This morning while browsing my Facebook feed I happened to stumble across a post about Sia’s newest video “The Greatest” being released as a tribute to the victims of the Orlando Massacre this past June. After watching the video I was moved to share my thoughts with y’all. Yes this was a tragedy that will forever scare our country and the community I call my family. The LGBT Community has been my adopted family since my coming out, and when I woke-up that Sunday morning to hear about the shooting, my world was turned completely upside down. That was supposed to be a morning of celebration, of triumph, since we as a community had overcome may adversities in the past few years, and were a more unified and stronger community. That was the morning of the LA LGBT Pride Parade, and our celebration was put on hold so to speak to mourn the losses of those precious souls who were taken from us just a few hours before. I along with thousands of others had to make a decision, to stay home in fear that we too could be attacked or continue with the celebration, in honor of all those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice so we could celebrate pride. As the history books will read, we as a community came together and stood strong, unified, saying we will not back down out of fear, or give in to terrorist threats. We fought long and hard for the rights we have and will celebrate our PRIDE in memory of those we have lost.
I will never forget that day, especially when I could have been a victim that morning of 12 June 2016, as the LA Pride Parade was threatened by a disturbed man in Santa Monica. Thanks to the efforts of the local authorities the terrorist was arrested and the attack prevented. Despite recommendations from the Sheriff’s Dept and local officials, we didn’t cancel the parade, we stepped up our guard and continued as planned. Many of us scared, many of us hurt, and many of us mad. I can say I was truly mad that this type of tragedy can still happen in today’s society, a society where we claim to be tolerant of one another. A society where two men can live their life in peace and not fear another threatening to harm or kill them for living the life the choose.
Recently, the people of Southern Florida were under threat once again by another disturbed man who was to face trial this afternoon however was postponed due to health problems. This man had been making threats on Social Media that he was going to carry out an attack on LGBT men & women over the Labor Day Weekend. A week after the posts the FBI was able to locate and arrest the man before he could carry out any of his threats and Facebook was able to remove the posts and close the man’s accounts.
Over the past few months since the tragedy in Orlando there had been other similar attacks on various groups in Florida, Mexico and other locations killing at least 125 Americans and injuring 269 by gun-violence. Nearly 300 victims of gun-violence in America, I can’t believe this. In a country where we are supposed to be safe of violence such as this, however we have the highest rates of gun-violence than any other country in the world. Gun Violence Archive (GVA) reports that in 2016, to-date, there has been 38,254 incidents of gun-violence, 9,820 deaths, 451 Child related incidents (0-11), 2,117 teenager related incidents (12-17), and 263 mass shootings. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my children or relatives to live in a society that will allow this to happen, and not do anything to protect us, to protect our children. I urge who ever reads this to reflect of these numbers, to remember the tragedies of this past year, and previous years and hold our politicians accountable. This is an election year after all, and many of our leaders are bidding for election and re-election. Demand that we as a society prevent our children from growing up in a world where they can be killed for loving someone, to be killed for enjoying a night our with friends, to be killed walking down the street. Write letters, make phone calls, don’t let the conversation stop, and always remember those who we have lost.
“Spread Love, Not Hate”
Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
Amanda Alvear, 25 years old
Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old
Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
Juan Chavez Martinez, 25 years old
Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old
Cory James Connell, 21 years old
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old
Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25 years old
Christopher “Drew” Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
KJ Morris, 37 years old
Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
Luis Daniel Lestat Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
Jerald “Jerry” Arthur Wright, 31 years old
Below are the videos of tribute to those precious 49 that i found online, there are many more, but i share these with you here to help you remember…
Sia – The Greatest
“Hands” – A Song for Orlando
Stop the Hate: 49 Celebrities Honor 49 Victims of Orlando Tragedy in Ryan Murphy-Produced Tribute
Christina Aguilera – Change (Lyric Video)
Jennifer Lopez, Lin-Manuel Miranda – Love Make the World Go Round (Lyric Video)
“Forty-Nine Times” – Brandon Parsons
“PULSE” by Eli Lieb and Brandon Skeie
Rick Haze – One Pulse ft. Julian Velez
“Broadway for Orlando”: The Exclusive Music Video
Melissa Etheridge – Pulse
Adam Lambert – Outlaws of Love
Janet Jackson – Shoulda Known Better
Elton John’s Tribute to Orlando
Lady Gaga honors Orlando victims at Los Angeles vigil | LA LGBT Center
I am honored to be in the audience for this appearance by Lady Gaga.
