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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lesbian rights pioneer Del Martin dies at 87

This article was written by Rachel Gordon and published in the San Francisco Chronicle .

Lesbian rights pioneer Del Martin, whose trailblazing activism spanned more than five decades, most recently in the battle for same-sex marriage, died Wednesday, just two months after she made history again by wedding her longtime partner in San Francisco City Hall.

Ms. Martin, an author and organizer, died at UCSF Hospice after a long period of declining health. She was 87 and was admitted to the hospital nearly two weeks ago with a broken arm.

Ms. Martin's crusading began in 1955, during an era in America known more for social conformity than for rebellion, when she co-founded a lesbian social-turned-political organization, Daughters of Bilitis, named after a 19th century book of lesbian love poetry.

This year, on June 16, she and her partner of 55 years, Phyllis Lyon, were legally wed. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom officiated. Theirs was among the first same-sex nuptials in California.

"Her last act of activism was her most personal - marrying the love of her life," said Kate Kendell, a longtime friend of the couple and executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

"Ever since I met Del 55 years ago, I could never imagine a day would come when she wouldn't be by my side," Lyon, 83, said in a statement. "I am so lucky to have known her, loved her and been her partner in all things.

"I also never imagined there would be a day that we would actually be able to get married," Lyon said. "I am devastated, but I take some solace in knowing we were able to enjoy the ultimate rite of love and commitment before she passed."

'We're not getting younger'
Ms. Martin had been in failing health for some time, weakened to the point where she was pushed in a wheelchair to her wedding ceremony. In an interview in her hillside Noe Valley home just days before she took her marriage vows in the mayor's office, Ms. Martin described as fortunate the timing of the California Supreme Court decision that gave gays and lesbians the right to marry.

"We're not getting younger," she said.

Ms. Martin and Lyon were plaintiffs in the lawsuit that got the state ban on same-sex marriage lifted. They were married at 5:07 p.m, just minutes after the ruling took effect.

Four years ago, when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom allowed marriage licenses to be issued to gay and lesbian couples in San Francisco in defiance of state law, Ms. Martin and Lyon were the first of about 4,000 same-sex couples to wed and made news internationally. Those marriages were later nullified by the state's high court but paved the way for the successful legal challenge.

"We would never have marriage equality in California if it weren't for Del and Phyllis," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the San Francisco Democrat. "They fought and triumphed in many battles, beginning when they first bought a home together in San Francisco in 1955."

Pelosi called the death of Ms. Martin "a great loss for me personally and for our entire community."

Newsom, who said Ms. Martin "laid the groundwork for all those who want a life of dignity," ordered the flags at City Hall and the rainbow gay-pride flag at Market and Castro streets to be flown at half-staff until sunset today.

Ms. Martin's activist reach extended into the feminist movement when she became the first open lesbian to serve on the board of directors of the National Organization for Women, and she helped spearhead a successful campaign to get the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its roster of mental illnesses.

In 1995, Sen. Dianne Feinstein named her as a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging, where she and Lyon, a delegate appointed by Pelosi, focused attention on the needs of aging gays and lesbians.

Feinstein said Wednesday, "Del and Phyllis were a loving couple, cherished by an entire community. They inspired so many, young and old."

Ms. Martin, whose given name was Dorothy but who went by Del, was born in San Francisco in 1921. Her first marriage, at age 19, was brief but produced a daughter, Kendra Mon, who lives in Petaluma. She also is survived by two grandchildren.

Together for almost 60 years
She and Lyon met in Seattle in 1950 while both were working as journalists for a trade publication. Their friendship turned into a romance two years later. In 1953, on Valentine's Day, the couple moved into a Castro district flat in San Francisco.

After helping found the Daughters of Bilitis, they started a newsletter, called the Ladder, which grew into a magazine focused on lesbian politics and culture.

In the first issue, Ms. Martin set the tone for how she would lead the rest of her life when she wrote: "Nothing was ever accomplished by hiding in a dark corner. Why not discard the hermitage for the heritage that awaits any red-blooded American woman who dares to claim it?"
Cleve Jones took that message to heart when he met the couple in 1972. He was a student at Arizona State University, and the duo went to speak to a gay liberation organization.

"For a kid just out of high school, listening to them was a life-altering experience," said Jones, who later moved to San Francisco, where he worked as a student intern in the City Hall office of gay Supervisor Harvey Milk and founded the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. "They were so confident, so unapologetic, so radical."

And, added Kendell, from the National Center for Lesbian Rights, "so fearless. In every social movement, political movement, there's someone who transcends their time. For lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, Del Martin was one of those people."

Friends and family plan to hold a public tribute to Ms. Martin in the near future. Details have not been set.

Del Martin

  • 1921 - Born on May 5 in San Francisco
  • 1950 - Met the love of her life, Phyllis Lyon
  • 1955 - Co-founded groundbreaking lesbian organization Daughters of Bilitis
  • 1960 - Took over as editor of the Ladder, a monthly lesbian magazine
  • 1964 - Helped found the Council on Religion and the Homosexual, formed to overturn laws that criminalized homosexual behavior
  • 1972 - Co-wrote with Lyon the book "Lesbian/Woman"
  • 1972 - Co-founded with Lyon the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club, the first gay political club in the United States
  • 1976 - Published the book "Battered Wives," which focused on domestic violence
  • 1976 - Appointed chairwoman of the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women
  • 1995 - Served as a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging
  • 2004 - Wed Lyon in the first of about 4,000 same-sex weddings sanctioned by San Francisco but later ruled invalid by the California Supreme Court
  • 2008 - On June 16, married Lyon again, this time with the blessing of the state Supreme Court, which found the state ban on same-sex marriage illegal

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fabulosa Fest 2008 at the Russian River

FABULOSA Fest is a bridge-building, inclusive, queer women, fund-raising festival. All women and friends are invited to attend and participate in this community gathering to raise funds for many different good causes!

Our collective will be distributing proceeds to Lesbian, Gay, BiSexual, Trans and Queer-oriented charities that serve Indigenous People, People of Color, Youth, HIV positive and other communities in Guerneville, San Francisco and beyond.

FABULOSA is a collective of women who are involved in arts and entertainment. It is Fabulosa's mission to create a fund-raising party where diverse groups of women and their friends can come together to celebrate queer women-centered music and art and to raise money for worthwhile causes.

This event is 3 days of live outdoor concerts from a spectrum of incredible women artists and musicians, DJ parties, independent short films and a craft fair.

Date: October 10-12, 2008, over Indigenous People's Day Weekend

Location: Russian River in Guerneville, California.


Friday Oct 10th

FABULOSA Acoustic Music @ the Russian River Resort
6-10pm, 21+
All Inclusive Pass/Wristband or $12 at the door

Joanne Rand 6pm ~ Druid Sisters Tea Party 7:20pm ~ Out On A Clef 8pm
Judea Eden & Amy Meyers w/special guests Jeni Day & Tamra Engle 8:40-10pm

Jump On It! DJ Party
DJ Beyonda and DJ Brainbomb at Yamagata
10pm-2am, 21+
All Inclusive Pass/Wristband or $7 at the door

Karaoke at the Russian River Resort
10pm-2am, 21+

Saturday Oct 11th

FABULOSA All Day Main Stage Concert
Noon-8pm, All ages
All Inclusive Pass/Wristband or $20 at the door
w/ Von Iva, Hottub, LESBIANS, Jenn-Jenn, Audrey Howard and the Misters, 8 Inch Betsy, Angela Chase, Pariah Piranha, Schwule, DJ Beyonda ...and more!

FABULOSA Short Film Fest
8:30pm-11pm, All ages
All Inclusive Pass/Wristband or donation

Artisan Craft Fair
All Inclusive Pass/Wristband or $20 at the door

El Rio’s MANGO @ Yamagata
Hip Hop and Reggaeton Dance Party
w/DJ Edaj and friends
10pm-2am, 21+
All Inclusive Pass/Wristband or $7 at the door

Karaoke at the Russian River Resort
10pm-2am, 21+

Sunday Oct 12

FABULOSA Acoustic Music @ the Russian River Resort
All Inclusive Pass/Wristband or $15 at the door

Jo Boyer 12pm ~ WILDSANG 12:40pm ~ Liquid Girlfriend 1:20pm
Coyote Grace 2pm ~ Jill Knight 2:40pm ~ Woody Simmons 3:20pm
Pam & Jeri (Blame Sally) 4:40pm + more performers TBA soon…

Buy wristbands in advance online at Brown Paper Tickets - $45
Buy wristbands Friday night at Russian River Resort (6-10pm) - $55 (cash only)
After Friday night - cash at the door of each event

Online ticket sales end Sunday October 9th, 2008. Passes are not transferable to any other name. Only the name of the purchaser will be able to pick up the weekend pass. You can purchase your All Inclusive Weekend Pass in advance for a discounted price of $45 ($68 value) at Brown Paper Tickets here: TICKETS ONLINE

To pick up your pass, bring a valid picture ID and your order confirmation to the Russian River Resort Friday, 6-10pm or Saturday at FABULOSA All Day. You must be over 21 years of age for all events except FABULOSA Day Concert.

