Tag Archives: marriage

Two Students

When I was first hired as the vocal music teacher by Natomas Charter School in March 2001, I told the executive director that I would only commit to staying for five years at the most.  I had other adventures ahead and believed that classroom teaching was not my passion. Then, I met the children.

In August 2001, I was introduced to the seventh graders who would become “my class,” the Class of 2007.  I was assigned the role as their class advisor with the 7th grade English teacher.  During our first discussion, they said they had heard rumors that most classes had class advisors come and go throughout their time in school, and how they hoped the two of us would stay until they graduated. Seeing their wide, hopeful eyes, and getting caught up in the emotion of the moment, I promised them that I would stay until they graduated. There went any hope of leaving after five years, because they would stay at Charter for six years.  I had already completed my first school year, so this would mean I would be there at least seven years.   And stay I did.

Through difficult, major events in my life, I stayed.  Through challenges with my first line supervisor, I stayed.  Through everything, I stayed until they walked across the stage to receive their diplomas.  I couldn’t have been more proud of our young people.  The person who began the journey as class advisor with me left to start a family, so there were new faces along the way with whom I shared the responsibilities and joys of these fine young people.

The truth is, I don’t know if my contribution to this class was very dynamic, but if nothing else, I was there at every class meeting, at their senior prom, at every major event in which they participated.  As their senior year came to a close, I was more than ready to leave my position, but was asked to stay another year, hoping things would get better.  I reluctantly agreed.  It was 2007, my children had graduated, and I thought my job was over.  I stayed one more year, but by the end of 2008, I could not stay any longer.  Things had changed so dramatically that I knew it was time for me to move onto another leg of my journey, so I resigned, and went into private practice as a vocal teacher.

My job with this class wasn’t over, though.  Recently, I ran into two of my students who told me that they had gotten to know each other in their senior year and now, almost five years later, they were getting married.  I was so happy for them because they are genuinely lovely individuals, and I knew they would make a marvelous couple; animated, but marvelous.  Several weeks later, I got a message from them saying the minister they had originally engaged had flaked on them.  They reflected to me that they were just as glad, because this person clearly had no appreciation for who they were as individuals.  They said they remembered that I was an ordained minister and wondered if I would do the honors of marrying them, especially since I had known them for nearly half their lives.  Needless to say, I was thrilled at the offer and jumped at the chance.

Today is their rehearsal for tomorrow’s wedding.  I will be in the presence of not just two, but six of my students who will stand on the altar as bride, groom, maid of honor, best man, and two honor attendants from the NCS Class of 2007.  Clearly, my job is not over.  The history we built together has moved beyond the classroom to their adulthood.  It seems as though I will continue to watch my young people grow up, get married, have children, perhaps even grandchildren if I live that long, remembering that first day in seventh grade when they sat looking at me with those big, hopeful eyes.  Once again, I get to see two of them with big, hopeful eyes, only this time gazing at one another seeing their future together in one another.

My students have gone to prestigious universities, begun marvelous careers in their chosen fields, and started families.  They are fully adults now at the age of 23 beginning their own adventures in life.  I am so proud of them all and hope to watch as they have their precious moments grow in quality and quantity.

Sexuality vs. Love

All hearts can love.

As we continue having debates regarding rights, freedoms, and full citizenship for people in same-gender relationships, we may want to conserve our energy and make our discussions more efficient and accurately reflective of every type of relationship.

As I watched Current TV, the channel developed by former vice-president Al Gore, and Illinois senator, Al Franken (D), I heard a woman say that these debates, especially those going toward the U.S. Supreme Court, are made more challenging because the word sex is involved.   The word to which she was referring was, “Homosexuality.”

If it’s really an issue, why not use a different word?  The Latin word, “homo,” means, “same.”  “Hetero,” mean “different.” The Latin root, “amor,” means, “love.” 

Homoamorous means two people of the same gender love one another. 

Heteroamorous means two people of different genders love one another.

