In response to Shane’s “It Could Happen to You . . . “

8 05 2012

Death is hard enough.  Imagine your  significant other  dies, but you don’t have any rights, because you never got married or you never could get married.  Shane knows exactly what that means, he lived it. He  shows us what his life used to be. His happy life with his partner Tom. And what happens when it’s taken all away—even the chance to grieve  like everyone else.

Watch his 10 minute video and share it. Make this video go viral.

http://youtu.be/pR9gyloyOjM

Press the LIKE button for  EqualLoveEqualRights on Facebook.

http://www.facebook.com/EqualLoveEqualRights

I’ve said this before. We all have a 100% chance of dying. None of us knows when or where. So it’s best to be prepared for it. Just a little bit. I’m not talking about buying a cemetery plot and having your name carved into stone years before you actually make it into the ground. That creeps me out.  I’m talking about taking precautions for your family.

What if you’re still alive, but in a coma ( unable to speak or move, unaware of your surroundings), who would make medical decisions for you? Are you sure? Do you have it writing? Not something you scribbled on a McDonald’s napkin. That doesn’t count. Unless you have it in writing, your next of kin will be your voice.  They get to talk with the doctors to determine your treatment plan. How long you stay on the ventilator. Whether or not your organs get donated.  Whether or not you’ll get to live out the rest of your life as a vegetable with a feeding tube.

Those same next of  kin will be making your financial decisions while you’re in a coma or dead. They’ll get to divvy up your belongings and have an estate auction.  Whose name is on the house? The car? What about your pet?

Don’t leave your loved one alone and unprepared to fight your homophobic, insensitive and/or greedy family.  Make your wishes known today. Get it in writing with witnesses. Go to the Notary Republic. See a lawyer.  Your partner could lose their house, business or life savings because of your inability to see your own mortality.

Shane is right. It could happen to you.  It happened to me. I was only 25. Just because you’re young, does not make you immune to mortality. I was lucky. I might have been only a roommate, but at least I got to go to the funeral.

Don’t wait until marriage is legal. GLBTQ community  get your shit together.  Fight for equality, but see a lawyer!





Like The Waltons

6 02 2012

Do you remember The Walton’s? http://youtu.be/sYyIPbPAQ2Y    It was on from 1971-1981 and the reruns played forever. It was about this large family that lived in the Virginia Mountains during  The Depression.  Grandma, Grandpa, Ma & Pa and their 6 children all lived under 1 roof, struggling to survive. It was narrated by the oldest son John Boy who became a writer. At the close of every show they would all say goodnight to each other. “Good night John Boy.” “Good night LIzbeth.”

Imagine a family like the Waltons only instead of living in the Virginia Mountains, they live in the North Woods during the current Recession. They are The Walnuts.  Grandma, Grandpa and Pa died years ago. John Boy (we’ll call him Macademia Walnut) smoked too many cigarettes and never published any  best sellers. He died too. Imagine Mary Beth never left home because she developed a gambling habit and lost her house to creditors. We’ll call her Almond.  And Elizabeth  became an alcoholic and doesn’t come around very much anymore. Her name is Pistachio.  Jim Bob never left home either—we’ll name him Chestnut. He has a polysubstance abuse problem and can’t keep his dick in his pants.  His 2 illegitimate  daughters live there too,  PineNut & BrazilNut.  They are practically adults themselves, but they are more interested in growing  weed  in Grandma’s backwoods. Olivia would be  Grandma Haze..  As for the other children Erin, Jason, and Ben…well Pa Walton had been busy with his other wife and family in a different state. That’s when he was out “getting work.”   And imagine the Walnut family instead of being human; they are a large family of squirrels.

