Being 69: A Year in the Life of a Fun Old Lesbian – January 31, 2016

Yesterday I attended the first reunion and 10th anniversary of the UCLA M. Ed. in Student Affairs program. I looked around the room and felt tremendous pride…for the current and former students, for myself, for the way the program has touched the lives of every person in the room.

During the summer of 2005, Danny Ambrose, a graduate student from Indiana University, interned with me at UCLA. As a summer project, I asked him to research the possibility of designing a one-year masters level program. We played with it throughout the summer then he went back to IU. I thought about the project that sat on my desk, realizing that it needed to come to life in the UCLA Graduate School of Education (GSEIS), the top-rated public graduate school of education in the country and the number two school only behind Harvard..

I tweaked the project to fit with what I knew were UCLA standards and created the proposal. In January of 2006 I took the proposal to my friend, Dr. Linda Sax, in the Higher Education & Organizational Change division of GSEIS. Linda said yes and worked with me on developing the proposal that would create scholar-practitioners in student affairs. We asked Student Affairs Vice Chancellor Janina Montero to fiscally support the proposal. Janina said yes. We asked my boss, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Bob Naples, to support the potential new program by allowing me to direct it. Bob said yes. Bob also said yes when he was asked to teach in the program, as did Christine Wilson, Suzanne Seplow, and Jane Pizzalota. GSEIS administration said yes when we asked them to approve a new program. Finally, the esteemed faculty of GSEIS, including Drs. Sylvia Hurtado and Mitch Chang, said yes when we delivered the final proposal to them for approval.

People said yes and a new program was born. Because people said yes, the lives of everyone in the reunion room today were forever changed. Had I not taken that proposal to Linda in January of 2006, the M.Ed. in Student Affairs at UCLA would never have happened. I was reminded once again that, yes, one person can make a difference. One person can create change. It takes a village to do most things, I absolutely know, but one person has to have the first thought. I realize how blessed I am to have been a person who had many first thoughts, and thank God, I chose to share them with others. My heart is very full as I write…

I heard a line today in a UCLA PR video that touched me: We’re remembered by the rules we break… Indeed! If that’ true, I must be well remembered! Oy! Regardless, break those rules! Be courageous! Change lives…especially your own.

Today is the anniversary of my father’s passing. He died three years ago today and is dearly missed. I hope he and Sherry are together and with the others in the family who passed before them. Their memories are blessings for the remainder of us…

________________

On this day in LGBT history (from QUIST, Lavender Effect, and/or Wikipedia. (If you are unsure about accuracy, please do your research and let me know. Thanks!)

 2011 – Zach Wahls, the son of lesbian moms, addresses the Iowa House Judiciary Committee. His testimony brings national attention to the proposed constitutional ban on same sex marriage in Iowa and launches his role as a national activist.

__________________

I encourage you to write your stories. If you’d like to see your memoir and stories in print, let’s work together. I can help you self-publish your work. If this interests you, please see my website at http://purpledistinctions.com/self_publishing.html

Write your story! Now is good!

Warmly,

Ronni

Being 69: A Year in the Life of a Fun Old Lesbian – January 30, 2016

Did you ever quit an addiction, be free from it for many years, then suddenly crave one more hit of whatever it was. That’s my relationship with cigarettes. I quit smoking cigarettes in the fall of 1973 after having smoked about two packs a day for eight years. I have smoking stories.

I loved smoking. I used to reward myself every time I thought I did something good. For example, when I was in college (I began smoking when I started college in 1965), I would reward myself with the a cigarette after I had a particularly good practice session with my alto sax. That was in addition to the two packs of cigarettes a day I already smoked.

Another smoking story is that because I enjoyed smoking, I smoked all through my first pregnancy and for the first seven right months of my baby daughter’s life. I had heard that if a woman smoked, she usually had lower birth weight babies. I guess it was good that I smoked back then, because my daughter weighed in at 8 lbs. 11 oz. at birth! But about eight months or so into her little life, I saw her do something that rocked my world. I watched my little eight-month-old baby girl completely imitate my smoking with the carrots with which she was teething. It infuriated me that I was that kind of a role model for her. I quit cold turkey on the spot and I’ve never had another cigarette again.