For more information, including vendors & craft fair details, lodging info an more, visit

5 Reasons Couples Fight and Breakup and What you Can Do About It

by Susie and Otto Collins, Relationship Coaches

Nearly everyone has experienced a relationship breakup or divorce and it can be one of the most painful periods in your life as you try to heal your broken heart. What we have discovered in our relationship coaching practice, many breakups don't have to happen.

So, if breakups don't have to occur, what causes them and how can you prevent them?

Here are four ideas to help you better understand why breakups happen and what you can do to prevent them in your relationship.

1. Old Fears Surface.

It's to be expected that being in an intimate relationship will inevitable bring up fears and challenges from the past. These might include fearing not being good enough, attractive enough, wealthy enough or even feelings of abandonment. If fears are not expected, looked at and healed, they interfere in some way or another with the health of every relationship. Take some time to notice when the fears surface, be loving with
yourself but look inward instead of outward blaming your partner for what clearly is your issue.

Ask yourself if your fears are "true" or are you just making "stories" up in your head. If you are creating those "stories" and there's no basis of truth to them, then change your thinking. It's not always easy to do and it takes moment by moment monitoring of your
thoughts. If you need help and support to make the changes you want in your life, be courageous enough to get it.

You may not have healed your broken heart from past relationships that ended and you find it very difficult to trust your current partner or open your heart completely to him or her. We suggest that you stop living from the hurt of those past relationships and bring yourself into the present moment, without continuing the "stories" of the past. Commit to starting over, allowing your fears to be there but reminding yourself that this is a new day.

2. Not Feeling Understood, Valued, Loved and Appreciated.
Everyone wants to feel understood, valued, loved and appreciated and when we're not, we tend to either withdraw or attack the other person for not meeting our needs. If you want to be appreciated, start appreciating the other people in your life. Sounds simplistic but it really works!

If you are not feeling loved, start being open to seeing and feeling love and appreciation that people are giving you that you may not be aware of in your daily life. It may be that someone allows you to go ahead of them in traffic or tells you to go ahead in a grocery line. Send some appreciation back to them and to everyone around you and watch love snowball in your life.

3. Not Making their Relationship a Priority.
Many couples take each other for granted and don't give their relationship the attention it needs most of the time. The lack of closeness and connection can be overwhelming and can cause great loneliness. Make your relationship a priority in your life. Set aside time everyday to connect with your partner.

We believe that sex happens long before the bedroom. It starts all day long when you have thoughts about your partner--Are these thoughts positive or negative? It continues when you come together--Are you happy to see each other and express love and appreciation or do you great each other with a laundry list of chores, things to be done or grievances?

These are just a couple of ways we make our relationship a priority. Try them in yours!

4. One or Both People are Made to Feel They are "Wrong."
One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they make each other wrong. As soon as critical words are said, defenses and walls go up and suddenly that person who you love and they love you becomes an "enemy."

Before you jump into blaming and judging your partner, stop and take a moment to breathe. Ask yourself if making your partner wrong will drive you further apart or move you closer toward healing. Open your heart to understanding the dynamics of what's going on between the two of you. Understand the full story before you start making someone wrong. So often we assume to know what is in someone's heart and we really don't. Take the time to find out!

5. Not healing your heart after a previous relationship breakup
Many people go from relationship to relationship without truly healing their hearts. They never discover what went wrong in their previous relationship and what they could have done differently. They keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again and always expect a different outcome.

We suggest that you take the time to heal your broken heart and your attachment to being a victim, in being right or whatever holds you to a previous relationship. Spend some energy in taking responsibility for what happened, forgiving yourself and your previous partner, and deciding what you want to change in your life.

If you are interested in more information to help you heal from a relationship breakup, visit

Monday, August 25, 2008

How quickly should I start dating after a relationship breakup?

by Susie and Otto Collins, Relationship Coaches

After a breakup, it's important to take some time to figure out what you learned by being in that relationship, what you would have liked to have done differently, and what you want from a new relationship. While it's important to take some time to heal, it's also important not to take too much time focusing on the past.

In other words, there are no hard and fast rules about when to start dating again. With that being said, here are five guidelines for knowing when or if it's time to start getting out in circulation again...

1. Make sure that you have made completions around old relationships. If you need to do some work around forgiving your ex, do it. If you need to stop thinking about how things used to be with an ex before your breakup, do it. You are not ready to begin dating and attract anyone who you will truly want to be with if you are still emotionally tied to someone else. Don't begin dating to blot out the memory of an old relationship. Do your healing first!

2. If you have relationship trust issues (most people do after a breakup), begin learning how to build trust in new relationships. Make a list of how you and your ex destroyed trust and then make another list of how you can build trust with a new partner. If you get stumped, start thinking about how you like to be treated in relationships and make your list from those thoughts.

3. If you had jealousy issues in your previous relationship, you need to learn how to overcome jealousy before you begin dating. Many people believe that the problem will fix itself if you are in a new relationship. Wrong! Jealousy will just keeping showing up in new relationships over and over again until it has been dealt with.

4. Decide if you want a monogamous relationship or not and how you'd like to be treated. In dating situations, there are often unclear expectations around infidelity and what that means. The breakup might have been caused largely because of infidelity in past relationships so it's even more important to start a new relationship with clear agreements and to absolutely know what you want.

5. Be open to meeting new people--not with the idea of finding your perfect romantic partner, but rather to learn how to open your heart once again to others. So often a new partner will show up quite unexpectantly if you're not looking. So open to being who you really are, with no false masks, and begin to live your new future.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Living in the Present

Some believe that only one person in a thousand knows the trick of really living in the present.

Most of us spend 59 minutes of every hour living in the past, with regrets for lost joys, shame for things badly done (both utterly useless and weakening) - or in a future which we either long for or dread.

Yet the past is gone beyond prayer, and every minute spent in the vain effort to anticipate the future is a moment lost forever.

There is only one world, the world pressing against you this minute.

There is only one minute in which you are alive, this minute - here and NOW.  The only way to live is by accepting each minute as an unrepeatable miracle, which is exactly what it is - a miracle and unrepeatable.

-Storm Jameson

Thursday, August 21, 2008

My Melissa Etheridge Revival Tour Experience

I have been a Melissa Etheridge fan since I first started dating women in 1988, and although I have seen her in concert 6 or 7 times, I have to admit, over the past 8 years I haven’t been much of a follower. So when I won a pair of second row seats to her August 20th “Revival” show at the Wells Fargo Center in Santa Rosa, I really wasn’t THAT excited. However, to my surprise, I was totally and completely blown away by Melissa’s performance; I never expected such a powerful and heartfelt show. The woman I saw on stage was not the same woman I had seen so many times before in concert. Melissa has transformed to a vibrant, openhearted and spiritually conscious musician... it was amazing to see the direction her life has taken since her experience with cancer.

With no opening act, Melissa and her four-piece band (veteran drummer Fritz Lewak, bassist Mark Browne, keyboard/guitarist Paul Trudeau and her lead guitarist Philip Sayce, who was amazing) played for almost 3 hours. They played some old favorites, as well as many of the songs from her latest album, The Awakening.

Being at the concert was like listening to an autobiography of Melissa’s experiences from the past 2o years. Her life unfolded before us, through both her stories and her songs. She spoke openly about her failed relationships, her experience with cancer, and her newfound faith in just knew she had found a peace and a purpose in her life; it was truly a moving experience.

So if you have the opportunity to catch one of her shows, don’t even think twice about it, you won’t be disappointed.

And if your interested, this is the list of songs she played at the show:
All There Is
I Take You with Me
Shriner's Park
The Angels
An Unexpected Rain
Bring Me Some Water
I Want to Come Over
I'm the Only One
If You Wanted To
A Simple Love/Yes I Am
Heal Me (OMG!)
I Run for Life
2001/I Need to Wake Up
Message to Myself/Come to My Window
All We Can Really Do
The Kingdom of Heaven
Open Your Mind
The Universe Listened
Imagine That
What Happens Tomorrow

Not Tonight/Like the Way I Do/Not Tonight

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What is Undefended Love Part 3

This is part 3 of the excerpts from the book Undefended Love by by Jett Psaris, PH.D and Marlena Lyons, PH.D.