Grandma Hazel  was an aging matriarch. She did the best that she could with what she had. Even when Pa Walnut had been alive, he was very rarely home.   He would send postcards from Idaho and Oregon. Sometimes he would send a little money, but it wasn’t enough.  Not only did Hazel have to raise the children on her own, she had to work to provide for her family.  Just when Hazel was used to the idea that Mr. Walnut might not being coming home, he’d show up with his army duffle slung over one shoulder and a crooked smile on his face. And she’d always give in.  She was 40-something when she became pregnant the last time. When she found out, Hazel sat at the kitchen table and cried.  The last child was Chestnut Walnut.

Now Chestnut is 40-something. And Hazel is a frail old squirrel with an enlarged heart, missing fur patches and arthritic joints. She can’t make it up and down the tree on her own anymore. Back in the day, she kept an immaculate nest, but with so many squirrels in the nest these days, it might make it on an episode of Hoarders. They all live off her Squirrel Security Check.  She visits the Food Pantries and clips coupons.  Hazel is not able to collect nuts anymore. And the  rest of the family is too lazy and won’t.

It was two weeks before Christmas. Grandma Hazel hadn’t finished her Christmas shopping. She always bought each of them a little something.  The National Oak Tree Bank called.  Her account had been emptied.  She didn’t have a nut left.

Chestnut had done it before. Taken the checkbook out of his mother’s purse, wrote himself a check and cashed it. Then off to his dealer.

 

Chestnut sat at the kitchen table. His eyes were half closed and glassy.  He wore a half smile.

Almond waved Grandma’s checkbook in his face. “Chestnut! Did you do this?”

He shrugged a little. “You know I did. It’s not like you don’t help yourself when you lose at the Casino.”

Almond hit him hard. “You rat bastard! Your own mother!”

He lit a cigarette and blew  it in her face. He exited the kitchen up the stairs to his room.  Almond couldn’t do anything. She was 20 years older than he was and in poor health herself.

“I’ll turn him in after Christmas,” Hazel said.

Christmas came meager as it was–and went.  Hazel did not report her son. But she was old and tired. She  hoped that she just wouldn’t wake up one day.

A few weeks into the New Year, Hazel received another phone call from the bank.  Her entire stash of nuts had been depleted and over drafted by 500 nuts. The bank informed her that she would be charged 75 nuts a day until her account was brought back to zero.

Hazel cried at the kitchen table. No one had 500 nuts.

“Chestnut!” Almond screamed.

“What?” He was sitting in front of the TV smoking a joint.

“You need to turn yourself in,” Almond whined.

“I will after the weekend. I want to spend some time with the kids.”

But that was a lie. The kids were another lame excuse. He could give two pits about his kids. He would sell them for drugs if he could. The light bill  and nest insurance were  due, but all 500 plus nuts had been  shot  into Chestnut’s veins.

“Call Little Acorn,” Hazel said. “Ask to borrow the money.”

Little Acorn was Hazel’s grandson who lived in the city He was  Macademia’s son.

“Again?” Little Acorn raised his voice.

He loved his Grandma, but he knew if he gave her the money, the same thing would happen again. And there was no way that she could possibly pay back that amount of money. She was on a fixed income.

“Well, do you have it?” Almond asked.

“No, I don’t.” That was a lot of money. He had to pay his bills too.

“What about that rich girlfriend of yours? Ask her will you?”

“Yeah, I’ll ask.”  Little Acorn covered the phone with his hand and looked at his girlfriend, Sunflower. “Uncle Chestnut did it again. They need 500 nuts.”

“What? No. Absolutely not. Had they turned him in before Christmas, they wouldn’t be in this mess. Why should I pay for someone else’s drug habit.” She stormed away.

“She doesn’t have it either.” Little Acorn said.

“Doesn’t have it? Or doesn’t want to?” Almond asked.

“She doesn’t have it. Nor is she obligated to. She’s not family. I’ve got to go.” He ended the call. Little Acorn chewed his paw in thought. “It’s Grandma, ya know.”

“Yeah I know,” Sunflower said.  “But by giving them money, you’re enabling the situation to continue.”

“True, but—“

“But nothing. Remember watching that show Squirrel Intervention.  We would always say how stupid they were when the one family member would cave and let the drug using son back into the house or give him money.”