But even after I quit smoking, I still have smoking stories. One of the stranger ones is when I heard my parents tell my coming-out story at a PFLAG conference one year at UCLA. My mother told the audience that she knew I was a lesbian when she saw me in jeans and a T-shirt with a package of cigarettes rolled up in my sleeve. Well, for one thing, I had quit smoking six years prior to my coming out. I quit in 1973 and didn’t come on until 1979, and even if I did smoke, there is no way I would ever have had a package of cigarettes rolled up in my sleeve!

This last story is one to which I was alluding at the beginning of this piece. Every now and then, even though I haven’t had a cigarette since 1973, someone would come into my life who made me just grind my teeth and crave a cigarette. Often it was a student who was seriously annoying. Or it was someone who was a giant nudge. I wanted, no, craved a cigarette but I certainly would never have one. I knew it would take just one and I’d be hooked all over again. But it always reminded and baffled me about the power nicotine addiction.

Recently a man who has been in my life for a long time and who was incredibly annoying even before his many years of unrecovered drug and alcohol addiction, made me just want to have a cigarette! It happened when I received a scathing email from him with a list of injustices I had committed over these decades to offend him. Name-calling was prevalent. I’ve been called lots of things both positive and negative throughout my lifetime, but this guy called me two things that I’ve never actually heard before. One was that I am hetero male phobic and the other was that I was a partial leukophobe, which, I admit, I had to look up. A hetero male phobic person, I suppose, is one who is afraid of heterosexual males. I never thought I was, though I admit that both Trump and Cruz scare the crap out of me, but otherwise men are generally okay as a species. I actually have some dear ones – my son, my brothers, my grandsons, some lovely former students who stay in my life, even some great male friends. A partial leukophobe is one who is sort of afraid of the color white, or more specifically, white people, of which I’m one. Honest to God, I have absolutely no idea what that means. It makes no sense to me whatsoever. Arrrggghhh…..

Getting called weird things is not new to me. Once, a gay man accused me of discriminated against him based on sexual orientation, that I was anti-gay men. (I didn’t like him but it had nothing to do with his sexual orientation. He was a creep!) He actually took me to court for that. The judge threw the case out, fining the guy for filing a frivolous lawsuit. And then a few weeks later that guy was sent to prison for child sexual molestation. Nice.

The good news, for me, is that while I felt like having a cigarette while I was being called unintelligent names, I didn’t do it. Smoking hasn’t been a part of my life in 42 years. I wish I could say the same of some annoying folks. Oh well. I suppose they help make life more interesting, I’m grateful…

________________

On this day in LGBT history (from QUIST, Lavender Effect, and/or Wikipedia. (If you are unsure about accuracy, please do your research and let me know. Thanks!)

 1946 – House panel reports on “Blue Discharges.” Blue discharges were commonly used against homosexuals and African-Americans in the military who hadn’t transgressed but commanders wanted out of their ranks. Blue discharges were neither honorable nor dishonorable but were denied G.I. Bill benefits.

__________________

I encourage you to write your stories. If you’d like to see your memoir and stories in print, let’s work together. I can help you self-publish your work. If this interests you, please see my website at http://purpledistinctions.com/self_publishing.html

Write your story! Now is good!

Warmly,

Ronni

Being 69: A Year in the Life of a Fun Old Lesbian – January 29, 2016

My mother who is almost 90 asked me what we’re going to do if either Trump or Cruz is elected US president. I told her we’ll gather the clan and move to Washington State while we update our passports in case we need to go even further away.

That was sort of a joke except that my son, the girls and little boys, and Kelly and I are heading north soon. (Okay, Kelly and I are snowbirds and will return to Palm Springs in December.) Washington State is probably the safest place for all of us at the moment. It is from there that I intend to keep writing and publishing and to participate in something greater than myself. I’m just not clear about what that is yet.

I was recently reminded that there was a time in my career – like all of it – when I would not take a vacation. My boss and others thought that it was because I was so dedicated to my work, which I was, of course, but there was more (here comes the looney part): I thought that if I took a vacation, something magnificent would happen and the LGBT civil rights movement would be over….and I would have been on vacation. I would have missed the ending. Sick, sick, sick. There is still so much more work to do, maybe more than ever before, especially based on the fallout of the recent NGLTF Creating Change conference and the ensuing anti-Semitism.