Agreements: How they can prolong closeness and prevent intimacy

A partnership rooted in the healthy closeness stage values equality; the couple places an emphasis on creating and maintaining a foundation of "shared-power" as opposed to "power-over." Since we choose to take someone else's desires into account, we negotiate instead of simply taking or being taken from. This ability and desire to compromise, however, can lead to more sophisticated approaches to maintaining our defense structure. Surprisingly enough…

Because making agreements is based on a couple's common interest in resolving a problem or issue, this method surpasses the fighting and despairing experiences that are common at the level of unhealthy dependency. This capacity reflects an increase in the maturity and flexibility of the partners. When an agreement is not kept, they generally go back to the bargaining table and negotiate, compromise and barter in order to get the relationship back on track.

This ability to forge and keep agreements is a prerequisite to undefended loving. However, instead of helping us find ways to dismantle the walls between us, making agreements leaves them unchallenged and intact. If we wish to move beyond healthy closeness we must shift our focus off agreements and onto what we are trying to "get" by making them. For example, when an agreement breaks down, rather than re-negotiate a new one, we can instead use the opportunity as a gateway to new levels of personal growth.

Dissolving our defenses

If we are to realize our potential to know ourselves as whole and loving, to express the open, present beings we are, and to love ourselves and others from the undefended core of our being, we must turn and face all the places where we are stuck, wounded, withholding and contracted. We must…

…work directly with all that we fear, resist, vilify, disown and reject. This includes our primitive or undeveloped aspects, negative self-images, emotional attachments, what we project as "other" and deny within ourselves, our self-doubt, judgment, greed, hostility, shame, confusion, and anything else that we consider negative or unpleasant.

It is in grappling with these "demons" rather than avoiding them that we dissolve our shields. Undefended partners do not conspire to eliminate emotional pain and uncomfortable feelings; they are allied with each other in learning how to use whatever presents itself - unresolved losses, disappointments, dissatisfactions, needs, unworthiness, boredom, loneliness, depression, resentments, lust - in ways that allow them to reveal their essence to themselves and each other.

Embedded in the desire for intimacy is the understanding that our potential includes a wide range of experience, whose expression brings out the richness of all that is human. When we live within the comfort zone of our defended personalities, we confine our existence much in the way a pianist would be limited if the only key he could use was Middle C. The journey to the heart of undefended intimacy is about regaining the use of our entire keyboard, not repetitively banging out our Middle C identities.

Intimate allies

Exposing ourselves to what we expect will be emotional annihilation is not easy. It means staying with an issue in the presence of our partners when continuing is the hardest thing to do. It means stretching to stay open even if shutting down is our main line of defense. It means …

…speaking about what we are feeling when we are paralyzed with fear. And it means remaining fully present without lashing out when we experience our partners as critical, blaming or attacking. It even means staying with feeling bad, inadequate, less than or lacking without doing something to distract ourselves so we can feel better.

In an undefended relationship, instead of bandaging the symptoms, we make a conscious choice to perform the operation that will get to and remove the cause of the pain. We are committed to helping each other dissolve, not resolve, our issues. We encourage each other to dive into the truth of our raw inner experience - encountering the core emotional belief that we are unwanted, "less than" or flawed - certain that shoring up the personality's defenses is not going to serve either of us in the long-term.

While our partner's role is to resist the temptation to fix or distract us from what we are feeling, our role is to endure the resulting discomfort until we unearth the root of our distress. We realize that all our fears and inadequacies are demons we need to encounter on our way back to our open hearts.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What is Undefended Love Part 2

This is part 2 of the excerpts from the book Undefended Love by by Jett Psaris, PH.D and Marlena Lyons, PH.D.

The role of compassion

As we begin to unmask our negative self-images, we can feel a great deal of hurt and the fear of being hurt further. We may also experience self-loathing rising from the shame and assumed ugliness associated with our initial inability to absorb this new information. Usually, we contract around these feelings. We want to protect ourselves, run away, hide, defend, attack or go to sleep. Staying with this investigation in a nonreactive way requires something special, something to help us hold our ground and observe the truth exactly as it is, without trying to change it.

But we are extremely vulnerable organisms and our knee-jerk reaction to seeing a truth that is confusing or threatening is to remove ourselves immediately. What can we do about this? Our hearts naturally want to be open, but when exposed to deep pain we behave like wounded animals - our instinct is to close down, escape and protect ourselves. Emotional pain can be a powerful obstacle to our hearts being open in a completely undefended way.

And yet our fear, pain and even self-loathing is precisely what we need to approach if we wish to be less defended. "The distance from your pain, your grief, your unattended wounds" remarks authors Stephen and Ondrea Levine, "is the distance from your partner." Our discomfort is a great indicator, pointing out the places where we are disconnecting from ourselves and from each other.

Compassion is specifically helpful in facing our fears and allowing us to remain committed to the truth. Compassion is the personal ally that will help us take on the difficulties we face as we strive for a completely undistorted view of ourselves. Its purpose, simply put, is to allow the heart to stay open in the face of fear and pain. It allows us to tolerate these uncomfortable feelings so we can restrain our impulse to avoid or control them; it allows us to remain open to the present moment.

Closeness, a safe container

There is nothing wrong with using our relationships to work through issues of dependency. In fact, relationship may be the best place to work through them. What we are concerned with here is not that we are dependent but the level and duration of the dependency. The ability to move beyond an "other-focus" requires that we remain attentive to the feelings and reactions stirred within us, rather than turning our attention toward our partners to the exclusion of ourselves. Our closeness becomes a safe container, a kind of greenhouse in which we feel secure and supported to look at ourselves while we are developing our own self-reliance. Ultimately we must leave the warmth and comfort of these controlled conditions, recognizing that it will be harmful if we try to stay safe for too long. We must remain mindful that these are temporary supports - training wheels - and that our dependence on them must be incrementally released as we develop greater balance and self-reliance. Through vigilant self-examination of our impulse to blame others for the discomfort we are feeling, we can get closer to exposing our negative self-concepts for what they are. We must remain mindful, however, that to develop the inner resources necessary for undefended intimacy we need both support- in the form of closeness - and the absence of support - times when we feel abandoned, betrayed and unwelcome.

The mutually supportive context of a close relationship provides the constancy that is necessary for us to begin shifting from an outer-directed life to one that is inner-directed.

Tomorrow will be the last 3 book excerpts, they will be on "Agreements: How they can prolong closeness and prevent intimacy," "Dissolving our defenses" and "Intimate allies."

Monday, August 18, 2008

What is Undefended Love

I have recently started attending a class called "Healthy Relationships," which is based on a book called Undefended Love, by Jett Psaris, PH.D and Marlena Lyons, PH.D. The basic concept of this class is to assist us in learning how to create the intimacy that we often feel is missing in our relationships. As Dr. Psaris & Dr. Lyons put it, "Intimacy can only occur when the heart is undefended. To cut through our personal differences means learning how to love and be loved without defenses and without obstructions. It means cultivating the capacity to be emotionally present, even we we feel exposed or vulnerable, learning to relinquish the many strategies we have employed to feel safe and in control. Through developing the capacity for intimacy in this way, we discover love as an abiding presence in the emotional center of our being, our heart and we can never again feel emotionally disconnected, incomplete or unloved."

I have found this class, as well as the book, to be amazingly eye-opening and life-altering. The book Undefended Love begins by explaining Our Longing for Intimacy, then moves on to topics such as Finding Our Essential Self, Beginning our journey to Undefended Love, Yearning for Closeness with Another, Yearning for Connection with Ourselves, Moving Beyond the Impulse to REACT, Relaxing the Need to Have Our Needs Met, and finally, Dissolving Our Defenses.

This is one of those books that you wish you had read before you even thought about being in a relationship...but I believe it is never to late to change your life, if that is truly what YOU want.

The information from this book has made such an positive impression on my life, that I felt it was necessary to include some of the book excerpts on my blog. Since there are quite a few, I will post them throughout the week. I hope you find them as enlightening as I have.

About Intimacy

Many of us think of intimacy as having sex, being physically or emotionally close or exchanging deeply held confidences. But if specific behaviors such as these produce intimacy, then why don't we experience intimacy each time we do them? What makes one sexual encounter intimate and another not? If cultivating closeness is an avenue to intimacy, why do so many couples who have attained it report flatness, boredom, loss of vitality or a sense of being "stuck" rather than feeling passionately alive in each other's presence? If confiding in another is supposed to bring about intimacy, why does one communication make us flush to our roots while another leaves us untouched and unmoved?

Behaviors are not the source of our intimate experiences. That is why the use of the term intimacy as a euphemism for being sexual is so misleading. While some of us have experienced true intimacy and union through sex, what is intimate is not the behavior itself but the state of being we reach within ourselves and with our partners.

We all know what it feels like to experience a deeper part of ourselves, outside our daily routines and superficial exchanges. It is this feeling that we reclaim during moments of profound connection with another - a deep experience of ourselves. This is the key to intimacy: our ability to dive below the familiar world of our "outer self" into the less understood provenance of our human potential.