“Yeah.”

“Same thing.” she said. “But I might make a donation  if they report Chestnut and they change bank accounts. I’d need proof, though.”

Little Acorn called his brother Pecan who lived near their Grandma.  Pecan was willing to open a new account with grandma. Little Acorn called Grandma Hazel back. It was difficult having a phone conversation with grandma. Had to practically yell and she still couldn’t hear. But Almond wouldn’t hand the phone over anyway.

“We will give you half the money if you report Chestnut. And—“ Little Acorn started.

“He’ll go to prison!” Almond whined.

“Um. . .that’s where he belongs. He wrote bad checks. He stole from his own mother!.”

“But he’ll be there for a long time.”

Little Acorn continued. “And Grandma would have to close her account and get rid of her checkbook. Pecan would open a joint account and pay her bills.”

“No, that’s not going to work,” Almond said.

“That won’t work or you don’t want it to work?”

“It won’t work.”

“Let me talk to Grandma.’’

“She’s sleeping.”

“That’s my final offer.” Little Acorn hung up the phone shaking his head. “If Dad were still alive, he’d beat the pit out of Chestnut.”

Sunflower squeezed his paw. “Just remember they choose this over and over again. Free will. What’s that thing you say? The definition of crazy?”

“ You keep doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.”

They sat there in silence.

“I hope Dad was adopted,” Little Acorn said.

Sunflower nodded in agreement. “Stupid Northwoods Squirrelfuckers.”

Poor Hazel Walnut stuck in her hoarder nest with her adult children. There is no happy ending here. Squirrel Protective Services could get involved take her out of her home and put her into Adult Foster Care, because that would be so much better.  The possibility of Chestnut overdosing was a possibility. Or  Hazel might go to sleep one  night and get her wish. Until then, life goes on as usual in the Northwoods. Unlike the Walton’s . . .no one is wishing their family members a good night. http://youtu.be/cp7_u0kcQRo

 

 





Boycott Holland

4 07 2011

If you’re not Dutch, you’re not much. I heard that phrase many times growing up. But it’s not so much a phrase as much as an attitude– one that still permeates Holland.  Only they’ve changed it a little bit. If you don’t act or think like we do, you might as well be a dried up piece of dog crap or a special interest group.  That’s what Holland City Council is saying anyway.  In a 5 to 4 vote, they decided  not to include sexual orientation and gender identity into their fair housing ordinances and equal employment opportunity policy. Jim Larkin their token gay council member resigned in protest.

http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2011/06/gay_resident_resigns_from_holl.html

They said the community should decide (aka “I don’t have balls to take a stand”).  I mean seriously, aren’t they elected  officials? And then they said it would end healthy conversation over the debate. WTF? Hollanders don’t talk about stuff–especially, serious, community changing stuff. Best to leave things the way they are. Next thing you know people will want to drink and hang their laundry out on Sundays.

Grand Rapids ordinances have prohibited housing discrimination based on sexual orientation  since 1994.  That was almost 20 years ago!   I would have to say that even though Grand Rapids is larger than Holland, it’s generally a conservative city and still part of West Michigan’s ubiquitous Bible Belt.  Lansing which is seen as more of a liberal  dyke haven included sexual orientation in their ordinances in 2006. http://www.fhcmichigan.org/images/Arcus_web1.pdf    For those who work for the state of Michigan, there are employment protections based on sexual orientation. http://www.lambdalegal.org/states-regions/michigan.html  If you’re a GLBT patient in a Michigan hospital, you are protected by the PUBLIC HEALTH CODE Act 368 of 1978 which states “A patient or resident shall not be denied appropriate care on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, marital status, sexual preference, or source of payment.”

