Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Elder Think Tank

Yesterday, I attended a meeting of the Elder Think Tank. It's a program sponsored by the Metro DC GLBT Community Center. The Elder Think Tank recently elected new leadership, and that was evident at the first meeting.

The Elder Think Tank is focused on aging issues for the LGBT communities. Many of the people around the table are experts on LGBT aging issues. Others are activists who have specific interests around these issues. I'm one of the latter.

I want to get involved because I believe that LGBT people have unique needs that can't be adequately satisfied within the current way of caring for aging people. Even "gay-friendly" institutions are no substitute for LGBT people caring for each other. I also believe that we can't wait for the government or the healthcare industry, or communities of faith to take care of our needs. Our communities need to clearly define their needs for our aging members, AND the primary responsibility for satisfying those needs must come from our communities. We need to build the institutions and the social infrastructure to take care of ourselves.

Here are some ideas on how to do that

  • Examine our needs.
  • Whether its a focus group, a survey, or conversations within our communities, we have to explore the needs of aging LGBT people. I believe that LGBT communities have unique social, health, and safety needs that are not immediately apparent to our families and "gay-friendly" service providers. Our communities are in the best position to articulate our distinctive needs.

  • Engage our communities.
  • Our communities do not have the infrastructure, yet, to take care of a huge increase in their aging populations. Groups like the Elder Think Tank need to find effective means to have conversations with social groups, the bar crowd, pick-up sites, religious communities, political groups - in short in every venue where aging LGBT people find themselves. We can't be quiet, because if we live long enough, all of us will need assistance.

  • Take care of ourselves.
  • The primary responsibility for ensuring a successful fade to black rests with all of us. It's more than financial planning or long-term care insurance. It means reaching out to aging LGBT peers, to family members, and establishing networks that encourage preventive health care, socialization, physical activity, good nutrition, continuing education and travel, and compassionate care.

    Many of us don't have strong family ties; we can't count on children or siblings to help out. But we can build robust social networks among our peers that can encourage practices and a life that we can live out in our own homes among our friends. The keys are cooperation and compassionate care.

    Our communities should also use appropriate technologies to reach each other, to work with care providers, and to provide community resources. Whether it's on the Internet or the iPhone, we can make a presence that builds a necessary infrastructure to strengthen and enrich the lives of aging LGBT people.

  • Look to care providers.
  • Where we as communities or networks of friends cannot take care of each other, we have to engage care providers. I hope that many of these care providers can come from our own communities, and that they will know our needs. In any case, we want providers, facilities, and institutions - an infrastructure - that are compassionate, knowledgeable, and accountable. We live our lives differently, and our providers must understand and be flexible to the familial, legal, and social hurdles that affect our communities.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Office Pictures

Here's a peak at the de-cluttered office. It looks a little weird to my eyes.

Here's the earlier blog entry that has all the before pictures. The new look is a definite improvement. We want to sell (or give away) the computer desk.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

For the Record

I'm pleased to announce that the clutter in the office is gone. Stay tuned for pictures.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Mormon Thing

Strange doings are happening in the Mormon kingdom. I remain fascinated by the Mormon tradition, and am still part of it. I belong to a gay Mormon group, Affirmation, and I recently joined a Yahoo group, Reform Mormonism Discussion Group (see their web site). None of this is to say that I want to go back to church, but I'm very curious about some winds that are sweeping the Mormon landscape.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has policies that limit the participation of members who are attracted to the same gender or are gender variant. Affirmation was formed to help lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender members of the LDS Church resolve the spiritual conflict that many such members felt in the church. The group offers support, fellowship, education, and sanity in the midst of personal crises created by a church and its teachings that demand individual perfection and strict adherence to church teachings.