So, why not change the word.  It’s not as though we’re using ancient or sacred words to describe our relationships.  “Homosexuality” was coined on May 6, 1869 by Karoly Maria Benkert, a 19th Century Hungarian physician, who first broke with traditional thinking when he suggested that people are born homosexual and that it is unchangeable.  With that belief as his guide, he fought the Prussian legal code against homosexuality that he described as having “repressive laws and harsh punishments (Conrad and Angel, 2004).” 

One would suspect that Dr. Benkert would appreciate this change in lexicon so that we change our focus in this debate from sex to love.  John and Frank are not two people in sex.  They are two people in love.  Deborah and Sheila are not two women who spend their lives sexing each other, they are two women loving each other.  This is especially true because homosexuality has been demedicalized in so many ways.

If we’re going to have to have this debate in the first place, let’s speak accurately about the people involved.  We are homoamorous people.  We are two people of one gender who are in love.  Those in opposite gender relationships are heteroamorous. 

How complicated can that be?  If I were to approach someone and ask them if they’d like a slice of bread, their first question is likely, “What kind is it?”  As a people, we love clarity.  Homosexuality and heterosexuality are simply not clear enough terms for the breadth of our relationship.  Homoamorosity and heteroamorosity are clear winners when it comes to describing the relationships with which I am most familiar.

Sexuality is an important, if not a terribly time consuming part of most marriage relationships.  It helps motivate our interest in a particular person whose gender is consistent with what we prefer; however, that, too, is not always the case. 

Is it unthinkable that two people can have a relationship that is purely emotional in form, without sex, who continue to love one another nonetheless?  Ask many people who are of a certain age. 

Homoamorosity and heteroamorosity are not only options for the terms homosexuality and heterosexuality, they might even be the preferred forms given their more emotionally inclusive qualities. 

My mother used to say, when trying to get the direct truth out of me, “Jim, call a spade a spade.”  Although I never played bridge, from which this term comes, I knew what she meant.  Name something as it is.  I now get that message all the more clearly.

Thanks, Mom.



2010, Plato.stanford.edu. Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/homosexuality/

Conrad, P., & Angell, A. (2004). HOMOSEXUALITY AND REMEDICALIZATION. Society, 41(5), 32-39. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

By Any Other Name…

Oddly, I’ve been thinking recently that having someone else’s name is a strange thing to do.  I write, “Oddly,” because I’ve had no fewer than six monikers in my life time.  From earliest to most recent:

Teódolo Conrado Arroyo Herrera (The name my mother would have bestowed upon me had she not given me up for adoption.  Both names were after my paternal and maternal grandfathers.)

Herrera (The name on my very first birth certificate.  This was Mom’s surname.)

Hal (The name given to me by Children’s Home Society before I got adopted.  Look at my face to the right.  Do I honestly look like a Hal to you?)

James Stanley Glica (My adoptive name, after my uncle who introduced my parents and my paternal grandfather.)

James Stanley Chávez-Glica (The name I chose to honor my mother and father.)

James Stanley Chávez Glica-Hernandez (My married name.)

Sometimes, I like to string them all together with my title and degree, just for effect:

Reverend James Stanley Teódolo Conrado Arroyo Herrera Chávez Glica-Hernandez, D.Div.

Come on, say that five times fast.  I dare you.

Anyhoo, after all these name changes, I’m starting to think that my name, which at its core has remained James Stanley Glica since 1959, was enough all along.  I love my mother and the name Chávez for a million reasons, but Glica was the name she chose to use, as well.  My children are all Glica.  I didn’t take my ex-wife’s name when we got married.  I have to admit that it’s because I might have become James Daw-Glica.  Uh, no, thank you.  Go ahead.  Re-syllablize it yourself. 

Did you have fun?  

We could talk all about the sociological reasons why wives originally took their husband’s names.  Yes, class, ownership is one reason.  We could talk about the standardization of second class citizenship afforded women until relatively recently, even on a letter:

“Mrs. Herbert Smith”

Either this woman’s parents need a solid chastising, or this poor woman has lost her name.   Thankfully, I, of course, would not be Mr. David Hernandez.  That would be silly because my husband is Mr. David Hernandez.  I’m Mr. James Glica-Hernandez.  Yet, I digress.

