average Southern woman above suspicion from prying postal workers, he said.


The beach parties began in the 1960s and were originally held July 4.

"They picked the Fourth of July because it was the most American of the holidays," Watkins said.

The date was chosen to make a statement that gays were Americans, too, he said.

An early invitation to the party features Abraham Lincoln and George Washington in an embrace with the phrase "Let's Come Together" underneath the image.

The parties grew throughout the early 1970s, drawing estimated crowds of more than 4,000.

The popularity of the summer gatherings has ebbed and flowed through the years, but the events have been a constant influence on LGBT culture along the Gulf Coast, he said.

The region's tourism-driven economy helped the parties to succeed in Pensacola during an era when gays were often shunned.

"The locals lived with it because money was coming in," he said.

The beach gatherings were on the remote swath of Pensacola Beach near the eastern entrance to Gulf Islands National Seashore where people could gather away from other residents and tourists, he said.


As the parties swelled to tens of thousands in the 1980s and 1990s, they garnered push back and protests from church groups and conservative leaders. Organizers devised a unique way of letting locals know the importance of the event to the local economy — having visitors stamp the cash they used during the annual weekend to let people know it was "gay money."

Organizers of Pensacola's annual LGBT film festival, held in October, adopted the named Stamped in tribute to the act.

"A lot of local business owners weren't happy with the LGBT community, so people started stamping their cash. It made a big impact," said Ashley Rupp, president of the film festival.

The name is a unique way to recognize the efforts of LGBT pioneers in the city, she said.

Johnny Chisholm, owner of the Emerald City nightclub, began organizing and promoting local Memorial Day LGBT parties in the early 1990s after having participated in the events in previous years.

The massive beach parties featuring stage acts with drag queens and dance music drew tens of thousands of visitors every Memorial Day.

With more widespread acceptance of the LGBT community, events such as the Memorial Day weekend parties have become less popular because people can go to so many other clubs and events, Chisholm said.

"We can go to any bar in town now," he said.

But Chisholm, Watkins and others said the Memorial Day gatherings continue to have a special place in the hearts of many because they helped open the doors for the acceptance the LGBT community has today.

"I think it is a part of history that does need to be preserved and recorded," Chisholm said.

Watkins agreed.

"If we don't keep track of that history, it is going to be lost. We are in an interesting time now because a lot of gay bars and places where people used to go are disappearing," he said. "I don't think events like the Memorial Day parties will disappear altogether, but they might never be as big as they once were and a lot of that has to do with the general cultural acceptance (of LGBT people) that is happening now."

Melissa Nelson Gabriel, mnelsongab@pnj.com
He was in his room playing while a guy, almost his dad’s age, had come over to the house while his 16-year-old brother was babysitting him. There was a big age difference between the two brothers at the time, but John would always do as his older brother, who we’ll call Ryan, said, as Ryan would pull him around in a wagon and babysit him often.

While he was asleep, John woke up to his brother whispering outside the front door. ‘Don’t worry, he’s asleep’, he said. The older guy then said something he couldn’t hear, but John could make out the word ‘visit’.

‘The next morning–the day he disappeared–my parents were at work,’ John said. ‘My brother was acting very strange. I remember he kept checking the clock. In the afternoon, I remember him picking me up and asking me if I wanted to go in the wagon. I was too hooked on Nintendo 64 and said no. He almost begged me and I said no again.

‘Then he told me he had to run to our neighbor’s house for something, I don’t even remember what he said. I said okay. He reminded me to not open the door for anyone, only mom and dad. I shouted at him “OKAY!” because Super Mario was getting on my fu**ing nerves and he wasn’t helping.

‘He gave me a hug and told me he loved me and left. He never came back.’

