Friday, February 11, 2011

Be My Valentine?

I was born on Valentine's Day, 1968. My mom was busily working on another NH Presidential Primary election when her water broke. About four hours later, I arrived. I had made my deadline (the doctor had told my mother I would be born on Valentine's Day. She laughed.) I used to hate it when kids would tease me about my birthday, calling me "Val-en-tine's BAY-BEE!" I quickly figured out, however, that being born on Valentine's Day means that I will be more likely to receive cards and gifts. And, as a youngster who sensed that my affections were 'different', I thought this was a great way to fill the void that I feared would be there in my life... that lack of a special someone.

Born amidst my mom's political activism, I think it must have entered my blood in utero because I have always been aware of the comings and goings of "the world." I was the child in my elementary school who knew who Anwar Sadat was. I understood inflation by the sudden increase in the price of comic books from $0.25 to $0.35. I had been moved deeply when we read about Martin Luther King, Jr. in my second grade class, and I fought with my father over the merits of the man's life and why didn't New Hampshire honor him with a holiday?!

Valentine's Day and political activism have come full circle in my life as I have entered my forties with a spirit of giving rather than receiving at my birthday. I do like cards. I do like gifts. But I also like to spread the love further and to those who could use a virtual hug and a kiss to know that somebody appreciates them.

As a lesbian, it is my choice to extend the love to others who love as I do, and whom some in the world see as pariahs to despise. It's not that I don't care about other causes; it's that I care to share my birthday love with LGBT groups that are making it possible for others like me to live and love freely.

Want to be My Valentine? Please consider donating whatever amount feels right to you to the following:

  • St. Paul's Foundation for International Reconciliation. This is an organization headed by Rev. Canon Albert Ogle in San Diego, CA. Its focus is on helping communities commit to reconciliation particularly around LGBT issues, HIV/AIDS, women and literacy. They are supporting the work of retired Ugandan Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, who has risked his life to help LGBT Ugandans (+Christopher shared the front page of the scurrilous Ugandan rag "Rolling Stone" with the late David Kato. The newspaper called for the hanging of "homos". ) As anyone who has followed my blog or postings at Facebook knows, I have been deeply troubled by Kato's murder and the subsequent circus that happened at his funeral. Please follow this link to make a donation.

  • Unfit: The Documentary. I was surprised to get an email last year from a movie producer looking for copies of my reports on the infamous Ward vs. Ward case. Mary Ward was a lesbian mom, living in the Florida panhandle, who lost custody of her nine year-old daughter to her ex-husband, John. John's credentials included time served on a charge of killing his first wife. The trial judge, Joseph Tarbuck, stated from the bench that he felt the girl needed to live in a "non-lesbian world." I covered the case on appeal, both for Florida Public Radio, and NPR and "This Way Out". Mary Ward lost the appeal... and months later died of a heart attack. The case sent a chill through the gay and lesbian community, especially among LGBT parents. Now, more than a decade later, FOMO Films is making a documentary about the case. They're close to being finished, but could use some more funds. This is a story that needs to be told. Please follow this link to make a donation.

  • This Way Out. I shared with my PFLAG group that this half-hour radio magazine did so much to make my life as a college student who felt isolated from the gay community in Columbia, Missouri, much more tolerable. Every week, I knew I could tune into KOPN-FM and find "my people". When I graduated from Journalism School, and began working in Florida, I could return the favor by providing news of the LGBT community of our state to the program. It's a very lean outfit with co-producers Greg Gordon and Lucia Chappelle, and a variety of supporting staff. They put this product together for distribution to community radio stations and some international outlets. And they are always in need of funds. Please follow this link to make a donation.

  • PFLAG. A heart has four chambers, and so my final Valentine goes to the organization that helped to answer my mom's questions when she needed to talk to someone other than me. It has been there for so many young people who are looking for a community of moms and dads and allies who will love them for who they are. And it has been a force to contend with when our requests for equal treatment under the law are met with scoffs of "special rights." Don't ever tell a PFLAG mom or dad that their child is seeking "special rights"! You can contact me if you want to donate to our local chapter. Or please follow this link to make a donation to our national organization.
This is not an exhaustive list. If you have your favorite, please make a gift to help somebody else know that living "in the life" is OK. That's the best way to be My Valentine!