Am I any less married if I were to use only Glica?  No.  Plenty of people are overwhelmed by their wedded bliss while still maintaining their names of birth or adoption.   Look at my husband.  It’s my guess that he thinks Glica is a strange name and not one he wants to carry around the rest of his life.  Hernandez is simple.  Sure it has three syllables, but everyone can spell it, knows where it’s from, and almost always knows someone else by that same name.   I only know this because on some of my identifying information, I use, James C. Hernandez.

“Ooooooooohhh!,”  the young, ebullient fellow behind the counter squeals, “I actually know two different James Hernandezes…ez…ezzzzzzzzzzz…  [Author’s note: you must visualize here a young fellow with a face that I once heard comedian, Dov Davidov, describe as having smelled freshly-baked cookies]. Do you know either of them?”

For goodness sake.   And, this coming from a boy named, Myke Johnson?  (Do you see how that’s different? Kewl, huh?)  Ugh!

 What I’ve realized, though, is that these various incarnations of my name are like Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs back into my gingerbread house of memory.  As someone whose had two small strokes already and probably will have another one eventually, any tools that amplify my memory are good tools, indeed. 

“Was that pre-Chavez or post-Chavez?  When did we meet them, before- or after-Hernandez?”  It’s worked a few times, quite honestly.   The only thing is I’ve been a Chavez longer than I haven’t and I’ve wanted to be a Hernandez since nearly the time I first met my husband a dozen years ago.   So, the muddiness continues. 

After it’s all said and done, I guess I’m still Little Jimmy Glica from McCloud and Dunsmuir, California,  no matter whose grandfather I’ve become in the last 50 years.  I like it that way.  I’m proud of my entire name of birth, adoption, and marriage, and the paths I’ve taken to receive these beautiful names; however, like at the core of my name, the core of my spirit remains the same: a happy, loving little boy who loves to see people smile, sing, and dance. 

Some things, as it’s said, never change after all.

Alpha Inventions Ranking

The Invisible Gay Dollar

What if on June 9, 2010, (6/9 for those who enjoy a naughty giggle), the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community stopped buying anything across the country?  What would happen to the American economy?

In very loose numbers, it is estimated that in 2006, $660 billion were spent by the LGBT community in 2006.  That number is expected to rise to $835 billion in 2011.  I’ve seen numbers that indicate as much as over two trillion dollars will be spent by the LGBT community in 2012.  Even if any of these numbers are off by a few billion, the numbers are truly staggering.

The LGBT community has the power to put a dent in our economy, and yet, we don’t know our own strength.  If we don’t know it, how can anyone else feel that power?

It makes sense to validate that most efficient force by damming up the economic river for just a moment in time. 

Here is the plan for June 9, 2010:

Every member of the LGBT and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) communities will commit to:

1.  not purchase one item of food, clothing, equipment, or anything else on this day, including eating out or buying a cup of coffee;

2.  not buy or trade one stock or bond in any stock market in the world;

3.  withdraw 0.1% of your money from every account you own (e.g. If you have $1,000.00, you would withdraw $1.00 and if you have $100, you would withdraw $0.10);

4.  not donate one item to charity;

5.  not go to work or school for at least half a day;

6.  not use a computer or cell phone for one day;

7.  not use any electricity or gas that is not life-preserving;

8.  not drive anywhere in your automobile;

9.  do whatever else you feel is appropriate, healthy, and safe to make an economic statement about the strength of the LGBT community;

10. Finally, to make June 9 a day of silence to reflect the silence our country is asking us to provide regarding our needs, including equal access to marriage, health care, law, education, and employment. 

Be sure to contact your legislator by June 8 to advise them of your intentions. 

We have seven-and-a-half months to prepare.  In that time, we can clearly create the environment that well over half of our country wishes from us.  This will certainly let them know, “Watch what you wish for!”

What happens if the LGBT and PFLAG community disappeared and we took our money and expertise with us?  We’d have a pretty good idea about the impact of that situation, wouldn’t we?