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The entire article
08 May 2016 @ 07:21 am
Tidbits from the Internets:

Mother’s Day is a holiday honoring motherhood that is observed in different forms throughout the world. The American incarnation of Mother’s Day was created by Anna Jarvis in 1908 and became an official U.S. holiday in 1914. Jarvis would later denounce the holiday’s commercialization and spent the latter part of her life trying to remove it from the calendar. While dates and celebrations vary, Mother’s Day most commonly falls on the second Sunday in May and traditionally involves presenting mothers with flowers, cards and other gifts.

Celebrations of mothers and motherhood can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who held festivals in honor of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele, but the clearest modern precedent for Mother’s Day is the early Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday.” Once a major tradition in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe, this celebration fell on the fourth Sunday in Lent and was originally seen as a time when the faithful would return to their “mother church”—the main church in the vicinity of their home—for a special service.

In the United States, Mother's Day started nearly 150 years ago, when Anna Jarvis, an Appalachian homemaker, organized a day to raise awareness of poor health conditions in her community, a cause she believed would be best advocated by mothers. She called it "Mother's Work Day." Fifteen years later, Julia Ward Howe, a Boston poet, pacifist, suffragist, and author of the lyrics to the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," organized a day encouraging mothers to rally for peace, since she believed they bore the loss of human life more harshly than anyone else.

In 1905 when Anna Jarvis died, her daughter, also named Anna, began a campaign to memorialize the life work of her mother. Legend has it that young Anna remembered a Sunday school lesson that her mother gave in which she said, "I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mother's day. There are many days for men, but none for mothers."

Anna began to lobby prominent businessmen like John Wannamaker, and politicians including Presidents Taft and Roosevelt to support her campaign to create a special day to honor mothers. At one of the first services organized to celebrate Anna's mother in 1908, at her church in West Virginia, Anna handed out her mother's favorite flower, the white carnation. Five years later, the House of Representatives adopted a resolution calling for officials of the federal government to wear white carnations on Mother's Day. In 1914 Anna's hard work paid off when Woodrow Wilson signed a bill recognizing Mother's Day as a national holiday.

~ ~ ~

Give her a call. Let her know you're thinking about her and appreciate her giving birth to you. :) Drop by and give her a hug if she's in town, and maybe even make her some breakfast.
In the general public, there seems to be utter confusion over the definition: transgender. That's kind of where this all begins, which is just compounded by all the fear and misinformation about who is actually doing any molesting or engaging in voyeurism, regardless of how rare those things actually are.

It's just so hard to tell all the fearful people to please stop for a second and breathe, because they're all whipped up into such a frenzy and no actual facts or reason are getting through.

I'm putting this here to just try to get down a few thoughts, then have some of you comment with your thoughts, and maybe together we can eventually put together something that can actually be shared to the masses, or at least to some of the more fearful individuals, and then hopefully diffuse some of this irrationality before some people truly get hurt or lose their lives over this.

And please don't be afraid to share with me if I'm getting any of this wrong, because that's the very last thing I want to do.

Okay, so step one, transgender people are real, just like cisgender people are real. Cisgender people identify as the same gender as their physical gender. Transgender people identify as a different gender from their physical gender. Transgenderism has been declassified as a mental disorder since December 2012. So there is nothing wrong with a person because they are transgender. Just like there is nothing wrong with a person because they identify as cis.

This is really not a difficult concept if one understands that the body and the mind are two different entities. Christians are likely to split that into: body, soul, and spirit. Either way you look at it, most people have an understanding that we are more than just one part. To illustrate these parts, our body doesn't immediately cease to exist when our conscious self is no longer present. In life, sometimes those parts seem to align with an arbitrary baseline concept of gender, and sometimes they don't.

Step two, what we are on the inside (basically our real selves, our thoughts, emotions, memories, personality, likes, dislikes, beliefs) needs to play lead in determining how we coexist with our bodies, at least as far as options that are made available to us. Though not a mental disorder, the reason why it's good to keep the term: transgender is so the medical professional can confirm the diagnosis and be able to offer options to their patient. How all of this is facilitated and to what degree and the order in which any changes are made is ultimately up to the patient. Many times the goal is not to "pass" for the other gender, but sometimes it is. Sometimes the desires for specific changes are all intertwined with social norms of a particular culture, and sometimes it isn't.