So now I’m in search of that “something greater than myself.” There are many orgs both on the state and national levels in which I could get involved but none of the current and usual orgs are calling to me. I know that my blog and my writing are ways of reaching out, of helping others, of documenting our LGBT history.

Our history is critical. If we forget it, or worse, never leaned it, we end up with hostilities and organizational mistakes such as those that occurred at Creating Change, and we have an entire generation of young folks who don’t know how to respond in the face of severe discrimination. It’s imperative that we teach and learn our history because, as my Jewish immigrant grandfather used to tell me, if we don’t, it will surely happen again.

________________

On this day in LGBT history (from QUIST, Lavender Effect, and/or Wikipedia. (If you are unsure about accuracy, please do your research and let me know. Thanks!)

 1977 – Thelma Houston’s Don’t Leave Me This Way begins its 17-week top 40 run. It goes on to become a perennial gay anthem

1983 – Arizona’s first Lesbian and Gay health far held at El Pueblo Neighborhood Center in Tucson

1991- Minnesota governor Arne Carlson issues an executive order banning sexual orientation discrimination in the public sector

2007 – Israel registers its first same-sex couple.

__________________

I encourage you to write your stories. If you’d like to see your memoir and stories in print, let’s work together. I can help you self-publish your work. If this interests you, please see my website at http://purpledistinctions.com/self_publishing.html

Write your story! Now is good!

Warmly,

Ronni

Being 69: A Year in the Life of a Fun Old Lesbian – January 28, 2016

I remember the Challenger. Thirty years ago today I was on Jacksonville Beach with my staff. We were in a day-long meeting at what is now the One Hotel at the end of Beach Blvd. Cape Canaveral was just down the beach about 100 miles so rocket blastoffs were easily visible. This flight was especially historic in that Christa McAuliffe, a public school teacher, was aboard. We had the TV on to monitor the time to blastoff. At the one-minute call, we went outside and onto the beach. The day was sparkling clear and unseasonably cold as I recall. The view, I knew, would be stunning. At 11:38 AM, the Challenger roared off the launch pad and into the sky.

Seventy-three seconds. Something was obviously terribly wrong.

One of the astronauts caught my attention and I’ve spent three decades thinking about her. Dr. Judith Resnick was the second American woman in space after Sally Ride (who didn’t come out as a lesbian publically until just before her death a few years ago). Judith’s 1984 maiden flight was on the orbiter Discovery. She was the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants and the first Jewish American into space. She wasn’t religious, though, and didn’t like being called the “first Jewish” astronaut.

Judith had been married and divorced several years prior to her historic flight. One day while I was doing some research at the Jewish Military History Museum in Washington DC, I was in the room dedicated to Jewish women in the military. Judith Resnick was there among those very brave photos. I noticed a single line (whose exact words I can’t remember) that indicated that one of her survivors was a woman identified only as her long-time friend. Was Judith Resnick a lesbian? We’ll likely never know but recently, I’ve discovered that many of the astronauts both male and female are LGBT.

I wish our heroes felt safe enough in their skins and in their lives to be open about their sexual orientations. We need our heroes. Our young LGBT people need their heroes. Without our heroes we have no sense of context in the world. I don’t know if Astronaut Judith Resnick was a lesbian, but I bet there are some brilliant little girls, struggling with their identities, who would like to know that others just like them were already here…and it was good.

________________

On this day in LGBT history (from QUIST, Lavender Effect, and/or Wikipedia. (If you are unsure about accuracy, please do your research and let me know. Thanks!)

1976, – Formation of Gay American Indians (GAI) reported in the Advocate. Founding members are Barbara Cameron and Randy Burns. GAI is the first Native gay and lesbian organization in the US and contributed to the rise of the Two Spirit movement.

1982 – US Defense Department declares gays and lesbians may not serve in the military, and all recruits will be asked about their sexual orientation;

1986 – The Challenger explodes.