As I sit here surrounded by the executive leadership of the California Veteran Community. It’s day 2 of the CalVet Leadership Summit, a gathering of the Senior and Executive Level leaders of US Dept. of Veterans Affairs, CA Veterans Affairs, the County VSOs, DAV, American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America, Swords to Plowshares, VetFund Foundation, other Veteran Service Organizations from around the state. I’ve never seen every VA Medical Center and Regional Office, and County VSO in one room at the same time. The newly appointed CalVet Secretary, Dr Vito Imbasciani MD called this summit to identify barriers faced by the Veterans of California and create strategies and alliances to better serve the Veterans. The Secretary and other leaders have set a tone of leaving politics and agendas at the door.
I was asked to attend and represent the LGBT Veterans in the State. The timing of this Summit couldn’t have been more perfect. I was laid off from my position at VOA as a Peer Support Specialist in the HUD-VASH Program due to lack of funding. With my experience of being an underemployed and homeless Veteran I have an insight in the struggles of the Veterans that most of these leaders don’t know first hand. At first I asked myself why am I here? I don’t belong in this room surrounded by these executives with travel budgets and resources to give up a week to travel to the Capitol. However, some how The gods smiled down on me and made this opportunity possible.
When I return back to LA, I’ll be using the contacts made here to plan the upcoming Operation: Do Ask, Do Tell 2016 and establish resources and programs for the Veterans in LA, and possibly find a new position working to continue to serve LGBT Veterans not only in LA but across the State.
In just a short few days, will be the Los Angeles Leather Pride Week’s official launch. What does this mean for LA? Well, let me fill you in on what’s happening behind the scenes to kick-off the largest leather gathering on the West Coast. Los Angeles Leather Pride is produced by the Los Angeles Leather Coalition (LALC) and celebrates the Mr. LA Leather Contest, a regional leather title, for the Greater LA Area. The LALC has member organizations (bars & clubs) from all over Los Angeles, Palm Springs, and Long Beach that come together to pull off this annual momentous series of events that highlight LA’s diverse more ‘adult’ side of the community.
This year, LA Leather Pride – “Bound” is spread out over 10 days! Yes! Here in LA we don’t do small things! While most cities celebrate their Mr. or Ms. Leather Contest over a weekend or a even a day, here in LA we celebrate the coveted Mr. LA Leather title over an entire week! This year in celebration of the accomplishments of the current Mr. LA Leather, Patrick Smith we added 3 pre-parties before the Official Kick Off. Shortly after wining the title last spring, Patrick went on to snatch the sash & title of International Mr. Leather 2015. It’s hard to keep up with him these days, but he is out there taking the titles to new heights, literally. He has traveled to far off lands where most of us only read about in the news, places where you can be killed for being “GAY”! This lil Canadian, turned Angeleno didn’t care about the warnings and used his title for good, visiting places such as Uganda, Egypt and the Ukraine. The LALC is so excited about the accomplishments of Patrick that they added a 3rd beneficiary to this year’s festivities, Sexual Minorities Uganda. To learn about all 3 of this year’s beneficiaries, click here. While you are out there strutting your stuff in your hottest leather couture, think about all the gabbies in Uganda that you are helping. I ask you, what other city celebrates Leather and the BDSM lifestyle on a global stage? LA, yes I said it! Los Angeles does and IS leading the way! Hoorah to LA, Patrick Smith and the LALC for all that is planned for this year’s LA Leather Pride Week 2016.
Be sure to visit www.laleatherpride.com to get your tickets & packages! They even labeled their Packages after the hanky code, how fun! Are you man/woman enough to flag Orange?
You can get the LA Leather Mobile App by visiting www.lalpapp.com from your mobile device, its the only way to stay in the know and be ahead of the crowd on what’s happening.
LA Leather Pride 2017 – “Code:LA” is promising to will be even bigger with the addition of Ms. LA Leather to the roster of events, from 23 March – 2 April 2017. Mark your calendars and prepare for a game changer.