Step three, and continuing that thought, as cis people, (which I am, and that I also benefit from cis-privilege) it is important to remember that it is not the responsibility of a transgender individual to "look" like a particular gender for them to be addressed with the pronouns that they prefer. They shouldn't have to earn that right from anyone. Transgender women aren't men wishing they were women, or playing like they are women, or fooling anyone into thinking they're women. They are women, full stop. Transgender men are not simply wishing they were men, or role-playing men, or trying to pass for men. They are men. End of story.

I think there are still too many fearful people who think that transgender women are men in drag, or that transgender men or women are perverted or over-sexed or confused or predators. I think we need to clear up the definition before we can really go any farther and show that there have been precisely zero documented instances of a transgender person molesting anyone in a public restroom.
21 April 2016 @ 11:18 am
Just me, at work, tweetin' and visiting this old beloved RA LiveJournal between jobs.

Reston is kind of overcast today as I look out on Sunset Hills Blvd.

T. is at her PC browsing sites. I'm a little bored and wish I had some local furs to converse with, and maybe share a lunch.

A local red panda lets me know when his roommate/condo owner is away on a trip so I can stay at his place and not have to drive the distance home every night. The couch there is actually more comfortable than Kefkah's was when I was stationed in Frederick and crashed at his place a couple times each week. The next time is coming soon in May. He's a good fur, a musician, and a Bernie supporter like me, so we have good conversations.

I've been having some good contact online with Papabear, as he's known in the fandom. You may have heard of him--he runs a great advice column for furries. It makes me wish I was more fully aware of the help he gives when others had come to me for advice. I do the best I can, but sometimes it just doesn't work out. Anyway, we've reciprocated with links to each other on our websites. Ours is on the Resources page, so go check him out.

I had another MRI done earlier in the week and just got news today that everything looks okay. They were just ruling out the possibility of me having a tumor pressing on my inner ear, which I don't. So it all comes back to what they originally suspected, Meniere's disease which has caused severe bouts of vertigo. The main treatment is a low salt diet and prescribing diuretics. I already don't intake a lot of salt, generally less than 2500mg a day, but they want me down around 1000 which is near impossible, but I'm trying. The good news, I haven't had a vertigo attack since April 3rd. There for awhile, I was getting a bad one once every 1.5 to 2 weeks.

My life journey has brought me to a place I never thought I would be, a life that is pretty much devoid of organized religion or conventional Christian faith. This hasn't changed my passion for standing up for others' rights to embrace their faith and their sexuality and/or gender identity. I still care about right and wrong, and I'm probably more thankful than ever for the beautiful things, both large and minutely small that life has to offer.

If you embrace a faith, make sure it's your own and not someone else's expectation of what they want you to be. Remember that faith is personal. Don't let anyone tell you you're wrong for believing the way you do. You follow your path.
Posted this to my LJ, Jarrel asked me to share it here

The same lady who did that amazing animation of a werewolfess dancing and singing to Kei$ha's Die Young recently released this

02 April 2016 @ 07:54 am
Lot's of furs I know including Arkers are at Furry Weekend Atlanta right now. Do any of you have fursuit pics of yourselves or your friends you'd like to share here? We'd love to see them!

Renee and I are going down to her parents' this weekend to celebrate Easter a week afterwards because of some schedule conflicts of extended family members last week. I'll be trying not to over-eat. Speaking of fursuit pics, I can't fit into mine anymore. I've always had trouble with metabolism and trying to lose any weight at all, but it all somehow got even harder after my gall bladder surgery.

As the Beatles said, 'it's been a long, cold, lonely winter' but what do you have planned for this summer?
27 March 2016 @ 09:17 am
All over Mexico, there are many yearly traditions associated with Holy days throughout the year and Easter is no exception.

Their one tradition of burning effigies of Judas Iscariot was altered slightly this year as the effigies purposefully took on another likeness.