If you’re interested in participating, please contact me on my Facebook page, June 9, 2010 – Invisible Gay Day.

Some Perspective on the DOJ and DADT and DOMA

If Nathan Lane was President of these here United States of America (with Harvey Fierstein as Vice President, and Hedda Lettuce as U.S. Attorney General), his administration would have been required to support the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) as it was for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in response to a court battle.  It is the law that the Department of Justice must always file friends of the court/amicus briefs that support current law.  We should not be getting upset about this amicus brief.  It’s a non-issue.

What should have gone along with this brief, however, is a statement from the President indicating his focus on getting a quick legislative repeal of DOMA.  His speech at the National Equality March did give us more hope; however,that’s how this should have been handled in the first place. 

It’s frustrating to realize that we are having issues regarding civil rights in our third century of existence as a country; we, whose ancestors left England, and many other countries for that matter, for freedom. 

hillbillyI remember thinking as a teacher about students who took a long, long time to get the concepts I was putting forth, “Bless their pointed little heads.” 

Sometimes, that’s the way I feel about us as a nation.

“Bless our pointed little heads.”

My point is, let’s stay focused on our next move and not get bogged down in those things we cannot change.

Stay focused, people!

Communication in Action

communication_handsFor plain people, communication can be challenging.   Even with whatever moderate skills I possess in public speaking and writing, apparently, within the boundaries of a personal relationship, I am one of those plain people.

Too many assumptions, a desire for peace, or the emergence of protective narcissism can keep two people in a relationship from speaking their minds and their hearts.   What many of us don’t realize is that the level of communication in an intimate relationship is the glucometer of that pairing’s well-being.  Insidious silence can create a hypoglycemic stupor that can be fatal to what might otherwise be a healthy partnership.

Often, we look to the other person with whom we are involved to do the work of opening their mouths.  The irony is that what we delusionally want is for our significant other to speak when we are the ones who actually have something to say.   It’s like expecting  the stove to put the vegetables in the pan.  It can’t happen.  If we have something to say, then we must take the responsibility of saying it.

What keeps us from opening our mouths?  The reasons vary from the erroneous to the dangerous. 

We can be afraid of not being heard or understood.  There may be a concern that what we have to say may dramatically jeopardize our relationship.  At the extreme end, we are afraid that we could risk our very safety by addressing our upset.

Let it be clearly stated that if we are truly afraid for our health and safety if we were to discuss a challenge in our relationship, then we should immediately call the National Domestic Violence Hotline.  It should never be a physical risk to maintain a relationship or speak one’s mind or heart.  One must get out immediately.  There are always other options.

For the rest of us, even at the brink of divorce or separation, there are a few things we can remember that will help us to get to the crux of the issue while still being respectful and honoring our partner’s free will and separate adulthood.

1.  Remember that you are speaking to someone whom you love or have loved.  Often, we get caught treating our partner as though they are the enemy.  At one time, at least, we were both on the same page about the direction we wanted to go in our life together.  If our desire is to get back to that point, we must speak with love always, even when we disagree.

2.  Find one thing positive to say before you start complaining.  It happens to all of us that the first thing out of our mouths is anger, frustration, hurt, or some other ugliness.  If we take the time to find one loving thing to say before we express the rest of it, the benefits are two-fold: we assist ourselves in focusing on the positive and loving, and subsequently, we open the door to their hearts, so the likelihood of them hearing us is more effective.

3.  Think about what is truly bothering you.  We must be sure to think through what we are truly trying to say before we blurt out purposefully or accidentally hurtful things just so that we can vomit out our frustrations.  We are often not angry at the event  that triggered our diatribe.  It goes to an underlying cause that is our responsibility to identify to the listener. 

4.  Keep it down to a dull roar.  Screaming is a slamming door for everyone.  Physiologically, our ears can take only so much intensity in sound.  The moment we begin screaming at one another, the other person stops hearing us.  It is a natural protective device.  There is nothing wrong with using intense inflections in our voices to get our point across, but if we remember that we love this other person and that we have a goal in this conversation, then our rational minds will help us communicate more effectively.

