Category Archives: Get involved

Hate is NOT a family (or American) value


When I was 17, I got involved with lesbian, gay, bisexual rights as my high school was forming its gay-straight alliance. In the 90s, this was still considered progressive and controversial. I have taken part in marches and other moves for equality, including blogging about them, ever since.

Yesterday, I went to the National March for Equality in Washington DC. For me, the march was special for two reasons, one unlike the DC pride parade, this one passed both the white house and the capitol. Two, I spent sometime talking to someone who has been out of the closet for quite a while, but who had never done anything like this. He was a proud member of the US military and, therefore, barred from participation. Having left the military officially the day before, this was our celebration. For him, this was a second step out of the closet; one where he could allow himself to be overwhelmed by the number of people marching, the PFLAG (Parents and Family of Lesbian and Gays) mothers screaming “we love you”, and feeling of celebration that the march gave him.

I have heard the argument that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) doesn’t harm anyone, because it doesn’t actually forbid service members from being gay. Silence is harmful. Silence teaches to internalize a sense of self that is less worthy. Silence says that we, as a country, support discrimination. And, silence, and the internalized homophobia that accompanies it, is hard and painful to unlearn. Support our troops– repeal DADT.

DADT**This photo by RandalM– check out his page for more great photos**

Great Resources for this year’s Banned Book Week


We are at the beginning of banned book week (Sept 26-October 3). For those of my blog readers (and those who read on facebook and don’t even know this is connected to a blog) who don’t know what banned book week is, I encourage you to check out the 2009 BBW website. There you will learn:

Banned Books Week is the only national celebration of the freedom to read. It was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than a thousand books have been challenged since 1982. The challenges have occurred in every state and in hundreds of communities. Click here to see a map of book bans and challenges in the US from 2007 to 2009. People challenge books that they say are too sexual or too violent. They object to profanity and slang, and protest against offensive portrayals of racial or religious groups–or positive portrayals of homosexuals. Their targets range from books that explore the latest problems to classic and beloved works of American literature.

Here is what Katie Couric had to say on the topic:

And an advertisement with muppets that hopes to education children and adults alike about why books should never be banned:

***Thanks to Mombian for bringing this commercial to my attention.

According to the American Library Association, out of 513 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2008. 

The 10 most challenged titles were:

And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Reasons: anti-ethnic, anti-family, homosexuality, religious viewpoint,
and unsuited to age group

His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman
Reasons: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, and violence

(series), by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age

Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
Reasons: occult/satanism, religious viewpoint, and violence

Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
Reasons: occult/satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint,
sexually explicit, and violence

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs, homosexuality, nudity, offensive language, sexually
explicit, suicide, and unsuited to age group

Gossip Girl
(series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age

Uncle Bobby’s Wedding
, by Sarah S. Brannen
Reasons: homosexuality and unsuited to age group

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group

Flashcards of My Life, by Charise Mericle Harper
Reasons: sexually explicit and unsuited to age group

What I learned from Lucy Liu


While I lived in Cambodia, I heard that MTV was starting a counter-trafficking campaign. I was intrigued by the idea. So much of the program, in so many parts of the world, is victims not realizing their vulnerabilities and others not knowing the warning signs to spot and report trafficking. Still, I never concretely see any of the productions, nor did I seek them out.

Recently I heard Lucy Liu speak and saw a trailer to one of the rights-free short documentaries that MTV had produced. I also learned a bit more about their production methods, their impact via independent research, and how they are making the films accessible to a section of society that does not have cable.

Here is the video (split into three parts).  Overall, I was pretty impressed– I hope you take the time to watch.

Find out more at MTV Exit.

Not just sweatshops anymore


From Tanzanian tobacco to Thai shrimp; from Argentine grapes to Tajik cotton, products all over the world are made from child labor and forced labor. The Department of Labor has been compiling a list of goods around the world that are made with child labor and forced labor; they also defined these and how they did their study. For several years, the DOL has made this list but not released it. Earlier this week, they finally released the list in a publication entitled: The Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor.

Silence Speaks


Perhaps I just don’t have much to say these days. Perhaps I am too overwhelmed with work and possibilities of the future. Perhaps I need to get more sleep and have more free time.  Perhaps, I just keep seeing things that I believe are important, oppressions that I feel we should be facing as a country and as individuals, and want to share. Perhaps others have more eloquent words than I.  Or perhaps, what I want to say is already being said.  In the end, today’s post, will be taken from another site.  This time, it is from Mombian (a great site for all news, books, and blogs LGBT and LGBT parenting related).

Silence – Then Not

By Dana on lawrence king

Day of SilenceToday marks the 13th annual Day of Silence, an event where students from middle school to college take some form of a vow of silence to bring attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment.Last year’s event was in memory of Lawrence King, the California eighth-grader shot to death by a classmate because of his sexual orientation and gender expression.We hoped his tragic death would at least lead to change.No such luck.

This year, some students are honoring in memory of Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, an 11-year-old from Springfield, Mass., who took his life April 6 after enduring constant bullying at school, including anti-LGBT attacks, even though he did not identify as gay. He would have turned 12 today.

This is not a “gay” problem, as Walker’s mother said in an interview with the Advocate. This is a societal problem that affects those most vulnerable, our children.

Today many stay silent to make this point. Tomorrow let’s make some noise about this.

When I was in high school, I took an AP English course.  In the semester on writing, we each wrote a portfolio on a topic with pieces coming from different genres.  I choose as my topic LGBT youth.  One piece was an expose journal article on teenage suicide.  I remember this piece probably more than anything else I wrote in high school.  I am still shocked at the statistic that over 1/3 of teenage suicides are related to sexual or gender orientation.  As the Carl Walker’s suicide shows, you don’t even have to identify as gay or transgendered to be deeply affected by bullying around LGBT issues.