The Official Kick-Off to LA Leather Pride is Snow Bound at Faultine on Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016. Yes, that’s right in true Hollywood style the Faultline and its staff will be transforming their parking lot into a winter wonderland. With imported snow, leathermen from around the world, the contests riding bitch-style on motorcycles, and more snow.
Location: Faultline, 4216 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90029
Date & Time: Sun, 27 March 2016; 2:00p-7:00p
Cover: $10 Official Event Also part of Orange & Gray Hanky Packages
On Tuesday, get out on the dance floor and show us your two-step at the Leather Rodeo, hosted by Caleb Engen, Mr. Oil Can Harry’s Leather 2016 & Jeremy Ronceros, Former Mr. Oil Can Harry’s Leather. This is sure to be a fun filled night of laughs and tight pants, oh my!
Location: Oil Can Harry’s, 11502 Ventura Blvd, Studio City,CA 91604
Want to rub elbows with the who’s who of the leather community? Well, then you want to be at the Invite-Only VIP Cocktail Reception. This event will have all the Contestants, Judges, Sponsors, the LA 30, and the select few who purchase the Orange Hanky. Come have a cocktail in out intimate setting before it all goes down at the contest.
Location: Bullet Bar,10522 Burbank Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601
Date & Time: Wed, 30 March 2016; 5:00p-8:00p
Cover: N/A Official Event Can only gain entry with Orange Hanky Package
The Men of ONYX have a long history of bringing the best dance parties to Leather Gatherings around the Country. The new ONYX SoCal/Southwest Chapter is joining that linage and will be bringing you some of LA’s hottest men for their first dance party. If their monthly beer bust at Eagle every 2nd Sunday is anything to gauge what they are capable, this sure is to be a night you definitely don’t want to miss.
Location: Precinct, 357 S Broadway Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90013
This is two events in one as things start to get serious. The Meet & Greet will be the place for the Contestants and the Key-Players are introduced to the World in a Cock-Tail Party before it all gets real with the Roast of Patrick Smith. Come out and have a few laughs as we get ready to crown a new Mr. LA Leather 2016.
Location: Precinct, 357 S Broadway Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Date & Time: Wed, 30 March 2016; 9:00p-2:00a
Cover: $5 Official Event Also part of Orange & Gray Hanky Packages
On Thursday March 31, we bring you the official rubber/Fetish gear party for Los Angeles Leather Pride 2016. You are bound to Rub1Out. This party will be a sexy slick event, and is expected to be a hot and kinky time. There will be no fundraising, no raffles, just a dark bar only lit in red, there will be hot go go boys in rubber, a DJ to spin some dark electronic music, and hot men everywhere. this is a event designed by Fetish lovers, and made for men to meet, hook up, and live their fetishes. Rubber, Neoprene, Latex, PVC, and hot gear encouraged! If you don’t have that stuff, come in a harness, or something that makes you feel sexy.
Location: Bullet Bar,10522 Burbank Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601
Come out to Rough Trade Gear in Silver Lake on Friday the 1st for an evening of food, cocktails, fun and some of the hottest men in uniform to be found in the Southland! Wear your best uniform gear, and bring out some serious energy for a fantastic Friday night.
Strict Dress Code Enforced: Formal Dress or Full Dress; Military, Law Enforcement, Fire Prevention Utility or Dress Club; Leather Replica Uniform; Formal Leather. Civilian Attire: Black Tie Optional, Coat & Tie. Since it’s a formal event, please no fatigues / combat or work uniforms.
Location: Rough Trade Gear, 3915 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029
Date & Time: Fri, 1 April 2016; 7:00p-9:00p
Cover: $25 Official Event Also part of the the Orange Hanky Package
Join the guys from Dog Pound as they put on their awesome puppy party at The Bullet.
Leather Dog Pound is back as the Official Pup Play Party of Los Angeles Leather Pride 2016. During the week long LA Leather Pride celebration, theres only one place to get your ‘pups all riled up, and that’s the Bullet Bar, home of Dog Pound!
Hosted by L.A. Pup 2016, Pup Zero. Ashtray Kain and Dan Lovell, this April Fools Day will be one for the cats!
APRIL FOOLS! It’s still one for the pups, but we will be honoring our handlers. Because what is a pup with out a handler? Both roles are important, and both must be celebrated. So let’s celebrate our pride in those that hold our leashes!