So there are many people down on Holland right now like the angry Facebook page that is calling for a Holland boycott.  I get that. But shouldn’t this be something that is decided on the state level. How is it fair that the state of Michigan protects their GLBT  employees, but not its residents? And for those of us who work and/or live in Holland, how are we supposed to boycott? It’s not like we live in a flourishing economy where we can just sell our house tomorrow or find a job with the same pay and benefits next week. Real life doesn’t work that way. And besides, if everyone who is GLBT or GLBT friendly avoids the city, who will be the voice who speaks out? Change only comes over time and with persistence. Not by running away. Well, fuck it. I’m not going to Holland ever again. Thanks assholes! And what about gay business owners in Holland? They do exist.

Conservative Hollanders are accusing special interest groups and non-locals of trying to change their local laws.   I’m not a special interest group. I’m mostly Dutch.  I was born in Holland Hospital—the old part. Lived in Holland for 23 years.  Two of my grandparents spoke Dutch. I Dutch Danced in high school. Played in the Holland Area Youth Orchestra.  Ate at Russ’s more times than I can count.  Bought candy at The Peanut Shop. Currently, I spend 1/3 of my life in Holland. I’ve spent 23,000 hours of my life providing nursing care for Holland residents. Problem is–I’m gay. And I have all sorts of liberal, non-conformist ideas about tolerance and civil liberties in my head.  I might even been contagious. Uh, oh.

The Happiest City? Welkom? Holland has always projected the façade of Happy. It’s the “if we don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist.”  My coworker who’s a native of Chicago described the attitude best. “You have a husband and wife. The husband wants to go to one place for vacation. The wife  wants to go to another place for vacation. But they don’t talk about it. So they go to a third place for vacation that neither one wanted to go to.” Hollanders don’t talk about things and don’t want things to change.  They want to order half a sandwich and cup of soup at Russ’s until the end of time.  And it better be the same price  and don’t expect a 15% tip. Are you crazy? A menu change would cause a cataclysmic mental melt down.

With the economy the way it is, you think Holland would be more cautious about who it snubs or pisses off. Money is money whether it comes from a Christian Reformed straight couple or a Pagan lesbian couple.  I remember when I was a kid before the
Westshore Mall. Mom would order our clothes from Sears or JC Penny’s Catalogues. Our other choice was a trip to the Woodland Mall in Grand Rapids. When I moved to Grand Rapids in 2001, the WestShore Mall was already dying. Big Boys, JJ Finnegans, Lane Bryant Spencers . . . all gone. Everyone is either closing up shop or moving back to Grand Rapids. And the Outlet Mall–last time I was there, it seemed like there were more empty shops than not.  And what about all the companies that have  disappeared?  I remember Life Savors before sugar was cheaper in Canada. Donnelly Mirrors before they sold out to  Magna. RediWhip.  Prince Corporation which I believed turned into JCI which is always laying people off. And those  are just the one’s I can remember. What’s left in Holland?  Muskegon used to be something too until all the factories shut down. The lakeshore and the Tulip Time Festival won’t save Holland.

Grand Rapids Mayor Heartwell said that including the GLBT community is a marketing decision, making a welcoming place for everyone. Notice he never says that he embraces the GLBT community. He’s not flying a rainbow flag in his front yard.  But he  believes in tolerance and a city that allows everyone to live as they are. http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2011/06/west_michigan_mayors_debate_be.html





Faggot Season

9 11 2010

I’m starting to wonder if Michigan is a safe place for the GLBTQ community. They’re going to ship us all to Ex-Gay concentration camps. And if we refuse, they’ll line us up in front of a firing squad.  Or maybe they’ll make a new sport out of it. Help supplement Michigan’s faltering economy. Deer Season will be replaced by Faggot Season. Hunting will be year round with semi-automatic rifles. Have to keep the population down otherwise that radical homosexual agenda and liberal thinking will spread to the rest of the God fearing population. They’ll wear rainbow camouflage and ambush us at the gay bars. Once they shoot us, they’ll cut us, gut us and jerky our meat. And they’ll wrinkle their noses a little bit as they’re chewing that lesbian tenderloin. Tastes a little gamey, they’ll say.