Finding intimacy begins with discovering ourselves, not with "fixing" or "controlling" ourselves or our partners. We have to be visible before we can be seen. We have to be available before our hearts can be affected. And we have to be present before we can be intimate. When we can drop all pretense and relate with a heart that is undefended, we can finally discover the unmistakable connection with our authentic selves and with our partner that we long for.

What is our essential self?

In the work of cultivating intimacy it is helpful to draw a distinction between our essential self and our essential nature. In many of the world's spiritual traditions, the most profound realization, the culmination of all spiritual quests, involves directly experiencing our essential nature. Variously referred to as the Absolute, The Ground Of All Being, our True Nature or our Original Face, this is the underlying nature of all existence. It is the impersonal, formless, timeless and changeless aspect of who we all are. Our essential self is our uniqueness. Think of a cloudless, star-studded evening sky. Now imagine the stars as cut-aways, letting light from beyond pass through them. That all-pervasive light from beyond is our essential nature, and the light that takes on the shape and form of each star is our essential self. We all share the same essential nature, that all-pervasive light, but each of us is a separate and unique manifestation of it.

Like snowflakes, we are all of a common substance, yet no two of us are alike. It is our "individuality" that we tend to fall in love with in each other: the way we hold and bring forth our essential nature through some very unique pattern that distinguishes us from others.

If all our ideas about who we are, who we aren't and who we are supposed to be were boiled away, the nectar remaining would be a sense of personal being, a pure sense of existence, of presence, of "I am." This is our essential self, and its qualities, like those of the baby and the enlightened master, are pure and unrehearsed. Through undefended encounters, we come to know and share with another this essence of who we are. Sometimes the experience is of a personal and individual love, an outflowing from the unique experience of our essential self. At other times the love is more universal, for everyone and everything, emerging from our connection with our essential nature.

Oregon's Anti-Domestic Partner Measure Fails

by Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

Domestic partnership rights for same-sex couples in Oregon remained intact Thursday as a federal appeals court upheld state election officials' findings that a referendum to repeal the partnership law had fallen 96 signatures short of qualifying for the November ballot.

The law, passed last year, made Oregon one of nine states to give legal recognition to same-sex unions. It provides registered partners with the same benefits held by married couples under state law, including property and inheritance rights and hospital visitation. It does not include federal marriage benefits, such as Social Security and immigration rights and joint federal tax filing.

The law is similar to California's domestic partner law. The California partnership law offers same-sex couples an alternative to marriage, a right they won in a May 15 state Supreme Court ruling that could be overturned by a November ballot initiative. Unlike the Oregon partnership law, which applies only to same-sex couples, the California law is also open to opposite-sex couples in which one partner is at least 62.

About 2,500 Oregon couples have signed up since the law took effect in February, said Karynn Fish, spokeswoman for the gay rights group Basic Rights Oregon.

"This means these 2,500 committed couples can finally get on with their lives and not have to worry about whether their rights will be suddenly taken away," she said.

Attorney Austin Nimocks of the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christian organization representing sponsors of the referendum, said the ruling disenfranchised Oregonians whose signatures weren't counted.

"The people didn't thwart this effort, government bureaucracy did," he said.

The law was signed in May 2007 and was due to take effect in January, but a federal judge put it on hold for a month while considering opponents' challenge to state election officials' refusal to place their referendum on the November ballot.

Needing 55,179 valid signatures, sponsors of the referendum turned in 62,000 signatures on petitions to election officials, who followed standard procedures by examining a random sample. After invalidating signatures that didn't match those on registration cards, they concluded that only 55,083 valid signatures had been submitted.

The judge upheld the signature-counting process on Feb. 1 and was affirmed Thursday by a three-judge appeals court panel, which said Oregon took reasonable measures to validate petition signatures.

Sponsors of the referendum argued that election officials should have notified voters whose signatures were rejected and given them a chance to prove their identity. But the court said county registrars are trained in signature verification, allow sponsors of a ballot measure to attend the counting sessions and challenge their decisions, and refer all rejected signatures to a second elections official for added scrutiny.

The ruling is Lemons vs. Bradbury.

IDKE 10th Annual International Drag King Community Extravaganza

After 10 years of travel, the IDKE 10th Annual International Drag King Community Extravaganza is returning home to Columbus, Ohio. So if you have any interest in Drag King shows, and you happen to be in or near the Colombus Ohio area on October 16-19th, then be sure to head over to this amazing event.

The INTERNATIONAL DRAG KING COMMUNITY EXTRAVAGANZA (IDKE) is the largest GENDERXPLORATION of its type in North America and quite possibly the world. During the past nine years, IDKE boasts attendees from over 35 states, 7 Canadian Providences, Australia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Japan, Sweden and Taiwan, just to name a few. An estimated 70% of IDKE attendees return each year, eager to re-charge, network, celebrate and ‘trade resources.’ Core to the IDKE Philosophy is the belief that, in addition to scholarship and entertainment, ‘we’ must create a variety of options for artist, service providers, entrepreneurs, organizations, and individuals to ‘do business.’

IDKE's 4-day schedule includes: Workshops, Presentations, Art Exhibitions, Film Festival, Job Fair, Transman Health Fair, Merchant Fair, and International Drag Performances.

A Brief History of IDKE:

The First International Drag King Extravaganza (IDKE) took place on October 15-17, 1999 in Columbus, Ohio. IDKE was created by Julie Applegate (Jake), Shani Scott (Maxwell), Sile Singleton (Luster/Lustivious de la Virgion) and Donna Troka (dj love), in conjunction with H.I.S. Kings, Fast Friday Productions, the Kings Court, as well as other Columbus, Ohio community members.

IDKE is a unique event in that it is a collaborative, non-competitive gathering of drag kings, fans, and those who enjoy photographing and filming them. In October 2003, IDKE realized its true potential as a traveling annual conference with its move to Minneapolis, Minnesota, IDKE 6 in Chicago, Illinois, IDKE 7 in Winnipeg, Canada, IDKE 8 in Austin, Texas and IDKE 9 in Vancouver, Canada.

Over the years IDKE has grown to a major national and international event with participants from the US, Canada, Australia, Japan and the UK.

More Information:

If your interested in being a part of this event, or just attending IDKE 10, please checkout their website at

Friday, August 15, 2008

2008 Northern California Conference on Transgender Health & Wellness

Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa and the Sonoma County Academic Foundation for Excellence in Medicine present the 2008 Northern California Conference on Transgender Health and Wellness

October 10 - 11, 2008
Friday program 12:30 pm - 5:30 pm
Friday reception 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Saturday program 7:30 am - 5:30 pm

The Event Center
Sonoma Mountain Village
1400 Valley House Drive
Rohnert Park, CA 94928

Studies Indicate:

  • At least one person in 500 is transgender. The transgender population in Sonoma County is estimated to be 1,000.
  • Locally many transgender individuals report difficulty finding knowledgeable providers who are comfortable with transgender health issues. Consequently, they either avoid utilizing health care services (even for routine care) or seek services in other counties.
  • Gender variant youth and adults are at risk for social isolation, chemical dependence,
    physical and emotional trauma, elevated incidence of depression and suicide and HIV/AIDS, and resorting to "street" hormones and silicone injections.

Conference Purpose:

  • Expand the clinical knowledge and comfort level of medical and mental health care professionals to provide quality care to transgender people of all ages

For more information, please visit Sonoma County Academic Foundation for Excellence in Medicine.

Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres will Marry This Weekend

US Magazine just reported that Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, will wed this weekend in California.

The pair are planning a small, intimate ceremony with only a few close friends and family.

Following the California Supreme Court's monumental ruling that same sex couple's have the "right to marry," DeGeneres announced she planned to wed her longtime girlfriend on a taping of her show in May.

"It's something that we've wanted to do and we want it to be legal and we are very, very excited," DeGeneres, gushed.

DeGeneres reflected on their upcoming nuptials at the Daytime Emmy Awards in Hollywood in June.

"I think someday people will look back on this like women not having the right to vote and segregation and anything else that seems ridiculous that we don't all have the same rights," DeGeneres said.

Of the preparations, DeGeneres joked, "Planning a wedding is very stressful. It's crazy. My gardener is now invited."

DeGeneres and de Rossi began dating in December 2004.

"I feel like I found my perfect fit," DeGeneres said of de Rossi in an interview with the Advocate.

"She’s taught me lessons about myself, and I feel like I’ve taught her," DeGeneres added.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Co-Creative Communication

Although this is a long article, it is definitely worth reading...

Written by Lynne Forrest
Open communication is an essential part of maintaining any relationship and yet these skills are rarely taught outside the walls of a counselor’s office. Most of us don’t even know the components of good communication. Positive dialogue includes the ability to both share truthfully and listen openly, but we must first know ourselves before we can do either. Self realization is a pre-requisite of authentic discourse . . . intimacy is the result. Unfortunately, most of us have repressed and denied our internal state for so long that we really have no idea of who we are. As a result, true sharing is impossible.