__________________

I encourage you to write your stories. If you’d like to see your memoir and stories in print, let’s work together. I can help you self-publish your work. If this interests you, please see my website at http://purpledistinctions.com/self_publishing.html

Write your story! Now is good!

Warmly,

Ronni

Being 69: A Year in the Life of a Fun Old Lesbian – January 27, 2016

My dear friend Rev. Mike Piazza, author of Liberating Word, and his spouse Bill Eure are going through a tremendous time in their lives right now. Billy has cancer. Mike wrote about it recently. I lost my precious sister Sherry to cancer on January 3rd. Mike’s words touched me deeply. Today I share them with you…

I spent yesterday with Bill while he received his first round of chemotherapy. I am determined not to turn Liberating Word into a cancer journal, but, in talking about all of this, Bill remarked, “We are not that special.” I, of course, told him that he is very special, but he is right. We are not alone in this journey with cancer. Hundreds of people have made it or are on it even now.

 Many of you have written or posted about your own experiences, and I even have been with some of you when, like Bill, you were told that your time was short. So, even that is not unique; but our specific experience is unique to us. No matter how many people I have sat with, prayed with, counseled, or even loved through cancer, none of them were Bill, so this is different for me. That is true for you, too.

 We all try to relate to one another by seeing the other person’s experience through the lens of what we have been through or are going through. That is natural and appropriate; it is how we access the empathy in our hearts and souls. The danger is–and perhaps I should speak only for myself here–the danger is when we draw our empathy from our own experience it suddenly becomes about us.

 That can’t be avoided entirely, but we all need to be keenly aware of it. If we are not, what happens is, when someone we love and respect, especially someone whose faith and spirituality we esteem, gets sick or, God forbid, dies, it strikes at the very core of our own faith. If it can happen to them then they must not have been so spiritual after all. If they were, then our entire spiritual house of cards is threatened. We get anxious because our world is endangered, and our response to the other person is a projection of our own fears, mortality, or vulnerability.

As Mike wrote, of course, we are all going to die. If we deal with that, perhaps we’ll better be able to help others because, really, we aren’t special. But my sister was that special, as is Billy, so I still struggle…

________________

On this day in LGBT history (from QUIST, Lavender Effect, and/or Wikipedia. (If you are unsure about accuracy, please do your research and let me know. Thanks!)

1972 – The NYC Council vetoes a proposed gay rights ordinance that would have prohibited discrimination against gay men and lesbians in employment, housing and public accommodations

2006 – International Holocaust Remembrance Day created by resolution of the United Nations General Assembly.

__________________

I encourage you to write your stories. If you’d like to see your memoir and stories in print, let’s work together. I can help you self-publish your work. If this interests you, please see my website at http://purpledistinctions.com/self_publishing.html

Write your story! Now is good!

Warmly,

Ronni

Being 69: A Year in the Life of a Fun Old Lesbian – January 26, 2016

What a day yesterday! I woke up with food poisoning! I don’t believe I’ve ever had it and it totally sucked! I was worthless for the entire day, sick as a dog (that’s a weird phrase!), and completely unable to be of service for Kelly who was handing all the house changes yesterday.

While I has barfing (and worse) my way through the day, Kelly oversaw the installation of the plantation shutters on every window in the house, worked with the gardeners as they made decisions about (and did) the removal of 13 huge ficus trees in the back yard., The roots of the ficus look like boa constrictors and they tend to stay on the surface of the yard thereby destroying house foundations. Swell. And gone. Then she also worked with the men who were digging up the back yard. We had the grass taken out. Half the yard will be beautiful pavers. The other half will be a putting green. Ha!

But the place was a mess and a disaster and was invaded by men. Kelly was impressive in that she hung in there through it all. All I could do was groan, barf, and sleep. I hope she still likes me today. I feel a thousand percent better for which I am deeply grateful!  I’ll make it up to her… How? Hmmm…. For sure it won’t have anything to do with food!

________________

On this day in LGBT history (from QUIST, Lavender Effect, and/or Wikipedia. (If you are unsure about accuracy, please do your research and let me know. Thanks!)