There was another homophobic ad in the Holland Sentinel Nov 6, 2010 Section A9. Only half a page this time. .Paid for by NOW JESUS MINISTRIES. It was titled “How sad when God’s original design is twisted!” Below that title are two gay men sitting on a bench reading a newspaper.  One man has his arm draped over the other man’s shoulder. Intimate, but not distasteful. Beneath the photo it goes on to tell us that we are violating His design and implies some sort of  punishment for those violations. In the column next to the twisted homosexuals, there is a picture of a man and woman kissing. The words “MAN WOMAN PEOPLE MAKER” appear in the picture. It’s surround by Biblical scriptures supporting the man/woman paradigm. Then in bold they urge us to call the number for a free 26 page booklet. Interestingly, the number listed is a Saugatuck number. Saugatuck is the gayest town I know besides Boy’s Town in Chicago.

Did anyone read about the creepy Assistant Attorney General for Michigan? Apparently, Andrew Shirvell (assistant AG) was stalking the student assembly president (Chris Armstrong) at U of M because he was openly gay. Shirvell was obsessively blogging about him, showing up at student assemblies and even protesting outside Armstrong’s house. WTF? These are government officials? See the interview on Anderson Cooper here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwObjKZg9Jw

I’m going to Wal-Mart to buy some hunter orange and a tree stand.  Find me some bigots and hate mongers. I hear they’re overpopulated.





The Chef’s Wife

22 06 2010

Subscribe to The Dirty Napkin http://thedirtynapkin.com/issue and read my story “The Chef’s Wife.” You can also listen to it!





Heather’s Stud (the Angry Blog Commenter)

21 03 2010

Dear Angry Blog Commenter,

I received your message.

“Lucy Diamond is a stupid bitch and has no idea what she is talking about.  How uneducated is she to not know who Gary Dop is?”

Unfortunately I was unable to e-mail you back at heathers_stud01@gmail.com It went directly to the mail demons and was returned as undeliverable. This made me sad. I wanted to talk about your feelings of hostility and unrecognized rage.

Honestly, I found your message a little weird—junior high, serial killer-ish. Because you weren’t even commenting on the blog itself. You made a comment about another commenter—evaluating their intelligence and ability to leave a comment. It only made your own ignorance more apparent.

Please do not leave derogatory comments on my blog site. The purpose of my site is to entertain, incite laughter and to provoke intelligent thought. Your comment does none of these things. I wanted to delete your comment and send you a personal e-mail. However, because you left an invalid address, I am forced to blog about it instead. Maybe even psycho-analyze and poke fun.

Most people probably do not know Gary Dop. Do you know who Gary Dop is?  I hardly know him myself. After all, how can you really know god?

It’s obvious that you know Lucy Diamond on a personal level—not just as a random comment on a blog site. And you have been harboring negative feelings toward her for some time.  Really you want to tell her that she’s a stupid bitch, but you’re too afraid. She probably hurt you in some way and vice versa. Instead of leaving angry, pseudo-anonymous comments on my site, it would be better if you talked directly with Lucy using “I feel” statements. Or perhaps you might want to consider therapy to help you work through your feelings.

A couple months ago the top search on my blog site was “Lucy Diamond was a prostitute.”  Was that you Heather’s Stud?  Typically, I don’t use my blog  to attack people that I know in a public forum. And if I do, I most certainly won’t use their real name.  I prefer to verbally accost systems, complete strangers and powerful officials. You fall into the complete stranger category.  I would like to remind you that this is a narcissistic blog. So mostly I like to talk about myself and include self-deprecating humor.

Heather’s Stud, you sound like an angry lesbian with Short Man Syndrome. You want to be big burly dyke so badly, but you need to grow some balls first.  

I should thank you for giving me something to write about, but I don’t think I will.

Julie Ann





Dead Wives

2 03 2010

Check out my short story “Dead Wives” now published in Sex & Murder Magazine

http://sexandmurder.com/_____current_issue.html