Helen Harrell with Carol Fischer
One of us is a realist and the other an optimist, although we both tend to flip-flop a bit between both philosophies when it comes to decision making and future planning. Suffice it to say that neither of us is a pessimist, and we try to keep the “stiff upper lip” that is necessary to maintain a positive attitude and prevents us from screaming with frustration.
However, upon yearend reflection we must confess to finding ourselves a bit dismayed about the civil rights “victories” for the LGBT community during 2007. Some think it was an eventful year and full of promise for the community, and we would like to celebrate right along with those folks. But when the facts are reviewed, we come up with a slightly more negative result.
We are well aware that some think it is a serious no-no to be negative, but we think it’s more realistic to evaluate what we’ve achieved and where we need to go with a critical eye and not just accept a passing handout that doesn’t really improve image or circumstance just because it feels good at the moment.
Home for the holidays! That simple sentence conjures up many wonderful and fun-filled memories for some of us. But for others the thought instills anxiety, tension and, in some instances, honest-to-goodness fear.
Regardless of how the holidays are celebrated, or perhaps not celebrated, this season is recognized in our culture as a time of refreshment and renewal. A time when friends and relatives come together in some semblance of joyous reunion and pretend to actually like, love and accept one another.
Harsh as it sounds, these gatherings are frequently rife with emotions, based upon a lack of real understanding. It's almost as if there is a security in commonality, and the group unity is dependent upon similarity.
Ever wake up in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning with waves of panic washing over you or a tight knot in the middle of your stomach?
We feel certain that most of our readers have suffered from such stress-related symptoms from trying to meet deadlines or maintain expectations in school, on the job or even in relationships.
Our heads spin while we try to keep the demands of work and careers in balance with some semblance of a social and family life.
Remember that word game we used to play when we were children? The one where we picked a word and repeated it over and over as fast as we could? The purpose was to see how fast we could speak and still correctly pronounce the word.
We would laugh ourselves silly at some of the sounds that came out of our mouths. All harmless play, but we also noticed an additional result. The more a word or phrase was repeated, the more the meaning seemed to become blurry.
And we have to wonder, is it really true that words spoken often enough can lose their sense of purpose and meaning?
Take the word "diversity," for instance. Now there’s a word that has certainly been overused and possibly become blurry in meaning or context. It seems that everywhere we turn we hear things like “We need more diversity,” “We have lots of diversity,” “We are diversified,” “We can’t hold onto diversity.”
It has been said that politics is not for the faint of heart, and while that is certainly true enough, we also think it takes personal courage to step into any leadership position. Once the spotlight is on the victor, supporters seem to fade into the background, and the critics step forward in droves to pounce on the slightest infraction.
Freedom of speech allows for all sides to be heard, but when does critique become cruel, endangering the entire fabric? There's a fine line between criticism and slander, and it seems that sometimes our society is teetering away from critical evaluation while leaning toward jeering for its own sake.
Like good Americans we see this happening and want to assign blame. It has to be someone else's fault, right? Well, maybe not. Maybe we just like to see our leaders and heroes topple, and perhaps we relish gossip so much that harming the individual becomes more important than potentially destroying the whole.
We're sure that our readers are familiar with the saying "sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never harm me."
While this adage seems to have fallen out of use among the younger generations, we still hear our mothers' voices using this bit of questionable wisdom when advising us how to cope with school-yard taunts, some of which were mean-spirited and some not intentionally so.
Questionable logic indeed, but it did help us deal with the fact that physical harm was the real threat and that thoughtless words were to be dismissed because they reflected more poorly on the source than on the victim. There was always an implication that the speaker was ignorant or insensitive, not to be taken seriously.
We've been thinking a lot about discrimination lately. Not that that is something new for us, but our attention has been drawn to this issue a bit more than usual, and we've been pondering why.
Perhaps it is the increased media focus upon all of the wannabe presidential candidates jockeying for front-runner position. While the majority are white males, it's nice to see a woman and a black man in the running, and we think they might make a good team if they can balance their ideologies and, of course, one of them would have to settle for second position if they did manage to grab that gold ring of power.
Or maybe it's the change in several university administrations that went from a reflection of color back to mostly all white and male.
Want to know one of the fastest and surest ways to become a social outcast, while alienating your friends and sometimes losing your family network?
In case you don’t know, all you have to do is let folks know that you are a lesbian – or gay, or bisexual or transgender, and you will discover that the very fabric of your personal, cultural environment was made of a puff of air.
Poof, it’s gone, and there you are standing alone on a precipice of guilt and fear.
Who doesn't love a parade? Especially those colorful and upbeat parades that celebrate the joys of life and confirm our existence?
The upcoming summer months afford parade lovers the opportunity to enjoy many events that reflect and honor various community values. During the month of June the LGBT community celebrates pride with parades, picnics, marching bands and family gatherings.
Are hate crimes legislation and protections really necessary, or are they just another tiresome demand born of the homosexual agenda (whatever that is!)? Is torturing and beating someone, possibly to death, simply because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender more significant than the same crime committed in a personal conflict, family feud or a burglary gone wrong?
We believe it is, because intent as a motivating factor in behavior matters, and the rehabilitation (oops punishment) should fit the crime. While we find it ironic that there has to be a debate about protecting a group of citizens, it's even more ironic that there are those who dismiss attacks upon individuals based upon gender identity or relational commitments as just another crime.
Hate crimes, or those crimes committed against a certain group or individual because of race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, philosophy or sexual or gender identity are real and on the increase.