We often assume that we’re communicating just fine, when in fact we may be as much at fault as anyone for the relating failures we experience. Having grown up watching our role models avoid, deny and escape their inner realities, we incorporate very distorted ideas about what it means to relate with authenticity. We learn to focus on how others “make” us feel, resorting to blame and projection rather than honest sharing. We then tend to carry these projections and distortions into our listening, so that what we hear is often NOT what was said or intended. No wonder we are so often convinced that honest communication is a dangerous thing!

Because we often tend to see things in terms of “black or white”, we buy into a notion that there is only one truth. Furthermore, we are convinced that we are the ones who know what that is. If “they” don’t see it our way, then “they” are simply wrong . . . end of conversation. However this leaves no room for a difference in opinion or separate perception. Much like the blind men who were placed around the elephant, we each hold a “piece of the truth”, which when shared, presents a totally different perspective, depending on what part of the “elephant” we are describing. How many times in life do we, blind to the others view, rail against them, simply because we see the “tail” and they the “trunk” of a situation? When we get trapped into thinking that ours is the only reality, discordant communication is the usual unhappy outcome.

As a result of these kinds of painful encounters, we become convinced that open communication doesn’t work. We tell ourselves that honesty creates disharmony, or that others can’t handle our truth; “It will hurt their feelings, or they will fall apart, and then it will be my fault.” We convince ourselves that if we speak our minds freely, we will be rejected, or attacked and we decide to keep quiet instead. With such faulty reasoning, we not only talk ourselves out of an opportunity for intimate discourse, but we also fail to take care of ourselves. Sooner or later we discover that instead of preventing problems, stuffing our hurt feelings and opinions only leads to further alienation. The very thing we have convinced ourselves will happen if we do speak up is the thing that is created because we don’t. Here’s why.

As soon as we repress something, regardless of whether it’s a feeling, resentment, or unwanted behavior, we are keeping a secret. Secrets inevitably create distance, because detachment is a natural consequence of holding back. Of course, the other person feels the separation between us, but because they don’t know what it’s about, they make up their own story. They then project this onto us, as if it’s fact. (More likely it’s a distortion based on their own dysfunctional convictions about life, and probably has nothing to do with the given situation.) As a result, they pull away. Real disharmony comes about when we start blasting each other out-loud with our various projections and assumptions.

This happens more often than I like to admit in my own life, even knowing what I do about the outcome of with-holding. My mate does or says something which I interpret in a negative way and I feel resentment. Because that is not acceptable, I immediately deny and stuff my feelings. He feels the resulting distance and makes up his own story about what is going on, which he then lays on me as “the way it is”. We can go round after round with each other, both convinced that we are right, and growing ever more frustrated that the other one refuses to “hear us”. Sound familiar?

For relationships to flourish, we must be willing to understand that blaming, interpreting and projecting onto the other all the things they‘ve done to us is not honest sharing. For one thing, we can only speak with authority about our own reality, not theirs. Besides, it is rare indeed that anyone (outside ourselves) is doing anything to us anyway.

No-one else can “make us” feel. Put simply, our emotional truth is determined by the way we interpret what goes on around us. This perception is founded upon our life experience ... our history. Until we take responsibility for the way our personal biography affects the way we view things, we will go on blaming and projecting! Once we recognize that every individual sees life through their own uniquely tainted lens, we begin to comprehend the etiology of relational discord. We can then begin to allow others to have their own realities, rather than insisting that ours is the only (right) one.

For instance, if I announce in class that we‘re taking the afternoon off, every student will react according to their own interpretation of what’s been said. Whereas one student may rejoice because it means the afternoon free, another may spiral into anger, feeling cheated out of an expensive session. One may see it as a reward for work well done, while another hears it as an implication of her unimportance to me. The point being that every single person will react according to their own interpretation. There will be as many “truths” as there are individuals in the room.

This brings us to the other half of the open communication process . . . that of becoming responsible listeners. This means learning how to listen without distortion or condemnation. Otherwise, we may find that others do not choose to share freely with us, and we will go on verifying all the delusions we hold about the dangers involved in being authentic.

People instinctively revert to dishonesty when they don’t feel safe. If a mother catches her three year old with her hand in the forbidden cookie-jar and angrily demands, “Are you into the cookies!?” What do you think that terrified child’s immediate response is likely to be? Denial, right? Even though she has been caught red-handed, her fear will prompt her to choose self-protection over honesty. The same holds true, irregardless of our age. Dishonesty is born out of fear. Our challenge then is to become a safe harbor for honesty. We can encourage truthful sharing by maintaining an attitude of open acceptance.

Interrogative listening may work in the courtroom, but it often fails miserably in real life. Sometimes we are tempted to try and interrogate someone into “confession”. Consider instead, turning your questions into statements of personal truth. For instance, rather than asking “Are you lying?”,(which is likely to induce an immediate defensive response) you might state; “I’m afraid that you’re not telling me everything.” Here, you are sharing an honest concern, rather than attempting to corner them with an accusatory question.

When we fail at being safe listeners, we may very well find that others are not willing to tell us how they really feel, or see things. For instance, if we constantly interrupt when someone is trying to relate something important to us, we send the message that we’re not really interested in hearing them.

Sometimes we tell ourselves that we can’t handle what others have to say. This is a dangerous conviction. It is one that can set us up for a lifetime of being tip-toed around, with friends and loved ones sharing with us only watered down versions of their realities, at best. Superficial relationships result.

If we use what is shared with us to manipulate, or attack, either overtly or with stony silence, we definitely are not practicing safe listening. This kind of behavior creates tension and distance and leads to loneliness and isolation. There is no way others will want to share their innermost realities with us if they feel judged or ridiculed.

The best way to practice skillful communication is to be willing to set aside, for the moment, your own version of reality. Remind yourself that your truth is probably not the way they see it. Be willing, as the old saying goes, to “walk a mile in their moccasins”, by listening to them with total presence. Allow yourself to really hear what they’re saying and then mirror back only what you heard, rather than your interpretation. Too often, we listen only long enough to snatch a word or phrase that will serve to prove our point. We then jump in with our rebuttal, or accumulated “evidence”, without having heard them at all. Such defensiveness leads to assuming an offensive stance. We attack, thinking we are merely defending ourselves. If, on the other hand, we are willing to practice being safe listeners, then there’s a good chance that our partner will be able to relax and set aside their own affront long enough to return the favor.

Knowing our truth and speaking it, along with unbiased listening are the essentials for providing safe, honest and loving relations. As we consistently practice these things, our capacity for intimacy and creativity increases. As a result, we exude authenticity at all levels, which inspires others to want to participate with us in the art of co-creative communication.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Healthy Relationships:Partners in the Journey

Article written by Robert Burney, Spiritual Teacher, codependence counselor, grief therapist, author.

A healthy romantic relationship is about two whole, independent people choosing to become partners in the life journey for as long as that works for both of them. This is, of course, a theoretical concept. Because of the cultural dysfunction and emotional trauma all of us have experienced due to the human condition, we are never, in this lifetime, going to be a completely whole healthy person with no emotional wounds - and we are never going to meet someone else that has no emotional wounds.

The goal is to be in the process of healing and to choose a partner who is also in the process of healing. Then we have the opportunity to achieve some True emotional intimacy and to have some companionship on our journey. The person who can support us in our journey is also going to be the teacher we need to push our buttons so that we can bring to Light the emotional wounds that need to be healed and the subconscious programming that needs to be changed.

If we expect a romantic relationship to "fix" us so that we can live happily-ever-after then we are setting ourselves up to be victims. If we define a successful relationship as one that lasts forever and meets all of our needs, then we will end up blaming ourselves or the other person when that insane expectation is not met. (That a relationship could last for the rest of our lives is not an insane expectation but if we believe that longevity is the only way a relationship can be successful we are setting ourselves up to sabotage the relationship and not appreciate the gifts we are receiving in the now.)

It is vitally important to make healing and Spiritual growth our number one priority so that we can look to the other person for help and support - not expect them to rescue us and give us self worth. Healing is an inside job. My issues are my responsibility to work through, it is not the other persons job to compromise her self to accommodate my fears and insecurities. If I am choosing wisely when I enter into a relationship then I will choose someone who will be compassionate, patient, and supportive of me while I work through my issues.

And no matter how wisely I choose, or how much healing and recovery the other person has had, she will still be a human being with her own issues to work through so she will not always be able to be patient, compassionate, and supportive. For one person to expect another to always be there for them, to always have the space and time to be available to us, is another insane expectation.

We do want to choose someone who is willing to work through issues. When another person is willing to do the work with us, a relationship can be an incredibly nurturing, magical space to explore what True Love means - some of the time. It can not be that all of the time. There might be periods of time - days, weeks, even months - where things are going beautifully and it feels like we may have reached "happily ever after". But then things will change and get different. That is how the life process works - it will not be someone's fault. It will be a new opportunity for growth for both people.