Huff Post article

I probably should admit here that at one point while reading, I laughed so hard I was crying, and I wanted to share this with a group who might also find this amusing. It's my hope that this doesn't taint the atmosphere of anyone's Easter / Resurrection Day's family or religious tradition, but I think it's important to have a glimpse into other cultures' observances. ;)
Reading this article just makes me sad. There's more drama here over a nice yearly Sunrise Service that was ultimately cancelled than the goings-on at any furry convention. The chaplain was being a condescending ass too, and I'm glad he's been fired. But the good news, the church at the center of the controversy is offering a solution. (The bolds are mine)...

By Lisa Gutierrez

After 16 years, there will be no citywide Easter sunrise service in Stockton, Calif., this weekend.

The Christian leadership group that sponsors the event called it off because it doesn’t want any more of the bad publicity that it has had since late January.

That’s when Jim Reid, senior chaplain for the city’s police department, sent an invitation for the event to the Rev. Terri Miller, whose Valley Ministries church has many LGBT members.

Miller had never been invited to participate in the event. But the pleasant surprise didn’t last long.

She was later uninvited.

According to Fox 40 in Sacramento, Reid followed up his invitation with an email in early February telling Miller that she’d been invited by mistake.

“Your congregation are welcome to attend but we do not feel it would be appropriate to have you sitting on the platform with the pastors as we are diametrically different in our view of scripture when it comes to homosexuality.” Reid wrote.

The email made Miller angry, and she made it public. The police department placed Reid on paid leave and later fired him.

“What he wrote in there does not match what we stand for as a police chaplaincy nor as the Stockton Police Department,” the Rev. Michael Delgado with the police department told local media.

The department also apologized to Miller, who said she wanted to use the flap to educate people about acceptance and inclusion.

So even though she wasn’t welcome to sit with other pastors on the main platform, she made plans to attend the service with her wife.

Which could have been the end of the story. Until it wasn’t.

Earlier this month the Stockton Leadership Foundation, the group of community leaders and pastors that sponsors the Easter service, canceled it.

In a statement, the group pointed out the “large time and resource investment” that the event required.

“This investment has always been worthwhile because we believe there is no more powerful message than Jesus crucified, buried and resurrected on the third day,” the group wrote.

“This year SLF believes that this transforming message will be overshadowed as a result of the well-publicized clergy invitations. Now the discussions throughout our city and in our publications do not emphasize the core message of Easter – Jesus’ resurrection.”

Reid, who serves on the group’s board of directors, told the Stockton Record that the controversy would have created a “media frenzy” and inferred that it was Miller’s fault that the service had attracted public attention.

“I felt it would defeat the purpose of having it,” Reid said. “I didn’t think it would bring glory and honor to God. I was in favor of canceling.”

Stockton assemblywoman Susan Eggman told The Record she hoped a more inclusive sunrise service would rise out of the controversy.

LGBT publications that have weighed in have couched the story in pointed terms: Stockton is the town that canceled Easter so it wouldn’t have to pray alongside gay people.

“It’s just disheartening to me that here these folks claim to be Christians … and are squandering this opportunity because of some perceived differences instead of uniting under the banner of what this day is supposed to mean,” said Miller.

The Record’s editorial board weighed in as well, calling the group’s decision “unfortunate.”

“Much has been written and said about Stockton’s reputation over the years,” the paper wrote. “Shuttering a community Easter sunrise service isn’t going to help that ‘rep.’

“But if an inclusive replacement is accomplished, then Stockton is the city that puts aside intolerance for Lent — and well beyond.”

Miller’s church has decided to host its own sunrise Easter service at 6 a.m. in downtown Stockton; pancakes later at the church.

Everyone is invited.

The article
14 March 2016 @ 10:55 pm
Fluffy, shiny, scampery Happy Birthday wishes to jarrellwoods! Blessings and peace be upon you now and tomorrow, my friend. /^|..|^\