Bring your boys.
Bring your leather.
Let’s f***ing play.
Commemorative Leather Dog Pound 2016 pins will be available!
Location: Bullet Bar,10522 Burbank Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601
UNBOUND – LA LEATHER PRIDE 2016 NastyKinkPigs.com & Avatar LA Bring you: UNBOUND Fri Night, April 1st, 2016 • 9pm-3am Prepare for a night of Dark Beats & Dirty Men! DJ EUROSTEVE Live Performance by Aarin Asker Gear Code: Biker • Jock • Rubber • Leather • Sport • Skin • Puppy • Muscle Bear • Military Location: 333 Live 333 S. Boylston St Los Angeles, CA 90017 21+
Location: 333 Live, 333 S. Boylston St, Los Angeles, CA 90017
Are you wondering where all the women are at during LAL week? Are you thinking of attending the Mr. Los Angeles Leather Contest but are wondering how to connect with anyone other than the 2,000 men in attendance?
Ms. Los Angeles Leather is hosting a pre-contest meet-up downtown where you and your friends, dates, play partners, etc. can come socialize have a drink, or a bite to eat and meet other women, gender queer, and gender nonconforming folks prior to the contest.
If you are new, this is an excellent opportunity to meet your local titleholders, and other members of the community or just have fun with that person you’ve been chatting up on Grindr, Fet, FB or Tinder
Location: The Falls Lounge, 626 Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90014
The Main Event you have been ooozzziiinnggg with anticipation for! All 10 Contestants bare their souls and bodies for the LA Leather Judges to select the next Mr. LA Leather 2016. Who is your favorite(s)? Come cheer them on and witness LA History in the making. Then stay for Legion, both event for one ticket! LA’s thrifty like that!
Location: Globe Theater, 740 S Broadway, Los Angeles,CA90014
Date & Time: Sat, 2 April 2016; 6:00p-10:00p
Cover: $30-Advance / $40-Door Official EventAlso part of Orange & Gray Hanky Packages
Brought to you by LA super-producers Hunter Fox & Justin David, LEGION brings you the hottest DJ’s & State-of-the-art Lighting to create one hot party. If you like your dance floor filled with wall to wall sweaty guys in leather, than this is for you! And the best part, your ticket is good for BOTH the dance AND the Mr. LA Leather Contest before.
Location: Globe Theater, 740 S Broadway, Los Angeles,CA90014
Date & Time: Sat, 2 April 2016; 10:00p-3:00a
Cover: $30-Advance / $40-Door Official Event Also part of Orange & Gray Hanky Packages
DJ SHANE STIEL spins Sat. Night (Sun. Morn) APRIL 3rd
Our 1 – Year Anniversary @ Los Globs
Leather Pride Weekend After Hours (After LEGION)
REFLEX Dancers & Dungeon Areas
BAR OPENS 6am
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All Events FUNKtion ONE Sound
Doors Open @ 2am (Downstairs) til’ 8am for Leather Pride
Los Globos Event Space | 3040 Sunset Blvd.
$15 Adv. Tix @ http://www.flavorus.com/event/REFLEX-Shane-Stiel-Leather-Pride/318093
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Produced by the Reflex Team
EVENT & GRAPHIC DESIGN: Michael Patrick
BOOKINGS: HRM Jonathan Chang
LIGHTS: Sean Ward
TECH: “Tattoo” Chris Perry
PR: Benjamin Dubois
DOOR: Victor Hugo
FLOOR: Steward & Yar
VIDEO: Jeremy Beard
INK: Marky Make-UP
PICS: Iggy Lopez & Thuc Win
MASSAGE & COAT CHECK: Brent Raymond
Now that I’m using the Metro again to get around I can’t help but use the time to sit in somewhat quiet, especially if I’m using my headphones, and ponder the great many questions about life. This morning was nothing different, given I was half asleep and we got stuck in the tunnel on the East LA extension of the Gold Line.
With the upcoming LGBT Veteran Event I’m producing at Patriotic Hall, I have many things going on upstairs and have difficulty concentrating on anything for any extended period with out my mind drifting over to the planning and coordination of the event. If you have no clue what ever I’m referring to, please visit http://op-dadt.aver-gla.org and educate yourself.