Two people who are working through their issues and are willing to do the grief work, can turn an argument about some stupid, mundane life event into some mutual deep grieving. That is True emotional intimacy.

When we are willing to own our power to be the neutral observer who can see our responsibility in whatever is happening without shame and judgment, and can also have the courage and willingness to hold the other person responsible for their behavior without shame and judgment - then the magic can really happen.

Two people who have negotiated some guidelines to help them in times when they are vulnerable and reactive - can transform an argument about some symptom into an opportunity to heal some core wounding.

The way that can look is:

an argument/disagreement starts about some behavior that is upsetting (someone is late, or forgets something that is important to the other, or says something in an insensitive way, etc.);
at some point one of the individuals says "Time out. I think I might be reacting to some old stuff.";

The other person backs off the argument enough to say "How old are you feeling?"; etc.

Two people who have created the space to do this can then get down to the cause underneath the reaction, which might be something like: one person is reacting out of the child inside who never felt important, respected, or heard - while the other person is reacting out of the inner child who was always being criticized and given the message that there was something wrong with them. At that point, they are dealing with the core cause of the reaction not the symptomatic behavior. They can achieve a place of True emotional honesty and intimacy where they can get in touch with their individual wounds and grieve together. That is the kind of emotional intimacy which can form a very deep bond and be Joyously healing for both people.

To be willing to be conscious and emotionally honest with ourselves is a courageous act of faith that will allow us to progressively increase the number of moments in each day that we have the ability and freedom to be happy and Joyous in the now. To find another being who is willing to join us in this adventure, and to explore True emotional intimacy with us, is a priceless gift to be cherished and treasured.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Healthy Relationships: Emotional Honesty Necessary

Article written by Robert Burney, Spiritual Teacher, codependence counselor, grief therapist, author.

The single biggest problem with most relationships is that there are too many people involved. A romantic relationship is supposed to be two people in partnership sharing of who they are, sharing their hearts, minds, bodies, and souls with each other.

Anyone who has not done their emotional healing is bringing a plethora of people into any relationship they get involved in. Some of these people include: parents, siblings, relatives; ministers, teachers, the junior high school bully; everyone that they have ever had a romantic relationship with; the Prince and Princess of fairy tales, the lyrics of songs, and the characters from books and movies. Just to think of how many ghosts are in the room, when two unconscious people are interacting, is mind boggling.

Anyone who is unconscious to how the people and events of their past have shaped who they are today, is incapable of being present in the now and having a healthy relationship. When we are reacting unconsciously to the emotional wounds and old tapes from our childhoods, we are being emotionally dishonest in the moment - we are mostly reacting to how we felt in a similar dynamic in the past, not clearly responding to what is happening in the present.

The single most important component in a healthy relationship is the ability to communicate. We cannot communicate clearly when we are in reaction because we are not being emotionally honest with ourselves.

We all learned to see life and self from a dysfunctional perspective - from a perspective that taught us it was shameful to be bad or wrong. We learned to blame. Since the perspective of life which civilization is founded upon is black and white, right and wrong - we got the message that if we could not figure out how to blame someone else, then it must be our fault. Toxic shame is the feeling that I am somehow defective, that there is something wrong with who I am as a being. That feeling of being defective is so painful that we are willing to do almost anything to avoid sinking into that abyss of pain within.

So we blame someone or something outside of ourselves to protect our self. A dysfunctional civilization which teaches us to look outside for our self worth, also teaches us to look outside for a villain.

Codependence is an emotional defense system which tries to take ego credit for things that go the way we want them to, and blames someone else when they do not.

If a person has not been working on healing these emotional wounds, then any feedback will be felt as criticism - as being wrong or bad - and the persons defense system reacts by becoming defensive. The best defense is a good offense, as they say, so many times we go on the offensive pointing out where the other person is wrong or bad. When confronted we blame. We either blame the other or we blame ourselves - in which case we sink into depression and despair, into alcohol, drugs, and food, etc.

This is the reason that most relationships turn into power struggles about who is right and who is wrong. Who has more right to feel victimized by the other. We come up with whatever justification and rationalization we can to deflect the blame from ourselves - as a way of self preservation.

These behaviors are not bad or shameful. They are the inevitable dynamic set up when two people, who have not healed their emotional wounds and changed their dysfunctional programming, interact. We are powerless over the dynamic until we start becoming co-creators of our life by healing the past so that it is not dictating our life today.

It is impossible to Truly hear what another person is saying when we are busy loading up the big guns for our counter attack. We cannot be present in the moment if our emotional defenses are triggered by what is happening now. And these triggers can be a tone of voice, a gesture (pointing a finger), a word or phrase, almost anything. When old wounds are gouged we are pulled out of the now into our feelings from the past.

Once we start learning how to recognize when we are reacting and being defensive, then we can start getting more emotionally honest - with our self and with others. When we learn how to intervene in our own process so that we are not living life in reaction to old wounds then we start being capable of having healthy emotional intimacy. When two people are both working on their healing there is a possibility of communication and emotional honesty.

The more we heal the past, the fewer people are intruding on our relationship in the moment. Those people - our parents or past romantic partners - will still be in our psyche but we will be conscious enough to recognize them when they start invading the now. Then we can communicate what we are learning about our self from our reactions to our partner and share our pain and fear and anger and sadness with her - that is True emotional intimacy.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Supernatural Lesbian Crime Show

The Buzz around the Lesbian Entertainment world is that writer/Director Linda Andersson has just finished a new TV pilot about a lesbian detective with psychic powers, called The Seer.

The storyline from the website goes something like this:

As a child, Guin Marcus [played by Deborah Stewart] was forced by her mother to suppress her "Seer" powers, knowing how difficult that life path can be. When Guin picks up on energy left behind by others, she often receives disturbing and telling visions. Later in adulthood, Guin realizes her "Seer" powers were given to her to help others, so she joins the police force.

Guin kept her unconventional powers a secret until she partnered with April Reese [played by Michelle Tomlinson] who became more than a confidant. Though April was in a committed relationship, an affair between the two women began. When April's long term girlfriend learns she has only six months to live, April breaks up with Guin without telling her why. Devastated, Guin quits the police force.

After some time passed, Guin found a new partner in crime, Annie Finn. Together they opened a private investigation agency using Guin's "Seer" powers along with Annie's knowledge of the law to solve mysteries and help the crime solving efforts of the L.A.P.D.

In the pilot episode, Guin Marcus, a former cop, is hired by the police department to use her supernatural powers to help track down a known psychopath suspected of killing a female jogger. During the case, Guins sees her ex lover, Det. April Reese, for the first time in two years. Soon after their meeting, Guin realizes that she still has feelings for April, which somehow the psychopath knows as well. So to lure Guin into a trap, he decides to kidnaps April.

This series has yet to find a network, but when it does, I will be sure to pass on the information. In the meantime, check out the trailer....

The Seer - Trailer

Friday, August 8, 2008

Prop. 8 not retroactive, Jerry Brown says

This article is from the San Francisco Chronicle and written by Bob Egelko.

If voters approve a November ballot measure banning same-sex marriages in California, thousands of gay and lesbian weddings conducted since the state Supreme Court legalized the unions on May 15 will probably remain valid, Attorney General Jerry Brown said Monday.

The potential effect of Proposition 8 on existing same-sex marriages is already being debated among legal scholars and opposing sides in the Nov. 4 ballot measure campaign. Brown's position is significant because his office will represent the state in lawsuits over Prop. 8's validity and meaning if it passes.

The measure would amend the state Constitution to declare that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." It would overturn the court's ruling that the previous ban on same-sex marriage - established by statutes rather than a constitutional amendment - discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation and violated the right to marry one's chosen partner.

The measure does not state explicitly that it would nullify same-sex marriages performed before Nov. 4. But in their ballot arguments, supporters of Prop. 8 declare it would invalidate all such marriages "regardless of when or where performed" - an interpretation that would apply to existing as well as future marriages.

Courts that interpret ballot measures sometimes refer to such statements as evidence of what the voters knew and intended.

Brown's office said in a court filing Monday that he believes the ballot measure would not invalidate existing marriages.

"I believe that marriages that have been entered into subsequent to the (May 15) Supreme Court opinion will be recognized by the California Supreme Court," Brown told The Chronicle. Noting that Prop. 8 is silent about retroactivity, he said, "I would think the court, in looking at the underlying equities, would most probably conclude that upholding the marriages performed in that interval (before the election) would be a just result."

Brown's legal filing was among a flurry of competing arguments submitted Monday to a Sacramento County Superior Court judge, who is scheduled to hold a hearing Thursday on challenges to the ballot materials that will be sent to California's 16 million registered voters.