1971 –Look Magazine includes a gay couple from Minnesota, Jack Baker and Mike McConnell, as part of that week’s cover article on “The American Family.” Baker and McConnell are also noteworthy as they are the first same-sex couple in the U.S. to be granted a marriage license, in 1971.

1996 – Rent opens off Broadway in the New York Theater Workshop for a six-week run. The creator, Jonathan Larson, died of AIDS just before the premiere

2100, Uganda – David Kato Kisule, founding member of Sexual Minorities Uganda, is murdered. He was the parent and leader of the LGBT rights movement in Uganda where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death.

__________________

I encourage you to write your stories. If you’d like to see your memoir and stories in print, let’s work together. I can help you self-publish your work. If this interests you, please see my website at http://purpledistinctions.com/self_publishing.html

Write your story! Now is good!

Warmly,

Ronni

Being 69: A Year in the Life of a Fun Old Lesbian – January 25, 2016

The drive out to Palm Springs from Ventura was one of the best I’ve done. Usually it’s a three-hour event in normal traffic, four hours when Pasadena is a mess. But yesterday there was very little traffic anywhere and I made it in two and a half hours including a stop for gas and a pee.

I was excited to see Kelly since we hadn’t seen each other in a week, and I was also excited to see the progress of the work in the back yard. We’ve taken up the grass and are installing beautiful pavers on one side and a pitching/putting green on the other. The hot tub, which will live on the already-existing patio, will arrive in February. I love that we planned this together and will have a cozy, fun, active space for us old farts, hopefully for many years to come.

Not to be outdone by our east coast neighbors, Kelly and, along with Shay and Sally Taylor, took the Palm Springs Tram to the top of Mt. Jacinto yesterday. The views from the revolving tram were beautiful, especially as the snow started to be visible about half way up. The entire area is a state park, wooded, with trails and for hiking, snow-shoeing, and sledding. Higher hills are beyond making it appear is if we’re in a little winter wonderland valley. We took only a short walk because the temp was 40 and the snow has turned to ice. Since we had 5:30 dinner reservations at The Peaks, the restaurant at the top, we headed back indoors, which was fine because the temp was beginning to drop…fast.

Yesterday was Kelly’s birthday. Dinner in The Peaks was a great was to Celebrate. The view was stunning and the food was delish!

A good day, especially with moments of remembering Sher sprinkled in, early morning coffee with Barry, a phone chat with a dear old friend, lovin’ from Kelly and Dooney. I feel a sense of senernity and roundedness this morning as I reflect back…

________________

On this day in LGBT history (from QUIST, Lavender Effect, and/or Wikipedia. (If you are unsure about accuracy, please do your research and let me know. Thanks!)

1892, Tennessee – Alice Mitchel, 19, killed Freda Ward, 17, by the docks in Memphis as a result of jealousy. The story made national headlines for months. The two girls had planned to marry but Alice was ragefu that Freda had admitted to romantic feelings for two men

2005 – Alameda County, California’s Board of Supervisors votes 4–0 to prohibit discrimination in public-sector employment, services and facilities based on gender identity

2013 – The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey 2010 released. It’s the first LGBTQ-specific report of kind. Sexual minority respondents report intimate partner violence at rates at least equal to those of heterosexuals.

__________________

I encourage you to write your stories. If you’d like to see your memoir and stories in print, let’s work together. I can help you self-publish your work. If this interests you, please see my website at http://purpledistinctions.com/self_publishing.html

Write your story! Now is good!

Warmly,

Ronni

Being 69: A Year in the Life of a Fun Old Lesbian – January 24, 2016

Today is Kelly’s belly-button birthday. Our friends SDhay and Sally Taylor will join us this evening for a full-moon dinner on top of Mt. San Jacinto via the Palm Springs Tram. I wrote a poem.  I know it will thrill her:

We celebrate your belly-button day.
Long stem roses begin the celebray.
A fun time in your name,
Up the Palm Springs tram.
The Snow and full moon light our way.

Happy birthday, my precious Kel. I love you…

________________

On this day in LGBT history (from QUIST, Lavender Effect, and/or Wikipedia. (If you are unsure about accuracy, please do your research and let me know. Thanks!)

