Sunday, July 30, 2006

The reward for writing

If you're an author... you know this feeling. You write. You write. You write. And when it's all ready you wonder if you'll connect with anyone. When a stranger writes, it can feel like a miracle. Good energy for getting up in the morning and continuing to spread word about your book. Thanks for this note...

Dear Lars, I received your book . . . what a powerful work of the Holy Spirit! How blessed we all are that you heeded Her prompting to make the trip and to tell the story--that is the only way I can describe it. I could not put it down until I finished it. My partner Brian is reading it now.

The way you share the stories of the people you encountered on your journey came alive even more so as you shared YOUR story. You are a blessing. Thank you so much for taking the risk of sharing so much of yourself with the rest of us.

My life as a gay man has not always been easy, but since living my life out of the closet I do understand "the peace that passes all understanding." Jake Reitan said it perfectly when he told you,"Allies listen, and allies believe the stories they hear." Lars, thank you for listening, and thank you for believing. You and your family are, and will continue to be in my prayers.

And you are in my prayers,
Blessings for the day,

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Letters to the Editor

I have a slow fuse. The anti-marriage Supreme Court decision this week grows more and more troubling as the days pass and I think of the implications. This morning I collected my thoughts to write a Letter to the Editor of the Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Whether it makes the paper or not...its nice to have a blog...

Letter to the Editor : July 28, 2006

The "activist judge" accusations of the religious and political right must be hitting home. The Supreme Court decision against marriage wrote, ""while same-sex marriage may be the law at a future time, it will be because the people declare it to be, not because five members of the court have dictated it." If the courts of the 1960's had followed this logic, we might still be waiting on civil rights legislation.

As much as I wish the court had decided for same-gender marriage, I still appreciate their truth that marriage equality will become law when "the people declare it to be." Last summer I unicycled for five weeks and 1,000 miles to gather stories of gay, and lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. I also asked hundreds of straight people what they thought of equal rights. Even for those who thought homosexuality was a sin, when I told about specific couples, and the specific hardships which the Supreme Court noted in last weeks decidsion, almost to a person, people responded, "Yes, they should have those rights."

The fastest way to the privileges and responsibilities of same-gender marriage is to recognize that that we're talking about real people, and real gay and lesbian families that already exist. Getting beyond political and religious polarization will require us to tell our stories, listen to one another, and believe what we hear. A young gay man during my tour last summer, defined an ally for me. "Allies listen. And they believe what they hear." As soon as we act, as soon as declare it to be, we can achieve marriage equality.

STRAIGHT INTO GAY AMERICA: MY UNICYCLE JOURNEY FOR EQUAL RIGHTS has just been released. It's my way of adding a voice to the equal rights movement. A neighbor who is reading my book addressed me with some frustration, "You're making me think about things I've never thought about before."

"Good," I replied to this mother of two young girls, "If your daughters grow up lesbian, now you'll be ready to keep loving them." So many gay and lesbian, bisexual, and transgender families have been torn apart by hatred of homosexuality. Real family values don't tear families apart. Marriage equality will give dignity to all families. Let's do what the court says, and "declare it to be."

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Washington Supreme Courst says NO to Marriage Equality

Some months ago my friends Dotti and Roby asked if I'd help officiate the state sanctioning of their marriage if the Washington State Supreme Court decided in favor of marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. They'd already been married in Oregon, and then later had the state sanction for their marriage revoked. We won't be doing that wedding anytime soon.

WA Supreme Court rules against marriage equality: The court acknowledged the hardship and inequality that couples like Dotti and Roby suffer because they're same gender, but the court decided they have no right to the state sanctioning of marriage. The court said the legislature could take this up if they want to create marriage equality law.

I read the Washington Supreme Court Ruling and found myself thankful for advocates who keep pressing through the long legal thickets of gaining equality. Dissenting Justice Bridges predicted that "gay marriage will ultimately be on the books and this court will be criticized for failing to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act." I agree with her. The majority responded, "while same-sex marriage may be the law at a future time, it will be because the people declare it to be, not because five members of the court have dictated it." Although I believe the court is in business to protect minority rights (women, slaves, and the long history of those who have been included in the rights and privileges of our country), still, I find hope in this statement of the court.