One issue is Brown's title for Prop. 8, which declares that the measure "eliminates the right of same-sex couples to marry." The Yes on 8 campaign said in a lawsuit last week that the title was "inherently argumentative and highly likely to create prejudice" against the measure. The campaign asked the judge to order a different title, such as "Limit on Marriage," which was used during signature-gathering before the court ruling.

Brown defended his ballot language as neutral and accurate Monday, while opponents of Prop. 8 pressed their challenge to a section of the Yes on 8 argument. That argument declares that teachers will be required to tell students as early as kindergarten that "gay marriage is OK" unless the ballot measure passes, a claim that the No on 8 campaign calls baseless.

In another development Monday, the California Catholic Conference, representing Catholic bishops, endorsed Prop. 8, declaring that "same-sex unions are not the same as opposite-sex unions" and that only a relationship that can produce children should be called marriage.

Reneging on a right: ENDORSEMENTS 2008: By banning same-sex marriages, Prop. 8 would create second-class citizens.

This article came from the Los Angeles Times Opinion Section on 08/08/2008.

It's the same sentence as in 2000: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." Yet the issue that will be put before voters Nov. 4 is radically different. This time, the wording would be used to rescind an existing constitutional right to marry. We fervently hope that voters, whatever their personal or religious convictions, will shudder at such a step and vote no on Proposition 8.

The state of same-sex marriage shifted in May, when the California Supreme Court overturned Proposition 22, the ban on gay marriage that voters approved eight years ago, and ruled that marriage was a fundamental right under the state Constitution. As such, it could not be denied to a protected group -- in this case, gay and lesbian couples.

What voters must consider about Proposition 8 is that, unlike Proposition 22, this is no longer about refining existing California law. In the wake of the court's ruling, the only way to deny marriage to gay and lesbian couples is by revising constitutional rights themselves. Proposition 8 seeks to embed wording in the Constitution that would eliminate the fundamental right to same-sex marriage.

It's a rare and drastic step, invoking the constitutional-amendment process to strip people of rights. Yet in California, it can be done with a simple majority vote. All the more reason for voters to weigh carefully what would be wrought by this measure.

Supporters of Proposition 8 insist that the measure is in no way intended to diminish the rights of gays and lesbians, but instead means to encourage ideal households for the raising of children and to put a stop to activist judges. Besides, they say, domestic partnerships provide all the same rights as marriage.

In a meeting with The Times' editorial board, supporters argued at length that children are best off when raised by their own biological, married mothers and fathers. Even if that were true -- and there is much room for dispute -- this measure in no way moves society closer to such a traditional picture. Gay and lesbian couples already are raising their own children and will continue to do so, as will single parents and adoptive and blended families. Using the supporters'own reasoning, it would be better for same-sex parents to marry.

Proposition 8 supporters are right that domestic partnerships come exceedingly close to guaranteeing the same rights as marriage, as the state's high court recognized. Still, there are differences. Some are statutory -- domestic partners must share a residence, while married couples can live separately -- and others are pragmatic -- studies have found that domestic partners do not receive the same treatment or recognition from hospital staff, employers and the public as spouses do.

But it was Ronald M. George, chief justice of the California Supreme Court, who cut through to the essence of the issue in the May 15 opinion he wrote: "[A]ffording same-sex couples only a separate and differently named family relationship will, as a realistic matter, impose appreciable harm on same-sex couples and their children, because denying such couples access to the familiar and highly favored designation of marriage is likely to cast doubt on whether the official family relationship of same-sex couples enjoys dignity equal to that of opposite-sex couples."

In other words, the very act of denying gay and lesbian couples the right to marry -- traditionally the highest legal and societal recognition of a loving commitment -- by definition relegates them and their relationships to second-class status, separate and not all that equal.

To be sure, the court overturned Proposition 22, a vote of the people. That is the court's duty when a law is unconstitutional, even if it is exceedingly popular. Civil rights are commonly hard-won, and not the result of widespread consensus. Whites in the South vehemently rejected the 1954 Supreme Court decision to desegregate schools. For that matter, Californians have accused the state Supreme Court of obstructing the people's will on marriage before -- in 1948, when it struck down a ban on interracial marriages.

Fundamental rights are exactly that. They should neither wait for popular acceptance, nor be revoked because it is lacking.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

How to be a Great Lesbian Lover

By Felice Newman, Somantic Coach & Sex Educator

How do you cultivate a quality of touch that makes your partner feel like you're really seeing them? No one wants to be thought of as merely going through the motions. Nor does anyone want to be seen as a "slam-bam-thank-you-ma'am" hit-and-run driver. Whether you are touching your partner with your hands, your mouth, or a sex toy, what are the qualities that will have your partner feel that they have been touched by your spirit as well?

The first quality is presence. Presence is the physical embodiment of your you-ness. It's that quality that lets someone feel your aliveness in a room before they can see or hear you. Your presence can be felt by others as open, curious, listening, playful, sparkling, seductive, outpouring with love, or full-bodied with deep resonances. It can also be felt as laser-like in single-minded focus, scattered, shut down, collapsed, angry, untouchable, defensive or intractable. To some degree, you can shape your presence by your intention. You can pause before a first kiss, touch, or entry: Who do you want to be in this moment? What quality of your you-ness do you want your partner to be met with?

Next is the quality of extension. Extension is sending our presence outward. We are great energy transmitters, continuously beaming our selves into the world. Some of us have a quiet presence that's felt as a gentle stirring in the air. Others of us are said to have a "big" presence that's felt as a great gust of wind enlivening the atmosphere.

Extension is how you transmit your intentions. You can extend your presence so that your partner "feels" your touch powerfully—regardless of how gently you may press, squeeze, caress, or thrust. Imagine your sexual energy as a force moving through you, one you can direct. Imagine your finger or your penis as a hose through which energy flows. Now imagine directing that energy, and specifically, directly the quality of that energy. Do you want to produce a gentle healing presence? Do you want your energy to hit hard? Are you wanting to create new sensations or intensify sensations that are already there? You can extend vigorously without overreaching or overwhelming your partner. You can cultivate extension by consciously observing how others respond to your presence.

Next comes receptivity. Remember when popular sex guides referred to the "active partner" and the "passive partner"? That tired notion was laid to rest by the Good Vibrations Guide to Sex more than a dozen years ago. Receptivity is anything but passive. Receptivity is an energetic quality—it isn't necessarily about who's doing what to whom.

In fact, you even can be receptive while you are touching your partner. How? Well, you can open to your partner, listening for her responses, which will speak to you through pulsations, changes in temperature, muscular contractions, and release of bodily fluids.

In receptivity, you practice being with yourself while being with another, which is the basis of intimacy. When you are receiving touch, you can meet your partner's presence with your own. Imagine locating your "self" just under your partner's touch, in the soft folds of your labia and clitoris, in the cool expanse of skin on your buttocks. Energetically, you can reach out toward that touch, just as you physically reach out by moving toward the source of pleasure. There is an element of extension in receptivity. You can cultivate receptivity by being open and inviting of the pleasures of the senses.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Suzanne Westenhoefer ENGAGED!

So I just heard the good news: Suzanne Westenhoefer is officially ENGAGED. She will marry her longtime partner Jennifer Houston on September 6 in Hollywood. Congratulations to the both of them!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Bitch Slap

A friend of my got me hooked on grindhouse movies, so when I saw the trailer for the upcoming film Bitch Slap, I thought to myself, this must be a lesbian movie buff's wet dream. We're talking chick fights, fast cars, girls kissing, tons of cleavage and big guns, what more could you ask for?

Okay, I realize that this could considered a bit objectifying to women, and maybe sexist and perhaps even a little violent...but hey, what else would you expect from a post-modern day take on the "B" movie exploitation films of the 50's -70's? I mean this film was inspired by the likes of "Dragstrip Girls", "Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill!" and Kung Fu Nun.

So here's the deal, the story follows three bad girls (a down-and-out stripper, a drug-running killer and a corporate power broker) as they arrive at a remote desert hideaway to extort and steal $200 Million from a ruthless underworld kingpin. As things quickly get out of control, allegiances change, truths are revealed, more criminals arrive and the fate of the world hangs in the balance...

So if your offended by any of the above information, I would advise not watching the following trailer, for everyone else, make sure your boss is not around, turn up the volume, sit back, and enjoy. Oh, and one last thing, Bitch Slap will be out in theatres this Christmas...anyone want to join me for that premiere?

Lesbian bigamy battle unfolds

Not to put a damper on the whole same-sex marriage issue, but I saw this article today and thought it posed and interesting predicament...just a reminder that if  you are going to get married, it is not a decision to be taken lightly.

By Molly Walsh, Free Press Staff Writer

The two women married in Canada, obtained identical tattoos and picked out adjoining burial plots with the expectation that they would be together till death and beyond. Then one of them fell for someone else, and without getting a divorce, entered into a Vermont civil union in Stowe with the new woman.

