Central Voice

Linking LGBT Communities In Central Pennsylvania And Beyond

Do you enjoy finding new writers to read? I do and I also enjoy sharing those people with my friends and readers.

For that reason I'm going to be sharing the writing of several people from time-to-time this year with you.

One such person is my friend and Unity minister, Rev. Ellen Debenport. Her blog for this week is below and speaks to me on a very deep level.

Admitting where we are instead of pretending everything is great is one of the foundation principles I believe in. I hope you'll enjoy Rev. Ellen's viewpoint this week. I'll be back next week - Have a great weekend!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

GO AHEAD. FEEL BAD.

We in Texas pride ourselves on many things, but tolerating cold is not one of them.
 
When it was 16 degrees Sunday morning, any number of the people I know just abandoned the idea of getting out. No church, no lunch, no afternoon plans. They hunkered down to ride it out.

Which got me thinking about how often we let outside circumstances dictate our lives.

I keep insisting we can choose what and how to think, rather than reacting to what’s outside of us. But sometimes circumstances matter.

When it’s 16 degrees, you will need a coat, no matter how elevated your consciousness is.

When someone you love dies, you most likely will be sad.

If your money runs out, it’s hard not to worry.

Just how reasonable is it to expect yourself not to react to outer circumstances?

THE GOOD AND THE BAD
 
Some circumstances are so fabulous, we wouldn’t want to miss them.

Falling in love.

Bringing home a new baby.

Watching a full moon rise.

Listening to the pounding surf as you walk on the beach.

If it’s permissible to enjoy the parts of life we label good, then why can’t we have a human reaction to the things we call bad?

I’m afraid that, in the name of spirituality, a lot of us have convinced ourselves we should never have a negative feeling. Or if we do feel bad, we feel guilty about it. Like spiritual failures.

So, once and for all, please let me officially give you permission to feel bad!

Go ahead and feel sad about your losses, scared about the uncertainties in your life, annoyed with people or events that disrupt your peace, regretful of past mistakes, or downright angry about a layoff or an election or a football game.

Even if, in some metaphysical way, you created or attracted whatever has happened, you are entitled to your feelings about it.
 
HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?
 
Right about now, someone is thinking, “Yes, but I don’t want to wallow in it.”

Wallowing gets a bad rap.

I will grant you, some people get stuck in their stories. They relish thinking of themselves as victims. They rehash the same events over and over for years, refusing to feel better or move into a new point of view.

Most of us, however, will get sick of hearing ourselves talk before we wallow very long. We will naturally be ready to move on.

And at the same time, why should we insist on recovering from a major event quickly? Life can really, really hurt. Grief and recovery take as long as they take, and it’s different for each person.

I fear those of us trying to live from a higher consciousness sometimes talk ourselves out of our feelings.  And we miss an important part of the human journey.

Why do you suppose we came into human form? We wanted to delve into human life, right?

And doesn’t human life have its ups and downs, good and bad, easy and difficult? Doesn’t the prince always have to slay a few dragons before he can kiss the princess?

WHAT HARM IS A LITTLE NEGATIVITY?
 
I’m not encouraging you to feel bad just for the sake of feeling bad.

I’m encouraging you not to miss the human adventure.

Maybe someday, after we all are living in divine consciousness, there will be no more tears or anger or disappointment. But I’m increasingly convinced we are here to experience all that human life has to offer, not to transcend it.

It probably won’t all be pleasant, but it all will be part of your growth and learning.

And when we compare notes on the Other Side, I suspect the tough times on Earth will make some of the best stories, give us the biggest laughs and leave us grateful we had the courage to live as humans for a while.

Even when it was freezing cold in Texas.

PS - The beautiful picture of icicles at the top of this blog was taken by my friend Laura Shepard in Idaho, not Texas. But once it gets below about 40, this picture represents how it feels to us.

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Local Author's Book Makes Top 10 Gay Non-fiction List

Called a "must read," Michael Long's book on gay pioneer Frank Kameny has been chosen as one of the Top 10 gay, non-fiction books for 2014. Gay Is Good: The Life and Letters of Gay Rights Pioneer Franklin Kameny by the Elizabethtown College professor is a "must-read for anyone interested in the history of the gay rights movement” says Publishers Weekly.