5.  Remember that you are speaking to an adult.  If the person across from was was smart enough to marry us, then clearly they are intelligent enough to understand what we have to say.  We must assume their intellect and adulthood.  It brings a level of respect into the conversation that may disappear on a day-to-day basis.  Respect will go a long way toward connecting two people at polar ends of a discussion.

6.  Say what you have to say and then ask a specific question.  If we request from our partner out loud that they simply listen and then respond after we are done, we have agreed to rules that will create an environment for constructive resolution.  “… and that’s how I’ve been feeling.  How are you feeling about what I’ve said?”  With that last question,  we have opened a directed conversation about what is important to us.  Remember that we have invited this conversation.  If, at some point, our partners in this venture have some issues they would like to discuss, they can say so.  Question marks invite conversation.  Periods end a thought.  Angry exclamation points can end a conversation.

7.  State your case clearly.  If we haven’t thought out what it is we want to say, how are we going to be able to communicate it effectively?  Freedom to communicate between two people in a relationship is important, but emitting voluminous vitriol just become we can is not going to be effective.  No one understands rambling.  No one.  The important thing is to take some time to get our thoughts together and then speak the words that get our point across. 

8.  When you have fully communicated your thoughts and feelings, give the other person an opportunity to respond.  It’s important that both people in an environment be focused toward resolution, as well as information provision.  The only way to accomplish these goals is to have both of us in the conversation free to express our thoughts.

9.  Allow enough time to contemplate what has been said.  Often, when we do get up the nerve to communicate, we expect an immediate response from our partner.  It doesn’t always work that way, especially if our partner does not have a facility with language.  They may need time to contemplate what they’ve heard and respond later.  Getting a commitment for them to return to us in a reasonable time, even the next day, so that we can hear their thoughts on the subject, is a constructive and supportive listening technique.

10.  Commit to continuing the conversation until both parties have come to an understanding.  Although it is not always possible for both people to be happy with the outcome, there is always a way to come to an understanding of the situation and alternatives for resolution.   If both people are listening attentively, responding lovingly, and sharing a desired goal of unified action, then eventually we can get to the peaceful, loving result for which we are both ultimately hoping.

11.  Let your word be your bond.  If, and when, at the end of the conversation we have come to a mutual understanding and developed a plan of action with our partners, stand by your word.  Nothing will build trust faster between two people than seeing that our words and actions match. 

These eleven suggestions can help us all in improving our relationships with our partners, and others, as well. 

china20holding20hands20for20portfolio1At the most spiritual level, those around us are simply reflecting our lives as we see them and are experiencing them.   We are all desirous of joy, peace, love, creativity, and construction.  We can find all those things through communication of truth, trust, and triumph over fear.

The real question is, “What priority does my partnership hold in my overall life scheme?”

If the answer is anything other than top priority, our partners are going to know.  Why would anyone want to work as hard as we must in a relationship if we are only going to take second billing to work, extended family, friends, hobbies, pets, or even children. 

When we get on a plane, the flight attendants remind us that in case of emergency, we must put the oxygen masks on ourselves first, then we can help others.  It’s like that in a marriage or partnership of any kind.  We must tell ourselves the truth of the situation, make healthy choices, and take immediate action to resolve the problems. 

Only then can we feel satisfied with the outcome.

Smudges of Life

E. Lynn Harris (6-20-1955 to 7-23-2009)

E. Lynn Harris (June 20, 1955 to July 23, 2007)

When I read my friend, Al’s post about the recent death of E. Lynn Harris, fifty-four-year-old author of insightful books about gay, African-American men in today’s society, I couldn’t help but ponder about the current state of our gay society.

