Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “pride”

A Poetess Rises

I am not someone who understands poetry. It either resonates or not, that simple. We have some wonderful poets pass through the Berkeley Writer’s Group and I often feel guilty at my inadequate feedback.

But every once in a while, a poem really captures my imagination. This happened with the very talented Laura Schulkind, who read a poem called The Ancient Stories. 

Laura

Laura will release her first collection, Lost In Tall Grass, (including The Ancient Stories) in March. Her publisher, Finishing Line Press will gauge the print run according to pre-orders in the next two weeks. 

If you are moved by the poem, motivated to helping promote poets, enjoy supporting Bay Area artists, or have friends who would appreciate a thoughtful gift, please join me and pre-order a copy of Lost In Tall Grass before January 20.

THE ANCIENT STORIES – Laura Schulkind

I want to hear the ancient stories.

No, not Homer.

He was a pretty modern guy—

jealousy, pride, conquest, lineage,

self-destruction.

 

I mean the stories howled around fires

when the handprints were fresh on the cave walls,

and humans shared the earth with woolly mammoths

and barely knew the connection between sex and life.

 

The stories humans told

at that split second in time

when we had the words

to tell our animal stories.

 

Before words erased our howls.

Before the word hate, or love.

Before the word loss.

Before the word blame.

Before the past subjunctive, or hypothetically speaking,

as it were.

 

When the whole of our vocabulary

the whole of our world was

hungry, hunt, eat, cold, warmth, fire, sleep, fuck, play, danger, run,

protect the young, oh yes from the very beginning protect the young.

Those stories.

 

Stories that I could hear above the complicated noise of you.

Deciphered from the ancient scrolls of my DNA.

Laura Schulkind

Pre-order Lost In Tall Grass here

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Alon Shalev is the author of the 2013 Eric Hoffer YA Book Award winner, At The Walls of GalbriethThe First Decree, and Ashbar – Wycaan Master Book 3 – all released by Tourmaline Books. Shalev is also the author of three social justice-themed novels including Unwanted Heroes. He swears there is a connection. More at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter). Hang out with Alon on Google+

Happy Pride Day

June is Gay Pride month and, not surprisingly, San Francisco knows how to celebrate.  All of June down Market Street, flags have been flying in the breeze, adding color to the majestic buildings. Most of the people who walk past and notice the flags are probably straight and the flags serve as the only reminder of Gay Pride Month.

Flags Fly on Market Street

The first time that I went to the Pride Parade was during the height of the Prop 8 battle (not sure ‘height’ works here as the struggle continues). I was worried about just being a gawking onlooker even though I marched with the Jewish community’s float in support of gay marriage. While I am sure that I probably did my share of gawking, I felt every part of the celebration.

so cool!

So I want to give a shout out to those of my friends and colleagues who are celebrating today and highlight four areas.

1. Same Sex Parents – I am honored to have met many friends who are parents of children that my sons are friends with. It would be wrong to suggest that they and their children will not face issues and have discussions that my family unit won’t have to deal with. But there is nothing stronger than a family who base their relationship as a family unit on commitment, cohesiveness and communication.

Proud Parents

2. The San Francisco Giants – I talked in a previous post about our baseball team being the first professional sports team to make a video highlighting the issue of young gay people who face bullying.

3. The SowerKemble Scott. This is a great novel, based in San Francisco, that has a strong gay, ethical theme. Kemble has also written another great novel, SOMA, that also illustrates a certain gay lifestyle.

The Sower and SOMA - Kemble Scott

4. Finally, Fernando and Greg – They host a morning radio show on 99.7FM. My eldest son and I listen and laugh when I drive him to school. We’ve had many conversations because of some of the things you guys said and I really appreciate it.

Fernando & Greg - the perfect wake up without the caffeine or calories

So whatever you are doing today – parading, parenting, watching a game, or reading a book – Happy Pride Day – and maybe this open celebration is something we can all be proud to be a part of.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

Being Gay – Rhondajo Boomington

As a former fundamentalist, who grew up continually hearing – from the pulpit at church – that “homosexuals make God vomit,” I have a true appreciation for Pride Weekend – and for living in my beloved Berkeley.

Here, people are more likely to judge me for being overweight or for not being independently wealthy than because I am a lesbian. That’s a huge relief.

Yes, of course, there’s still tons of homophobia here in the Bay Area. But at least the norm is not to express it openly.

When I go to North Carolina, people stare at me a lot. When I walk into a restaurant, heads turn, people glance at each other, staring disapprovingly. My hair is too short. I’m not wearing make-up. I’m not dressed in frilly clothes. And I’m not bashing my eye lashes at anyone. Often when I order, the wait staff will say “you’re not from around here – are you?”

My brother has warned me that when I visit, I need to stay within about a 20 mile radius of their town. Else “you won’t be safe if you go any further out.”

I came out to my Mom about eleven years ago, and left it up to her to share – or not share – that information with people in her world.

When I flew home, alone, five years ago on a red-eye,  my brother and my Mom picked me up at the airport. We went directly to my favorite restaurant for breakfast. I almost choked on my country ham when my brother said “well – Daddy told me ‘go pick her up at the airport. If she’s alone – bring her back here. But if she’s got anybody with her, she’s not coming under my roof.'” My Mom’s eyes got big – but she remained silent.

I  took a deep breath. Practiced all that fancy breathing I learned at those Buddhist retreats in Berkeley. I announced that would be staying with my friends, 60 miles away, rather than with my parents. I could see the pain in my Mom’s eyes.

My brother – honestly being earnest said “Now Rhondajo, just calm down. You’re getting worked up over nothing. You know how Daddy is with his dog. He loves that dog. More than anything. But that dog is an outdoor dog – and he is never coming into Daddy’s house.”

I was livid. I did more of that breathing – and practicing non-attachment.  I had flown 3,000 miles to see my family, and didn’t know when – or if – I would be back. By the end of the meal, I told my brother “while I am here, we’re talking about two things. And two things only. Country music and food.” And he took me to my parents’ house.

Given that having a gay child is the ultimate shame, I was more surprised that someone had told my father that I was gay – than I was with his reaction.

So – here in the Bay Area, we will be inundated by Gay Pride this weekend. But, remember, there’s still a lot of prejudice out there. Right now.

When you hear a homophobic  joke, please don’t just pretend you didn’t hear it.

If you have a gay person in your life, give her or him an extra big, warm hug this weekend.

And if you don’t have a gay person in your personal circle of friends – it’s a great time to embrace a bit more diversity.

Happy Pride Weekend!

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RhondaJo Boomington is a Southern transplant from North Carolina. She landed in the haven of Berkeley six years ago and never plans to leave. Formerly a fundamentalist who voted for Jesse Helms many times, she now relishes her liberal lesbian life in the Bay Area and is frustrated that Obama is not liberal enough. She has earned a J.D. and a Masters of Divinity, and  enjoys performing in the Bay Area as a stand up comedian and solo performance artist. Contact her at rhondajoboomington@yahoo.com

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