Any who, between thinking about if certain political leaders have confirmed attendance and where I will be placing the many service providers, I took a moment to enjoy the scenery. And did I ever…. There was this stocky Latino standing across from me, and this guy was a looker. I found myself studying him, the way he was dressed, how his head was freshly shaved, the artwork and possible meaning behind his tatts, how he carried himself, how he walked across the platform, how he shifted his weight when standing. OK, I’ll admit I was starring, but I tried not to make it overtly obvious that I was. I tried to camflauge my stares by looking down at my phone. And, I ask you what would you be doing in my shoes?
I bring this up cause I finally came to the realization that this is the “type” of guy that gets my attention and I find the most attractive. I know, how cliche… Listen up, I have dated many “types” and races, even sexes… And no not just a typical man and woman, I’ll let that fester for a min………… When I’m asked what is my “type” I always say, I don’t have one and that I like all kinds of guys, but at times Latin guys get my attention most of all.
So, this morning while being stuck in the tunnel I came to realize that I truly have a infatuation, you can say with Latinos. Not just any Latinos, I like the “type” of guy that looks unapproachable, but is a giant teddy bear, the guy with a shaved head or a very tight fade, dark brown skin and tattoos. Tattoos and modest body jewelry make any man extra attractive in my book. For the most part, it has to be tasteful and public friendly. Sometimes the gang tatts make me wanna sit on the guy’s face… OMG, did that just come out? Sorry Mom, I know you’re probably reading this. I’m just being candid and honest. Hell, this my personal blog, and if you’re a new reader thanks for checking me out. Consider yourself warned that there will be times were I throw caution to the wind and let you have it!
Well there you have it, that’s what I like, and upon reflection has been the “type” of guy I have dated or even been with the past few years… If you find this type to be scary or is a trouble maker, that is not always the case. I have found that every “type” has its problems, you have to be willing to give everyone at least a chance, you never know what may be right in front of you. I will close on this thought, my “type” of man has proven to have been the best provider and caretaker, and one hell of a lover! 😜
For the past 6 months to a year, I have been taking time to concentrate on myself and get on a better path. 2014 was one hell of a year, I’m telling you the struggle was definitely real. 2014, marked 10 years since I was kicked out of the one job I truly loved. I was discharged under the former Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy for loving a man, right after being given a medal for going to war and fighting along side my brothers and sisters. Subconsciously the anniversary of getting kicked out of the Army for being gay was really hitting me hard, and for a long time I was cutting myself off and would stay in bed for weeks on end. Not good, I know.. Trust me it was not a cute time…
I thought that 2015 would be off to a good start and it started off rough. For a few month my home life was not stable and in July I ended up becoming one of the many Homeless Veterans in LA County. Let me back track a lil…
One great thing happened in March, I met a great guy. For privacy let’s just call him, Pup. Pup and I had been friends for several years and on Easter went on our first date. We started dating and a month later we were out eating Tacos at La Estrella in Highland Park and he asked if I wanted to be his boyfriend. Of course I said yes.
Things with Pup were off to a fabulous start then about a month and half ago we hit a rough patch. I noticed he started spending more time with his friends and when we were spending time together we we weren’t as engaged with each other as we were. This also happened right around the time I became homeless. One could say it was after the honeymoon stage while others would say we weren’t meant to be. I not sure what happened but I can tell you I still care deeply about Pup, hell I still love him. So, a week ago we were out having pie and I confronted him about this and was asking for a little more attention, I wanted to feel loved. With becoming homeless and trying to figure out life in general I was feeling alone and defeated. Come to find out he claimed to be distant due to my PTSD, I was too reserved and closed off. I have trouble with intimacy and letting anyone get to know me. I am working on it, however who ever wants to be with me has be willing to go with the ups and downs of living with a Combat Veteran. Gurrrrl, The struggle is real & the devil is a lie! I tell you it can be rough but if you work it out, it can be one of the best loving relationships you will ever have.
Well we parted ways and it hit me really hard. I lost one of the only good things I had going for me. But you do what you can and roll with the punches. Well, a few days later my buddy the Muscle Cub and I started chatting again. Last year we had went out a few times and when my home life started to fall apart we parted ways but stayed in contact.