Mr. Harris’  books included, Invisible Life, What Becomes of the Brokenhearted – A Memoir, and, most recently, Basketball Jones.  Mr. Harris used common language to describe the lives of his characters in a way that was accessible to the masses (ask any of the many black women in the hair salons who were his first customers), while describing, as some have said, for the first time lives that would be considered, if heterosexual and white, “normal” by most people’s standards.  His critics have said that his writing was mediocre; however, the fact is that he helped bring to light a specific subculture that many, particularly those in the black community, do not discuss or wish to discuss: the gay man in the African-American subculture.

It seems we are once again returning to the beige comfort of sameness in our culture.  There is a bowl of homogeneity into which we, as a people, are slowly dripping down the sides, one rich culture at a time.  The gay community is no less immune to this process than the asian, latino, european, or african communities have been.

"Invisible Life" by E. Lynn Harris

"Invisible Life" by E. Lynn Harris

There are two periods that can be observed when the largest steps toward our own invisibility have occured.  One was during the 1950’s and 1960’s when sexuality was solely a topic of discussion with regard to police blotters and social stigma.  Gay men were attempting to “pass,” if I may so rudely abscond with a term from the black community, as straight.  With the revolution that erupted during the Stonewall Riots in 1969, much of that changed.

During the 1970’s, free love from the 1960’s became permissable for the gay community, as well,  in a whole new way.  We were out and we were proud… kind of.  That was also the period when I married my now-ex-wife.  The irony, of course, was that I fell in love with her and truly wanted to be married.  We had children and a good life for awhile.  I was only seventeen years old when I married my bride, too young to know what healthy, adult love was.   It was this ignorance that landed me in the discos night after night, trying to find male companionship along the way.

When acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) took hold in the early 1980’s, it became quite clear to all of us that we, the gay folk, were now the pariahs of society.  Those not-so-in-the-know believed the gay community was the filthy underbelly of society that was trasmitting vile diseases and recruiting children for the sole pleasure of the evil, flaming society.

Of course, this description sounds ridiculous to thinking people today; however, this philosophy did reflect the larger culture at the time.   With my impeccable timing, this was exactly the time I chose to enter into the gay community at full bore.  I separated from my wife in 1985.  I continued frolicking with various masculine satyrs of the time, many of whom are now dead, sadly.

Back into the closet many of us went, attempting to avoid our fearful brothers and sisters from crossing the street when we approached or giving us Hollywood kisses and hugs, afraid they would become contaminated by our very presence.  I, too, began actually dating instead of playing.  I worked hard, wore a tie to work, and reared my five children the best I could as a single father.  At certain points, my sexuality simply went on hiatus.

As our education about AIDS and homosexuality broadened, we once again gained a brief foothold into society as a valuable cultural entity, when Ellen Degeneres and Rosie O’Donnell, Lance Bass and Neil Patrick Harris came out of the closet.

In celebration, Mayor Gavin Newsom, (D- San Francisco) decided it was time for gay folk to get married.  He ordered his staff to begin handing out marriage licenses and performing marriages for lesbians and gays.  Yee haw!  The Wild West is wild once again.

As one might expect, these marriages were overturned in the courts and Proposition 8 came to the forefront of our gay consciousness.   Proposition 8, the definition of marriage as being only between a man and a woman, passed.  The LGBT community was once again relegated to the back of the bus.

This time, however, we didn’t go into hiding.   The tack now was to let people know that we are your average Joe’s and Jane’s amongst the many.  We are living perfectly productive, joyful lives in general society.  We have effectively blended in.

E. Lynn Harris was talking about all of us in the gay community, in some ways.  We are all just trying to live our lives plainly and simply within our community.  Some are able to live openly, but for those who cannot do so, we make it work for ourselves and our immediate family.

Perhaps beige is the color to which we must aspire, because it is only in beige that no one says, “Look, he is different.”  The question we, in the gay community, must ask ourselves, is, “Are we different?”

We pay bills, we drive to work and hate the commute, we argue with our mates, we go to PTA meetings with our children, and we shop for food that costs too much.  Isn’t that what everyone does?  Like Italian-Americans, or Egyptian-Americans, or Chinese-Americans, Gay-Americans have an historical context from which our population stems, if not a regional location.  We can maintain our cultural identity without marginalizing ourselves in general society.