Equality will come when people declare it to be:That's our job, declaring equality, making it so in our everyday lives. Dotti and Roby, (who have traveled the country this year in search of authentic connections,) tell us all that we must come out of the closet, claim our authentic selves, and engage people in daily real life. This is equally true for "straight" folks who understand the need for equality.

As I found on my unicycle tour Straight Into Gay America, Dotti and Roby are confirming that when people hear about real people and real situations, almost everyone responds, "Yes, they should have those rights." Equality will come when we declare it to be.

A neighbor recently came up to me and gave me a friendly shaking on the shoulder. "You're making me think too much," she said, "I've never paid any attention to gay rights."

"Good," I replied, "If your daughter's grow up lesbian, or bisexual, or transgender, you've still got plenty of time to make sure you'll accept them and love them for who they are."

No straight marriage was made stronger by yesterday's ruling, but plenty of same-gender partnerships and plenty of children being raised by same-gender parents will continue to live together and love together without the strengthening privileges and responsibilities of state-sanctioned marriage. For now, the simple promises to one another, to their communities, and to God, will have to suffice.

Once we declare equality to be,
  • then partners can visit one another in the Intensive Care Units where current visitation practices restrict visitation to immediate family members.
  • then custody questions will cease if one parent in the family dies
  • then social security benefits can be shared
  • medical coverage will apply
  • inheritance will transfer
  • taxes can join
  • the other 1138 federal benefits that apply to married couples will apply to same gender who have promised their lives to one another and to their children.

After the tour last summer, and after the week in Colorado with beautiful families, I know equality makes sense. I'll keep pushing Straight Into Gay America. There is an equality day in our future, no matter the length of the journey. Blessings for the road.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Eyes Wide Open - The Human Cost of War

Today Chelan, Washington is hosting the Eyes Wide Open exhibit. Anne and I have been helping to organize this day for the last six weeks. Hundreds of combat boots are arranged on the corners of a busy downtown intersection, representing civilians and the 366 National Guard soldiers who have died in Iraq.

Like I said, this is a busy corner with tourists from all over the state who are here to enjoy our 50-mile-long lake. Most of the walkers stop for a moment to take a careful look. It's a memorial to the dead, a remembrance of The Human Cost of War. It's a place for conversation. One teacher passing by jerked himself to a stop when he noticed the name of one of his elementary students whose name was attached to a pair of boots. Another young woman lay on the ground next to a pair of boots, stroking the toes of the boots that bore the name of her onetime best friend.

Thanks to the American Friends Service Committee for this exhibit, and for their persistent attention to the possibilities for peace. Almost 2600 U.S. soldiers have died since the start of the war. Perhaps 100,000 Iraqi civilians has suffered death. No matter what a person's position on the war, almost all of us can grieve the high human cost. Almost all of us can turn our best efforts and intentions toward the goal of peace. Today in Chelan, we're looking at boots, remembering the reality of death, and seeking best paths forward for compassion and peace.


Monday, July 24, 2006

Soulforce at Focus On The Family

Apologies! I didn't have my blog password along during this past incredible week at Soulforce. If you haven't been following the Soulforce week, you can read all the daily reports on the website at LATEST NEWS

I'll figure out that password for next time I travel. We sold two cases of books while we were in Colorado. What a feeling to hold that book and now be able to share it with others.


Friday, July 14, 2006

Books are OFF THE PRESS!

Today, in Kansas, 1,000 copies of Straight Into Gay America are headed out from the printers to their distribution center. For all who have ordered books, shipping starts on Tuesday.
I hope you'll really love this book. It's been such an adventure to create it. So many people have rushed to help create it in time for this election season.

Turns out that my publication date is coinciding with the House of Representatives voting on the Federal Marriage Amendment to exclude gay and lesbian people from marriage. There's an excellent article on the national call in day on the PFLAG Website. If you want to sign a petition, The Task Force Petition is an easy way to do so online. Their goal is 100,000 signatures. If you can add yours, thank you.