This weekend we both were talking and we both have lots of things we are working on and think it might be beneficial to work together and accomplish our life goals. He even asked if I’d be interested in setting down and us eventually become a married couple. I’m seriously considering it, I have been single way to long and would love to have someone to come home to after a long day at work. It will be nice to share a bed & home with someone I care about, and cares about me. It will be nice to even live with a man that might be interested in starting a family some day, a few dogs, few fish, and even a lil clicking baby or two… You never know…
So there it is, I might be getting married to my best friend. All this right after starting a new job as a VA Contractor a few weeks ago and getting approved for the VA’s Section 8 Program last week. Things are starting to finally look up. It’s true what they say, “One Door Closes, Another Door Opens.”
That’s that, know it is alot to process, will keep y’all posted on how things unfold over next few months. It might be a Christmas wonderland wedding…
Today will definitely be a day I will remember. I witnessed the decision of the US Supreme Court that Marriage Equality is now legal in all 50 States. Since moving to California in 2007 I have seen much change that impact my community. I first witnessed Marriage Equality in CA, only to have it taken away by the electorate a few months later. Then came the Repeal of DADT, then Marriage Equality again in CA along with the finding of DOMA as unconstitutional. I even witnessed my home State of Texas, fight a legal battle to limit my rights if i ever chose to move back home, all because I am an openly gay man. I put my live on the line by going to war for this country to be kicked out of the Military for loving a man, and then to be told I am a second-class citizen for the same reason. However, today I am overwhelmed with joy that my rights and freedoms are restored. That someday, hopefully soon, I can share in the happiness of marrying the man I love, just like every other citizen. That in the eyes of the Federal Government and each of the 50 States, I am to never be seen as a second-class citizen.
The fight in not over! Until my fellow LGBT Brothers and Sisters are afforded full and equal status, and treatment by the VA, DOD and other government agencies & communities, the work for Equality must go on. Today is a day of celebration on this victory. AVER and myself will keep watch to make sure that full equality comes and is never taken away.
Earlier today i wrote the official Statement for AVER-GLA congratulating my fellow Brothers and Sisters on our Marriage Equality Victory. The full text can be found here.
This morning marked a monumentous milestone in the history of LGBT Equality. The US Supreme Court issued a landmark decision on Marriage Equality yet again in the OBERGEFELL v HODGES (No. 14-556) stating that it is unconstitutional to ban marriage to same-sex couples and cited the Fourteenth Amendment that no State shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” This 5-4 decision in affect enforces the 2014 U.S v Windsor (No. 12–307) which declared that the Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional. Around the Country, civil liberty groups are celebrating years of fighting to be considered as everyday citizens and not a sub-set of the population. Before today, 37 States had Full Marriage Equality, leaving 13 with it either banned or had some form of partial recognition. Today’s decision affirmed two important issues, 1. “The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex” and 2. “to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State.” Meaning just that, anyone who wishes to marry the person they love can do so in any of the 50 States, and the marriage must be recognized by another state if the couple happens to move around the country. This freedom and right has been afford to opposite-sex couples going back to the start of our Great Country.
AVER-GLA is proud to be on the forefront of history and witness Marriage Equality not only in our home State of California, but the entire United States of America. Please join us this evening as we gather as a community in West Hollywood, for the Marriage Equality: Decision Day Rally at West Hollywood Park, 647 N San Vicente Blvd, West Hollywood, California 90069 from 6p-10p. Similar Celebrations will be held around Southern California, in Pasadena SCOTUS Decision Day Rally at the Metro Gold Line Lake Station at 340 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, California 91101 from 6p-? and in Long Beach Day of Decision Long Beach at the Long Beach Civic Center from 5:30p-7:30p. Other Locations around the Country can be found by visiting www.uniteformarriage.org.
As you can see the earth did not swallow the County whole, the skies did not rain hell fire, the world did not end, the sanctity of marriage was not ruined, the lives of children were not threatened, none of the things that the opposition cited occurred. What did happen is couples who truly loved each other were told that their union is not recognized by the Federal Government as well as each and every state in the US. Very shortly we will see benefits and legal rights that were denied to same-sex couples by various States and Government Agencies be afford to each and every citizen of the United States of America.