Harvard University's Michael Bronski, a staple in the world of gay history, said: “The LGBT movement has been blessed with an amazing array of passionate, provocative, colorful, dedicated, and sometimes infuriating women and men. Frank Kameny is certainly one of the most important. Michael Long’s magnificent book captures the breadth of the movement and the specificity of Kameny’s life and importance.”

Long tells Central Voice about his editing of Kameny's historically rich letters, 150 letters from 1958 to 1975, that reveal some of the early stirrings of today’s politically powerful LGBT movement. The letters are lively and colorful because they are in Kameny’s inimitable voice, a voice that was consistently loud, echoing through such places as the Oval Office, the Pentagon, and the British Parliament, and often shrill, piercing to the federal agency heads, military generals, and media personalities who received his countless letters. Long is the author and editor of several books on politics, religion, and civil rights. He is the editor, most recently, of Beyond Home Plate: Jackie Robinson on Life after Baseball.

Central Voice: What has the response been to your work on Kameny? from the academic community? from the LGBT community?

Michael Long: The book has just been released, but the response thus far has been so positive. Kameny's close friends, like Charles Frances and Bob Witech of Washington, DC, have been generous in their praise of the book.

 

CV: Some advocates are outright sending the book to others?

ML: Malcolm Lazin of Equality Forum has decided to send the book to leading LGBT activists across the country. Early reviews have also been positive, identifying the book as a "must read." I'm pleased about this mostly because it helps to advance the rich and inimitable legacy of Frank Kameny. This of us who fight for LGBT rights stand on his shoulders, and the book helps us understand how incredibly broad his shoulders were. 

CV: Currently, there is lots of dialogue about the intersections of race and LGBT issues. What are your thoughts?

ML: One of the most important things about Kameny is that early on he, like Edward Sagarin and others, identified gays and lesbians as an oppressed minority. That was no small move, and it allowed him to analyze discrimination against gays and lesbians as somewhat akin to discrimination against people of color. It also helped him articulate the need for civil rights and liberties for gays and lesbians early on.

CV: Wasn't Kameny an early petitioner of the US Supreme Court?

ML: His 1961 petition to the US Supreme Court--a landmark document--did exactly that while at the same time telling the justices that homosexuality was moral. It's breathtaking material. Kameny also turned to the civil rights movement for inspiration and instruction for advancing civil rights for oppressed gays and lesbians. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Stokely Carmichael are among those who influenced his deliberate efforts to politicize the homophile movement and turn it into a political power that politicians could no longer ignore. So Kameny actually helped to create the intersections of race and LGBT issues that we continue to experience today.

SIDEBAR

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Things you may not know about Franklin Kameny -

*During the height of the Lavender Scare, openly fought the US government for firing him because he was gay (1958).

*Led a long campaign to force the US Civil Service Commission to permit the hiring of gays and lesbians individuals for federal jobs, including those requiring security clearances (1957 on).

*Filed first US Supreme Court petition arguing that gays and lesbians were an oppressed minority deserving equal treatment under law, and that homosexuality was moral (1961).

*Co-founded the Mattachine Society of Washington, the nation’s first organization dedicated solely to securing civil rights and liberties for gays and lesbians (1961).

*Co-founded regional and national gay and lesbian groups designed to politicize the movement and secure and advance political power in government and civil society (1963 on).

*Organized the first White House picketing by a group seeking civil rights and liberties for gays and lesbians. Similar picketing soon followed in front of the US Civil Service Commission, Independence Hall in Philadelphia, and the Pentagon (1965).

*Criticized numerous leading media personalities, including Ann Landers, Johnny Carson, and Rona Barrett, for their anti-gay views (1966 on).

*Staged protests (“zaps’) for gay rights at American Psychiatric Association conventions, eventually forcing the APA to delist homosexuality as a mental disorder (1971 on).

*Became the first openly gay candidate for the US Congress (1971).

*Acted as counsel to numerous gays and lesbians facing discrimination in the US military and served as a driving force behind the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

 

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