I fly to Colorado Springs on Monday, and I'll be unicycling with Soulforce for my publication release on Tuesday. If you've ever done promotional work you know how endless and consuming it can become. I'm thankful for the daily emails that arrive with reminders of the purpose of this journey. Another gift was made to Soulforce for my riding in the march. The giver, who I don't know, wrote this remark.

"My Godson was expelled from The Episcopal School in Wichita Falls, TX because he has 2 loving mothers. He was only 3 years old! They fled to Canada because they did not feel it was safe to raise their children in Texas. It is amazing what some Christians will do! We have to make a difference. Thanks for helping make that difference."

Next week, I'll join hundreds of people in Colorado Springs to help end Focus On The Family's anti-gay focus. I'll do my best to offer daily updates next week, of the people I meet who are acting to make a difference.

The books are off the press! Now begins a new adventure. I hope it makes a difference. If you haven't ordered your copy yet, now would be a great time.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Gifts of Encouragement

6 days before my publication date ride in Colorado. I was looking through emails this morning, remembering the journey of these last months. The letters helped me remember the variety of reasons we need equal rights. I posted a few excerpts on the website. Maybe there will be connections for others. Here are the quotes. You can also see them on the homepage at

"Thanks for doing what you do.... I'm a PROUD MOM of a GAY son."

"I am a gay minister. Thank you SO MUCH for your courage. Your insights are keen. Your writing consistently brilliant, enlightening, questioning, supportive and ongoing."

"I am a gay woman in the deep south and my partner and I are lucky to work together. We endured several years of harassment at work and we've survived it with our heads held high. We have been together in a committed relationship for almost 9 years and we are raising two beautiful children together that had been given away and left to perish."

"I am overwhelmed at what you have accomplished. There is no other way to say it. I am 60yrs old, in a 30 yr relationship and before that was married for almost 10 yrs... I am not sure some folks will appreciate as much as they should what you have done."

"I am a mother of a 17 year old gay son.....just found out a few months ago. I am scared for my son with this world. I praise you and am proud of you! I told my son about your book. God bless you and be safe."

"Your writings and thoughts are straight to the point and cover it all."

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Letting it Be

Just returned from a 3-day backpack trip in the Cascade Mountains of Washington.
Together with another family we hiked up over 9,000 feet, glissaded down a snowfield, and entered the natural world that keeps turning day by day regardless of what I do or don't accomplish.

On the first day I thought about all the things I should be doing for next week's book release. One week from today the book becomes public in Colorado Springs,

On the second day I thought about the book, and why I'd taken my journey, and all the hours this past winter that I wrote and wrote and wrote.

On the third day, hiking back to the car, I resolved to let it be, to take what comes. I realize how much I want to get past the uncertainty and reach the point of knowing more about my days. Even with the small one-bedroom house we're renting, our expenses are currently larger than our income.

The bank account on this adventure draws slowly down, even as the emails come come with thanks for riding the ride, writing the journey, and sharing my story. A week from publication, in this time of unknowing, I feel glad for the alpine meadow where we camped, and the snowfed brook where we got our water.

Let it be. A week from today is publication day, and then begins a new adventure. Thanks for sharing it. Thanks for encouragement,

Blessings for the day,

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Why do this?

This morning I spent another two hours with my best friend Google, working through the lists of websites and blogs that deal with lgbt advocacy. If Google is any guide, LGBT equality is all over the net. LGBT equality is on the way

After the two hours and a couple of dozen new messages sent, I'll be lucky if I get one reply. That's the nature of publishing. Wake up every morning, remind yourself why you're doing your book, and start all over with letting people know.

Yesterday I got this reply... sustenance to keep on.

Yes, we will promote your book and your message as it is near and dear
to our own hearts. You see, we also rode bicycles for marriage equality
(the two-wheeled variety). In 2003 we rode from St Augustine Florida to
Dan Diego California and again in 2004 from San Francisco to NYC. There
is a film out about the 2004 ride called 'Lesbian Grandmothers from
MARS: One Couple's Journey for Marriage Equality."