Follow the discussion on-line by using these trending hashtags:
Many have asked me what it’s like to live with PTSD and/or what it was like to serve in a combat zone. It’s difficult to explain to someone who had never served, as the experience is unique, and it also effects everyone differently. For some the experience is so traumatic that they literally break down immediately and can never recover, while others go on to live normal everyday lives with little to no impact on their well-being. For the most part many come back with a degree of PTSD. This poem I found recently let’s the world see thru the eyes of the Veteran. I recently shared this with the Los Angeles Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, as I am a vocal Gay Combat Veteran, and felt some of them needed to be educated on what some elements of my everyday life is, as well as many other Veterans.
One thing to think about is LGBT Veterans also face an added layer of anxiety as they also faced discrimination for being who they are. Some of which, like myself, where kicked out of the service for loving someone that the military said was unnatural. This stress along with the stress of surviving combat is something I would never want to wish on my worst enemies. It is however part of wgat makes me the man I am today, and why I have dedicated my adult life to helping my fellow Veterans navigate the hell that is the VA System, and life.
Take a look at the original poem here as well as some of the others on the site that Veterans have written. Their words are a peek into our lives that the world will never truly see…
The Following Are Some of the Feelings That Most Will Never Know
By Robert R.
Today I freaked out in a store where danger was non-existent.
Maybe if I stay up all night doing coke there won’t be any nightmares.
But I can’t go without sleep.
The war is over for me.
I don’t understand why I panic or break out into sweats
or fits of anger.
Today I saw most of my family for the first time in a year.
Nothing felt real; everyone was but a stranger passing by me on a street.
“Dissociation” is the term, I believe.
I feel like my mind has shattered
and that I left my soul in Iraq.
I don’t want to admit that I’m hurting inside.
When my emotions were shut off,
I didn’t get to choose which ones I would keep.
I feel utterly lost.
I used to be strong and proud.
Now all I can think about is what I saw, what I experienced.
Nothing in the world seems to matter beyond that.
I think more now, and when I speak it’s with a sarcastic tone.
Months of feeling dead inside are followed by a week of depression and tears.
I feel weak and frail, my identity and faith shattered.
In “The Odyssey,” Homer asked:
“Must you carry the bloody horror of combat in your heart forever?”
The answer still eludes me.
I encourage everyone who reads these words to really take a moment and take them in. Try and see the world thru the eyes of the reader. May they help you better understand the horror of what living with PTSD is…
With the news that is swarming the internet about the Supreme Court refusing to hear appeals in regards to Same-Sex Marriage Bans, I just had to share my thoughts. Below you will see what has become the anthem for the Same-Sex Movement, and it was done by a straight artist. If you actually take a min and listen to the words they really resonate on what is going on in the world today.
In 25 states – CA, CO, CT, DE, HI, IA, IL, IN, ME, MD, MA, MN, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OK, OR, PA, RI, UT, VA, VT, WA and WI, plus Washington, D.C. – same-sex couples have the freedom to marry.
In an additional five states – KS, NC, SC, WV, and WY – federal appellate rulings have set a binding precedent in favor of the freedom to marry, meaning the path is cleared for the freedom to marry there.
In another 10 states, judges have issued rulings in favor of the freedom to marry, with many of these rulings now stayed as they proceed to appellate courts: In AR, FL, ID, KY, MI, and TX, judges have struck down marriage bans, and in AZ, LA, OH and TN, judges have issued more limited pro-marriage rulings.
In NV, same-sex couples can join together in domestic partnership, which offers broad protections short of marriage. And in MO, the marriages of same-sex couples legally performed in other states are respected.
With these advances, a record number of Americans live in states that recognize relationships between same-sex couples:
Over 54% of the U.S. population lives in a state with the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.
Nearly 55% of the U.S. population lives in a state with either marriage or a broad legal status such as domestic partnership.
Over 60% of the U.S. population will soon live in a state with the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.