Now the woman who says she was left behind -- Laureen Wells-Weiss -- is alleging that her estranged spouse committed bigamy and that Vermont authorities are neglecting their duty by declining to press charges. She also contends that authorities would be more aggressive if the complaint were being made by a person in a heterosexual marriage.

"I am offended as a gay person and I am appalled as an American that somebody can commit a crime and not be held accountable and the people who are supposed to uphold that law are dismissing it," said Wells-Weiss, a college English teacher who lives in Binghamton, N.Y.

While she and her spouse wage a legal battle over their assets in New York, Wells-Weiss has been on a letter-writing campaign to Vermont officials urging them to pursue a case against her estranged spouse on bigamy or perjury charges and to void her civil union. She's had no luck, despite contacting numerous offices, including the Vermont Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the state's attorney for Lamoille County, where the civil union was performed.

Joel Page, Lamoille County state's attorney, said he referred Wells-Weiss to the AG's office, the U.S. attorney and local police investigators. Without researching the matter, he couldn't say whether bigamy laws would apply to a married person entering into a civil union, but he expressed doubts.

"It's kind of hard to see how a civil union would be covered by the bigamy law, but I have not done extensive research on this," Page said.

Page disagreed with Wells-Weiss' contention that her complaint wasn't being taken seriously because she is gay.

"I don't get any sense that that's what's going on at all," he said. "I think the rather unique facts and the multistate and international aspects combined with the fact that it appears to be civil, not criminal, makes it not likely to attract the attention of those whose job it is to prosecute criminal matters."
How they met

The estranged spouse is Shari Weiss, a resident of Endicott, N.Y., according to court papers filed in New York earlier this year. She declined to comment for this story.

"I'm not interested in giving out information, sorry," Weiss said by telephone before hanging up. Her lawyer did not respond to a message left Thursday.

Laureen Wells-Weiss tells the story of their life together this way: The two women met through a mutual friend in Ithaca, N.Y., in the 1990s and soon decided to share their lives and last names. (Weiss stopped hyphenating after the split from Wells, who continues to use both surnames.)

Same-sex couples cannot legally marry in New York, so the women settled for a private ceremony before family and friends in 2001. Three years later, they decided to seek legal recognition of their union in one of the few places in North America that allowed same-sex marriage at the time -- Toronto. The two women were married there Aug. 13, 2004, public records show.

The relationship seemed solid. Shari worked at a nonprofit. Laureen teaches at the State University of New York at Cortland. The couple purchased a house in Binghamton, N.Y., chose adjoining burial plots and even had matching tattoos done, according to Wells-Weiss. She thought they would be together for life and everyone saw them as married, she said.

"It wasn't just that we considered ourselves married. All of our friends considered us married; our families considered us married."

One break-up, two unions

The breakup came just after Christmas 2006. Weiss announced she wanted out and within days was celebrating New Year's with another woman, Wells-Weiss says. She learned in 2007 that Weiss had entered into a civil union with her new love without first obtaining a divorce.

Stowe public records verify that Shari Weiss and Randi Wilbur entered into a civil union June 23, 2007.

For a valid civil union to be established in Vermont, neither person can be party to another civil union or a marriage, according to Vermont statutes. Wells-Weiss contends that her estranged spouse's actions are illegal and an affront to anyone who worked for gay rights and equal treatment of same-sex couples under the law.

Legal authorities in Vermont have not been willing to pursue the case. Bigamy prosecutions are rare in Vermont and it's unclear whether the Weiss case would constitute one. Vermont's bigamy statute refers to a "a person having a husband or wife living who marries another person."

Since the statute refers to a new marriage and not a civil union, it's unclear whether a civil union would trigger a bigamy charge, Page said. "You're getting into some novel legal issues with basically some real gray areas."

Wells-Weiss is seeking a legal divorce from Weiss in New York. Although same-sex couples cannot legally marry in that state, a recent court ruling prompted the governor to order state officials to treat same-sex unions legally performed in other jurisdictions as legal in New York.

Laws regarding same-sex unions are a muddle that changes with every new court ruling and legislative action. Same-sex-marriage is legal in Canada, while in the U.S., same-sex couples can legally marry in Massachusetts and in California only. States vary in the way they treat same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

Vermont in 2000 began allowing civil unions, an arrangement that entitles same-sex couples to the same legal benefits as married couples. Activists are seeking full marriage rights in Vermont.

Wells-Weiss admits that she is pursuing bigamy charges against Weiss partly to strengthen her legal case in New York as the two battle over their house and debts. "My impression is, if she were charged with felonies it certainly would be illustrative of her character, her disregard for the law. So, yes, I think being charged with these crimes would definitely assist my case."

Beyond that, there's an important principle at stake, she said: Nobody should be allowed to be married to two people at the same time.

Page, however, said the case is not clear-cut. "The sense I get from (Wells-Weiss) is that everybody's passing the buck to somebody else, which is always a frustrating thing," Page said. "But part of it is the situation, perhaps, by its nature, doesn't lend itself cleanly or clearly to criminal investigation or prosecution and if so, which jurisdiction -- Canada, Vermont, New York?"

Same-sex marriage advocate and Vermont private attorney Beth Robinson of Langrock Sperry & Wool isn't surprised prosecutors aren't pursuing charges. She was unfamiliar with the case but after hearing the outline offered this opinion.

"In my view it is bigamy, but I would also say in my view given the state of flux and lack of clarity in the laws right now, it would be a bad idea to prosecute it criminally," Robinson said. Criminal laws are designed to punish people for knowingly engaging in criminal activity, she said. It's possible that Weiss did not believe her Canadian marriage was valid in Vermont, or even know where to seek a divorce -- the U.S. or Canada.

"People have a range of understandings about these things, and until we have court decisions, nobody's right and nobody's wrong," Robinson said.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Contaminating a Relationship

Another interesting relationship article from Dr. Phil.

Every one of us has an irrational and destructive emotional side to our personality. This dark side can sabotage your relationship in an insidious way.

Below are the most common characteristics of what Dr. Phil calls "bad spirits," and how they can impact a relationship.

You're a Scorekeeper
Competing can quickly turn a relationship into an ugly battle of one-upmanship. How can you possibly be a winner if it is at the expense of making the person you supposedly love a loser? Solid relationships are built on sacrifice and caring, not power and control. Competitiveness can drain the joy, confidence and productivity out of any relationship.

You're a Faultfinder
There is nothing wrong with constructive criticism if it is designed to improve the relationship. But it can often give way to constant faultfinding -- in which you obsess over the flaws and imperfections rather than find value in your partner. Get off your partner's back and you may see your partner moving toward you.

You Think It's Your Way or the Highway
If you've always got to be right, then you're ready to fight till the end. No truer words were ever spoken, says Dr. Phil; you will fight to the end...the end of your relationship. You can't be self-righteous or obsessed with control and do what's best for the relationship at the same time.

You Turn Into an Attack Dog
When you get in an argument, do you have a killer stare, a harsh tone and hurtful words? Attack dogs may experience short-term gain, but the target of the abuse becomes filled with bitterness and resentment. While it's easy to fall into viciousness, it's much harder to repair the resulting consequences.

You are a Passive Warmonger
Instead of fault-finding or engaging in character assassination, these toxic partners try to thwart their partner by constantly doing that which they deny they are doing -- in such an indirect way as to escape accountability if they are confronted. A passive aggressive person is as much of an overbearing controller as the most aggressive, in-your-face person you could imagine -- only they do it insidiously and underhandedly.

You Resort to Smoke and Mirrors
Because you lack the courage to get real about what is driving the pain and problems in your relationship, you criticize your partner about one thing when you're really upset about another. What is real never gets voiced, and what gets voiced is never real. The real issues will eventually burst forth in a torrid way.

You Will Not Forgive
When you choose to bear anger at your partner, you trap yourself in pain and agony -- and the negative energy can crowd every other feeling out of your heart. If you wallow in resentment and refuse to forgive and move on, you will tear up your own life and your relationship. You can't change the past but you can deal with the resulting feelings and hurt by truly forgiving.

You Are the Bottomless Pit
Are you so needy that you constantly undermine your chances of success? Can you never get enough satisfaction, love, attention or appreciation? Your partner will be frustrated by never seeming able to "fill you up." We all want reassurance, but an insatiable appetite for it never gives your partner any rest. Free yourself from the internalized sense of inadequacy, and find other ways to feel your self-worth and value.

You're Too Comfortable
If you're in a comfort zone, you are failing to meet your responsibilities in the relationship. You aren't contributing, you aren't stimulating, and you aren't energizing. If you don't make a move, it becomes easier and easier to stagnate.

You've Given Up
When so many bad spirits crowd your life, you cannot imagine there being any way out. You become so forlorn, lonely, isolated, negative, cynical and far from your core of consciousness that you believe you are trapped. Be strong enough to confront your problems instead of giving up.


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