This morning, I read this note in my mailbox:

I am a mother of a 17 year old gay son.....just found out a few months ago. I am scared for my son with this world. My son used to be such a religious boy....has a shelf full of saints etc. I told him that he is not going to hell....God loves him....God made him. I just am so worried for his future. My husband and I feel he cannot tell people at his young age..but we do not want him to feel ashamed either. He needs to talk so he is seeing a gay physcologist. This way he knows we do not want to "change" him, but he needs to talk. I praise you and am proud of you! I told my son about your book. God bless you and be safe.

Sometimes the whole book promotion process feels remote and nebulous. Then I remember that this book is a sign of friendship with the world. and then notes come back that carry friendship, hopes, and dreams, and the world draws closer.

Patience, I remind myself. It's not the end, but the journey itself.

Blessings for this day.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Independence Day and Publication Jitters

I'm jittery about the July 18th publication date, and Dad's advice is sounding pretty good right now. This winter he suggested I put my manuscript up on a shelf and wait five years to see if I still feel the same way about what I've written.

Shelving my book would have saved me from this current "what have I done?" stage I'm navigating through this week. Maybe you're wiser than me and never do this. For me, it goes this way.
  1. Great Idea - Unicycle Straight Into Gay America and write a book.
  2. Do the Project.
  3. Make it public.

Part 2a, right before the Make It Public stage, is my Doubt the Project stage, this tangled emotional mess of perfectionist longings coupled with the realization that the only perfection comes with doing nothing. I've been stuck here before.

Straight Into Gay America continues to reveal more to me. And much of the learning is about closets. Closets are so tempting. Even after all the riding. Even after all the writing. I'm still back here again. If it's like other times, this too shall pass, I'll regain my bearings, and pedal out again on the imperfect journey.

We are Human Beings and we are OK just the way we are.
Every time I sell a pre-ordered book online I get a notice from Blooming Twig Books and I write a brief thank you note to the reader. People are often kind enough to write back. This note arrived this morning, and today, on this Independence Day, I'm going to overcome my doubting self-absorption and focus on the story of this family. Maybe this is the letter to get me over the hump and into the next phase of putting this book out. Listen...

Hi Lars,
I just wanted to thank you for what you are doing. I am a gay woman in the deep south and my partner and I are lucky to work together. We endured several years of harassment at work and we've survived it with our heads held high. I think that once people saw that we were not going to run away and hide, they finally gave up and left us alone. We have been together in a committed relationship for almost 9 years and we are raising two beautiful children together that had been given away and left to perish. I've watched these two children grow and become wonderful people with a great life and an even better future. I know that many American's think that same sex parents aren't good parents and shouldn't have children, but we are living proof that we can be good parents and we can raise great children. We are so grateful to you and to all you have given up to get our message out there. We are human beings and we are ok just the way we are.

Thank you friend.
Thank you friends.
For the power of shared stories.


and on this Independence Day,
prayers for a world that turns toward compassion and care,


Sunday, July 02, 2006

At the Movies. At a Wedding. Supreme Court

Some of us know that Jenny Ting is making a documentary of Straight Into Gay America. She followed the ride last summer and collected 90 hours of tape. Over the winter she got it down to 90 minutes. Now it's down to 60. You need to hit 50 minutes for a documentary showing on television, 35 minutes is you're going to show it with commercials.

I showed up at the studio on Friday night to see progress and to record some more voice sections. Watching the video made me glad all over again, seeing the people I met last summer. No release date yet, but know that Jenny is working, and working, and working on putting this documentary together.

Sunny, beautiful outdoor wedding for Gwen and Joshua yesterday. Holden Village friends from the last three years showed up and it felt like a big reunion. I reveled in the day and remembered my own wedding. The dozen or more queer people at the wedding, most of them with lifelong partners, they celebrated too, but there's no way for them to walk that aisle and receive the same blessing from the state.

Yesterday was a day for celebration, but someday I'll go back and ask my queer friends what emotions they feel when they watch a man and woman walk down the aisle. Is it all celebration. Is it mixed with pain, with anger, with hope??? Next time I see my friends, I'll ask.

What to say about the Supreme Court's decision that Guantanamo Bay is illegal? Finally, a decision for the value of human dignity. Here's thanks to Amnesty International and all those groups and individuals who remain tireless in advocating for a more humane world.