This is truly a time to remember, as things are soon to be the law of the land. As a soldier I fought in the name of freedom, only to be told i was not wanted to to my being a gay man, and returned home to Texas to be told I could not marry the person of my choosing. When I moved to California, I new I was now living in a state where I can live freely, and someday be able to publicly marry Mr. Right when he came along. I saw that reality come alive when Marriage was first made legal in California. Then a few months later than dream was shattered before it could come to fruition when the Voters chose to Ban Same-Sex Marriage. I am glad to have lived to see that right return to the citizens of California when Prop 8 was found to be unconstitutional. And the Justices of the US Supreme Court upheld that basis of the US Constitution that states that the majority can not choose to remove the rights of the minority. One of the reasons I took the Oath of Enlistment, “that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”This first part of that oath is used in nearly every government office in the country, as we as public servants choose to live to a higher standard, one where we will fight for those with no voice, and defend ALL AMERICANS from those who wish to do harm, be it by legal means or not. Granted, I no longer am held accountable to the Oath, as i don’t currently hold a public office, nor am I in the US Military. I choose to retain these words in my day to day life, it has made me the man I today. The openly gay Veteran who freely fights for full equality. I hope to see the day when every American Citizen can marry any one of their choosing. I hope to see the day where there is no such thing as discrimination. Some day I want to be able to marry Mr. Right, and have him eligible for full spousal benefits from the VA. I want to be able to show my future husband, whomever he is, that I love him in public without being called names or get dirty looks. I want to be able to visit my future husband in the hospital when he is sick and have him be able to make the decisions for me when that time comes, and ultimately be able to have my future husband buried along side me in a federally funded VA Cemetery.
These are just some of the rights that are banned from my same-sex family in states where it is illegal. and of course the federal government still is not affording these rights to every person dictated by federal law. When part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down, causing a ripple effect that still has not run its course, allowing the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages performed in states where it is legal. Each Department has been dragging its feet as they have to go thru and change the wording in all the federal code that was written before and after the passage of DOMA. You would think it would be a quick fix to have a few analysts go thru the code and remove any and all reference in regards to the federal ban of same-sex marriage. It sadly is not that easy, as some departments need to submit changes to congress before anything can happen. An example is when my friend Tracy Cooper-Harris filed suit against the Department of Veterans Affairs to have her lawfully wedded wife be able to share her VA Benefits just like her straight brothers and sisters in arms. As histrory has told us, the US Goverrnment lost that battle, and the VA was ordered to give Tracy’s wife the benefits she was due. This only went so far as the lawsuit was against the Veterans Health Administration. Another branch of the VA has yet to change their policy allowing same-sex couples to be buried in Federally Funded Veterans Cemeteries. Someday soon, we should see that change for the better.
America the brave
Still fears, what, we don’t know
And God loves all His children
Is somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase a book written
35 hundred years ago
We see the artist make reference to two very important things, that the country we call the “Land of the Brave” is still afraid of the unknown and anything different. Can change really be that much of a threat to our country? I think not. This great country of ours has seen change and progress since day one. I don’t think we will ever be a perfect country where we no longer have to change our laws. Since the US Constitution was first written there have been 27 Official Amendments and over 11,000 proposals. Showing that we can always change laws. We also have adopted tens of thousands of laws since the country was founded, and congress makes hundreds of changes to these laws each year. Proving that if used properly we can truly be a land of people governed by the people, creating and enforcing laws that benefit all men and women. We are not a land where a book written 35 hundred years ago is the law of the land, as we don’t know who actually wrote it, and what the context could have been as we definitely live in a land where many of the Bibles laws do not exist. Both documents are also open to debate as the reader is allowed to interpret the words as they wish. I just do not agree when that interpretation is made in a manner to place harm on any person or group of people. That is not the word I was taught in Sunday School.
If you wish to read more on what the media is saying about today’s decision not to review the appeals you can visit these and the many more found using google or the search engine of your choosing:
After reading this article I’m truly saddened that this is happening. W as modern Americans can’t allow our youth to be kicked out of their homes and forced to live on the streets. I remember when I was growing up in my home, I moved out at the age of 16, when my father and I would fight constantly. I knew then I was different, and hadn’t come out to myself. I remember him calling me faggot and saying that my friends only wanted me around so they could rake turns on me. It wasn’t until several years later that I even felt comfortable with a man, I fought my true self for years, getting engaged at the end of my senior year, and again in the Army.
We have to create a loving and safe environment for our kids to to grow up in. If we are disowning them in the name of a religion that is supposed to be based on love and acceptance, what message are we truly giving. This is part of the reason why I created Sister Mariposa, she exists to spread joy and acceptance in a world that is cruel. If she can help at least one person, then she can die a happy nun.