Androgynous biracial actor, Jaye Davison

Androgynous biracial actor, Jaye Davison

It is surmised that eventually skin color will return to the original color of medium brown with all the interracial marrying we are doing.  With the acknowledgement of the fluidity in our sexuality, I wonder if we are, in that same way, finding a middle ground where one’s gender and sexuality will not matter as much to the people of our society?

We are increasingly smudging the lines of sexuality, culture and ethnicity more and more all the time.   This could be a good thing.   Perhaps beige is the new white.

First Down and Wonderment

Oakland Raiders

Oakland Raiders

As a man reared in the mountains of Northern California, listening to the trains roll by at the bottom of the hill, accompanied by the gurgle of the Sacramento River where we so often fished, I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that I like football.  After all, I am a guy.

Although I was reared on cultural music, like  jarabes on my mother’s side, and “Jak czybko mijaja chwile,” on my father’s, American football and it’s accompanying fight songs, were as common in my alpine hamlet as mountain biking and snow skiing. 

Most people don’t know this, but I have a letterman sweater from my high school displaying a Block “D” with pins for both football and basketball.  O.K., I admit, it was for being the manager of the teams and not playing either sport.  The sad truth is that when I attended Dunsmuir High School, I didn’t know a first down from a circus clown.  I always got confused about which direction the teams were supposed to run.  For these reasons and many more, it was a good thing I was running the concession stand during the games or playing in the band.  And, contrary to popular belief, I never wanted to be a cheerleader.

Fast forward twenty years to the day I met my future husband, David, a devout, and I mean that in the most religious way, fan of the Raider Nation.  I realized early on that Dave took sports, particularly Oakland Raider football, very seriously, indeed.   Even when it comes to his hair color, David never allows anyone to call his hair grey; it’s silver and black, which, I suppose if one squints, that’s exactly what it is.

In my attempt to avoid joining millions of football widows and widowers, I discovered that I had to learn about football.  I’m college educated.  I’m creative.  I figured there had to be a way to figure this football thing out.  Of course, my constant questions in the beginning drove Dave nuts, but, as I explained to him at the time, it’s either the questions now or hours of distance between us for years to come.  It took him awhile to decide which, to him, would be preferrable, but lovingly he chose to answer my questions.

As we began watching tonight’s game against the Dallas Cowboys, we both silently hoped that this would be the year things would begin turning around for the Silver and Black.  After eleven years of discussing defense and offense with David, recognizing patterns and plays, and being able to identify the positions on the ball field, I realized tonight that although I’m no expert, I am comfortable watching the game with my husband.

Scrutinizing the Raiders tonight, under the official guidance of new Head Coach Tom Cable, after half a season as interim coach, I’m wondering, with a a 31-10 win over the Dallas Cowboys, if this is an omen of the year to come.  I couldn’t help but be impressed by John Marshall’s work as Defensive Coordinator with the team in their surprising ability to make clean plays, limiting the Dallas offense at every turn.   There were several new additions to the roster that looked like promising talent.

For a team like the Cowboys that made it so far in last year’s playoff games, this win over them was a testament to the new focus Oakland is making to turn their gamemanship around.  The Raider plays were tough, tight, and cohesive in a way we haven’t seen for a long, long time.

While JaMarcus Russell did a respectable job in the first quarter given his issues with timing overall, the team was still stymied with a 3 to 10 score at the half.  Up-and-coming quarterback, Brice Gradkowski showed in the later quarters that he could hold his own as he connected with running back Darren McFadden for a 45 yard gallop at the end of the first quarter.  And, it all got better from there.

Still not believable?

Still not believable?

By the end of the game, the Raiders were on top 31 to 10.  It was some of the best news the Raiders organization has had for many years.   Not only did we see a great score at the end of the game against one of last year’s playoff teams, it brought us hope that the coaching staff, team players and organization are ready to usher in a new era of success. 

Of course, only time will tell.  We’ve seen hopeful preseason games in the past that led nowhere.