Reform Mormonism began in 2002 to reform the LDS and FLDS (fundamentalist) branches of Mormonism. The reformers appear to be reacting to the increasingly patriarchal line of the other two churches, and the reformers are also going back to many of the early teaching of the founding prophet, Joseph Smith. The Reform Mormons are a home church. They are also a creedless church, and cast an exceedingly wide doctrinal net, hewing to the traditions and teachings, but radically reinterpreting the teachings, structure, and prophetic teachings of Joseph Smith.

Finally, the other major strand of Mormon thought is the Community of Christ. The Community of Christ was formerly called the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS). Like the LDS and FLDS churches, the C of C, has prophets, apostles, seventies - a priesthood structure. Unlike the other churches, the priesthood is open to women. Also, the church is governed as much by consensus as it is by direct revelation from the prophet.

The Community of Christ is undergoing a deep doctrinal rethinking in light of its revelation, the Doctrine and Covenants, section 163. The revelation was received in 2007 by President Veazey, and is beginning to have a large impact in the thinking of the church. The church's world conference in April of this year is expected to provide consensus and guidance on a number of social issues including same-sex marriage, and acceptance into membership without a C of C baptism.

You may wonder why I am interested in any of this. Although I do not follow the Mormon faith, it has a deep hold on my culturally. My own spiritual life is a little vague, and reading and discovering these changes within the Mormon tradition is heartening. I have hope for my brothers and sisters in the faith. I have hope that their leaders will find the means to heal the deep wounds that various churches within the Mormon tradition have inflicted on women, on lesbian and gay people, and on gender variant people.

The LDS church continues to turn a blind eye to its members' needs. The suicides among lesbian and gay members in that church are blood that stains the doctrines, practices, and attitudes of many members of that church. Affirmation will continue to bear witness to the plight of LDS church members in need. I don't believe in God, but I do believe in hope. I believe in thoughtful reflection, in prayerful communication, in witness for change and truth.

I've said many times in the past that you can kick the boy out of the church, but you can't kick the church out of the boy. And that's about as spiritual as I can get.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


A paradox of time unfolded.
A messy catapult exploded
lovers' reveries of distant stars,
querulous quantum leaps so tiny
a billion billion billion fit inside my heinie
squatting on a beach quite cold
inside my trunks some sparkles bold, and
instantly my buttocks warmed quite brightly;
a vibration, cosmic, shuddered from the planet Mars,
a broken thought bent in a jaundiced eye
of pain-ed hearts, of tears, and lines unsightly.
Looking back from future time I picked a scab
I felt a stab. I knew the emptiness, the scars
from family, friends, and lovers, now acquaintances
dismembered by a messy, passing comet,
their faces silent, contorted by the time compression.
My heinie now a hillock and each memory
a flower growing growing growing and exploding
in ten thousand thousand silicon dioxide
integrated circuits, parsing passing reveries
of Mars of bars of stars of lovers and their lips
of my organic, vegan boyfriend and his hips
writhing on a beach and pulling down my trunks
playing with my heinie and a messy catapult
exploded sparkles bold and buttocks warmed.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Little Resolve Around Here

Here's a preliminary list.

  1. Okay, I intend to write in this blog more often. That is a threat!
  2. I'm going to be slimmer in 2010. The love handles will still be there, just a tiny bit harder to grab onto.
  3. I'm going to review C-1 square dance calls at least once a week. Tim will keep me honest.
  4. I'm going to be as heartless about clutter as Ron is (I'm trembling, already).
  5. I'm going to crack my Portuguese phrasebook.
  6. I'm going less for sex and more for camaraderie this year (present blog readers excluded).
  7. I'm going to get back to my civic software project.
  8. I'm going to write at least one poem a month.
  9. I'm going to write at least one short story, and share with my readers (both of you).
  10. I'm going to visit the Smithsonian at least six times this coming year.

None of these are earth shattering, but are some little things I really want to do, which should improve the quality of my interior planet considerably. As I lay in bed this morning, reveling in this New Year, I felt so grateful and happy, so alive to this arbitrary moment of made up possibilities. It was a perfect morning for a new year.

love handles
Love Handle Example