1975 – Norman Lear’s TV adaptation of Lanford Wilson’s “Hot L Baltimore” premieres on ABC. Though it features a diverse cast of characters, including two gay men and a latent lesbian, it lasts only five months;

1983 – Noted gay director George Cukor dies at age 83 in Los Angeles.

1996, Singapore – Singapore grants gender recognition to post-operative transsexuals

2012 – First “GSA Day” when US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan endorses gay-straight alliances in schools.

__________________

I encourage you to write your stories. If you’d like to see your memoir and stories in print, let’s work together. I can help you self-publish your work. If this interests you, please see my website at http://purpledistinctions.com/self_publishing.html

Write your story! Now is good!

Warmly,

Ronni

Being 69: A Year in the Life of a Fun Old Lesbian – January 23, 2016

My last day in Florida for a few months. I was supposed to play golf today but a good strong frog-stranglin’ rain fell all day. At least I got to meet with good women for lunch at noon, then Helen and I saw Spotlight later in the day. I’ll be back in April to house-sit while Helen goes to Europe.

I’m looking forward to going back to SoCal. Kelly’s birthday is Sunday and we’re going to the top of the Palm Springs Tram to celebrate. Work on the back yard began today. We’re installing a putting green and a paver patio. It’s going to be gorgeous. The plantation shutters will be installed on Monday and the hot tub gets delivered around Valentine’s Day. It’s been so much fun planning these with Kelly and I look forward to sharing it all with her.

Times are changing. The political scene is redefining lunacy; my sister Sherry is now my guardian angel; Kelly and I are solidifying our place s in each other’s lives; and my second granddaughter is graduating from high school. My dear friend, Rev. Mike Piazza, wrote about change. I want to share his words:

Change does not equal growth, but change is the price we pay for growth in any area. Wallace Ford told a powerful story about a people who lived in a community that was enclosed in a glass dome. Although the dome limited them greatly, they knew that they would die a horrible death on the outside, and that story passed from one generation to the next. They had lived with the dome for so many years that they long ago stopped noticing the limits it placed upon them. 

There was only one offense so heinous that the penalty was to be cast outside the dome. One day, to everyone’s horror, someone committed that very offense. The punishment was swift. The entire community escorted the offender to the edge of the dome and pushed them out into the world beyond. Then they all pressed their noses to the glass to watch them die.

At first, the offender lay on the ground face down, cowering in terror, wondering how death would come, every muscle clenched against the inevitable.

 Nothing happened. After a bit, the offender rolled over, looked around, and then, to the amazement to everyone inside, the outcast stood up and soon began dancing and singing and shouting. Banging on the outside of the dome, the offender shouted, “Come out, come out! It’s wonderful out here. Lots of room, fresh air, warm sunshine!”

 The people inside the dome were confused and so distressed that they got buckets of black paint and painted the glass walls as high as they could reach so no one could see the person outside dancing and singing. Then they all breathed a sigh of relief and went back to the way things always had been before that day.

 Change is hard and often painful. It is, however, the price we must pay for growth, and the opposite of growth is death.

Indeed…

________________

On this day in LGBT history (from QUIST, Lavender Effect, and/or Wikipedia. (If you are unsure about accuracy, please do your research and let me know. Thanks!)

1978 – NYC Mayor Ed Koch issues Executive Order 50 which forbids discrimination against gay men and lesbians in municipal government.

2009, France – Roger Karoutchi, French Secretary of State, comes out and is the first openly gay member of the French government.

__________________

I encourage you to write your stories. If you’d like to see your memoir and stories in print, let’s work together. I can help you self-publish your work. If this interests you, please see my website at http://purpledistinctions.com/self_publishing.html

Write your story! Now is good!

Warmly,

Ronni

Publish your memoir with Purple Distinctions

Publish your memoir with Purple Distinctions, a woman-owned self-publishing company. All work is done by the owner/author who works directly with you. There are no expensive after-products or annoying account reps to harass you. What you see on our website is exactly what you get: for a one-time fee you receive a beautiful book with a full-color cover for which you own all rights and receive 100% of all royalties! Check us out…then finish that book! Work with someone who appreciates your story and understands your hard work.

http://purpledistinctions.com/self_publishing.html