I suppose that in a marriage, both people change.  I’m talking football and David said, just today, that he wanted to see the movie, “The Time Traveler’s Wife.”    I can’t do anything but smile.

Now, let’s talk about the Sacramento Kings.

Slowly… Slowly

TransgenderSometimes, change happens all at once.  Usually, however, it happens in tiny increments, especially when it comes to social change.

United States Senator Barbara Boxer (California) recently distributed an e-mail indicating that she is joining a bipartisan group of Senators in introducing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) prohibiting  job discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

The passage of ENDA would prohibit all employers, employment agencies, labor organizations and other groups who hire and fire staff from firing, refusing to hire, or discriminating against anyone on the basis of their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity.

This bill has already been supported by high profile national civil rights  and labor organizations and more than fifty Fortune 500 companies.

One must wonder if the significance of this era is being missed by those who feel they are not directly involved in the movement toward the eradication of discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender citizens? 

Is it even possible to realize how important a particular shift in public perception is until after the transition is complete?  The movements to ensure a woman’s right to vote and the acknowledgement of and action against racial discrimination began in small ways, but it wasn’t until the lion’s share of the legislation was passed that we could begin to fathom just how pervasive the blight of hatred and disrespect had been and how far we were stepping ahead.

Senator Boxer’s note to all of us was particularly welcome given that President Obama has shown so little dynamic leadership in relation to repealing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue (DADT) policies currently on the books in our country. 

The best news about ENDA is that it is a bipartisan effort by our Federal legislators.  Nothing gives us greater hope for our future than when, on both sides of the aisle, our elected officials choose to correct a horrible injustice in our laws and societal patterns in such a dynamic way.

Slowly, the awakening is beginning that each person, no matter how they are identified in the little boxes on most forms, has the right to all the freedoms promised in our United States Constitution.  This new effort is one more important step.

Congratulations to everyone involved in the passage of this bill!

A Speech for Some of Us

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

On July 16, 2009, President Barack Obama delivered a dynamic speech on the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the National Assocation for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).  The NAACP has been the seminal and pivotal organization for the phenomenal growth toward civil rights in these United States of America.  A celebration of this organization and its creative and powerful membership is well-deserved and should be celebrated by every group.

There was a cognitive dissonance in hearing the presidents’ words, however, as a gay person in the U.S, particularly considering the NAACP has been a vibrant supporter of gay rights.  His message of hope and personal and social responsbility resonated as so much more shallow than it might have as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue (DADT) policies remain in full force. 

This letter was written and sent today to President Obama in hope that my voice, added to the millions of others supporting full civil rights for all people in the United States, would make a difference. 

Wherever you stand on these topics, I hope this continues to be an on-going discussion and that the gay community, like the African-American community, will find positive movement forward as time passes.

July 16, 2009

Dear President Obama,

Thank you for your dynamic and moving speech on the joyful anniversary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People today.  Your words of hope and movement forward, personal responsibility and support of the national government were both powerful and intimate.

Without taking anything away from your message to the African-American community, it’s just sad that your words do not apply to the gay children in our country.  It truly is a shame.  Your silence is injuring our gay youth every day it continues.  Your daily inaction is another pound of weight of intolerance and neglect on their necks.

Because I believe in your innate goodness and wisdom, I must only conclude that you do not clearly understand that you alone, Mr. President, can change the direction of our national intolerance and neglect toward all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in our country, particularly with regard to the Defense of Marriage Act and the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue policies.  It is your voice that will ring the clarion call for change, change that you promised all Americans during your campaign.

I will continue to remind you of your promise, Mr. President.  Each time you speak, I am listening, along with millions of others like me.  We are waiting. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this correspondence, if you have.  I suspect it will simply end up in a stack of mail that your aides will review, at which time they will mail out a boilerplate response, and feel complete in their task.   Your eyes will be ignorant of my words and your hands will be clean of responsibility for a genuine, personal response to me.
That is not accessibility to you.  That is accessibility to the infrastructure of the White House and no more.

In prayers of gratitude and hope,

James C. Glica-Hernandez
Sacramento, CA