I wish more had changed in the last dozen years since I wrote that paper.  And, perhaps things are changing.  But for too many it is too late.

On final very important piece of information taken from Lesbian Dad’s post:

I’m reminded by Ellen DeGeneris on her blog that The Trevor Project is “the only nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention helpline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth.”  866-4-U-TREVOR.

Nicole’s Scavenger Hunt


Nicole decided to do a little photo scavenger hunt.  She gave us a list (mostly focused on a “local” theme) and told people to take pics and post them by March 15.  There is voting on her website.  Please, take pity and go vote so that I don’t feel like that last kid to be picked for a team at recess. Here is my entry:

Note– for some crazy reason, I decided that I wanted to shoot all the pictures in my house.  This would have been much easier had I not given myself the additional challenge.  It also might have been more interesting. Oh well. Live and learn.

Note– for those that don’t read my blog, my dog and I travel a lot.  I do believe that not only is the world my playground, but it is also my home away from my America home.

Note– one picture is recycled and not from my house.  But, I look at it often.  Does that count? Wanna guess which photo?

1) local currency

2) local flag

Milwaukee Join the Impact
3) local food (I am from and in Wisconsin, the land of cheese)


4) something rusty (3rd to last hanger is actually rusty)


5) local wildlife (My parents’ condo, where I currently am, does not allow dogs.  This is Blade, the condo dog).

6) local nature

7) local stamp

8) part of your neighborhood (it can be a very small part ;) )

9) traditional house

10) a local person

11) local weather (so cold the dog spends the day under a blanket!)

12) local transportation (got no car, just two walking feet)

13) traditional local clothing

14) night sky (as seen by my niece)

15) sunrise

16) local product non food (made in Chile, another place that is often called home, and hanging in the entry way to my parents’ house. It was a gift from my to-be-mother-in-law).

17) something furry

18) something feathery


19) a sign of the season

20) a part of you

21) your main hobby

22) a local shop (there is a consignment store that we love– my mom got these original Disney prints that now hang in the kitchen)

23) a local restaurant (Kopps – best frozen custard anywhere)

24) a street sign (interrupting story time)

25) a local mail box


Here are the other participants:

Participants that have submitted a link:

Terri (USA)
Jientje (Belgium)
Lisa’s Chaos (USA)
Lisa TL (USA)
Keera (Norway)
Ang (USA)
Pamela (USA)
L-Squared (USA)
Dallas (Belgium)
Mojo (USA)
Macaholi (Kuwait)
Clare (USA)
BLOGitse (Egypt)
Dan (USA)
Scriber’s Web (USA)
Øyvind (Norway)
Kristi (USA)

Not yet totally complete:

Phojus (UK)
Chris (USA)
Carol (USA)
Mathew (Ireland)

Participants so far without hunt link:

Jo Peattie (Hungary)
Dekrit (Indonesia)
Jonathan (USA)
Typ0 (Egypt)
Lou USA)
Tracey (USA)

Freedom To Marry Week 2009 Announcement


Thank you Chilenguita for pointing out this video from the Courage Campaign. I can’t even begin to express how important I feel it is for allies to get involved with movements.  Yes, I beleive that straight couples should actively talk about why the believe in and support gay marriage.  I also think it is important for white people to explore their privilege and get involved in fighting racism.  And, yes, this not so subtle message is for you fellow bloggers who happen to be heterosexual, I think you should get involved in Freedom to Marry Week.

Also Chilenguita’s video goes along so well with the Freedom to Marry announcement I am making below.  Plus, I too found it to be very powerful and moving.

The following information is from the Freedom to Marry Website.

Mombian is giving out prizes to people who participate (gay or straight)

The Other Mother is also running a parralel 4 day activity featuring something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.


[ + ] Text []

Freedom to Marry Week 2009

Freedom to Marry Week
12th Annual Observance
February 8-14, 2009

People across the country are pledging to take part in 7 Conversations in 7 Days in honor of the 12th annual Freedom to Marry Week, February 8-14, 2009. Join in the pledge today!


Having conversations is the single most important action you can take towards achieving marriage equality nationwide.


Get involved by joining in any of the 7 different ways to have conversations Feb. 8-14. We will highlight different ways to get involved each day, but feel free to get involved any way possible any day of the week!

Sunday, February 8th: YouTube Challenge

Submit a video to our YouTube Challenge for a chance to win cash prizes.

Monday, February 9th: Make Your Voice Heard

Add your face and voice to the conversation.  Create a blog post, vlog, comment on our blog, change your status on facebook, or change your picture on social networks.

Tuesday, February 10th: Email for Equality

Sign the marriage resolution and email it to friends.  Support your state’s equality organization and sign and circulate their petitions too!

Wednesday, February 11th:  Button Up for Equality

Sign up to receive a button to wear or put our html button on your website, blog, or social networking page.

Thursday, February 12th: Face to Face to Equality

Have a face to face conversation by attending or hosting an event.  Tell us about any events happening during the week, and we’ll post them.

Friday, February 13th: Txt 4 Equality

Receive a text or tweet about why marriage matters and forward on to friends.

Saturday, February 14th: Get Local With It

Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.

Encourage your friends, family, and co-workers to take the pledge to have 7 Conversations in 7 Days this February 8-14!

Stuck on what to say? Pick up some talking points and conversation starters here: How to talk about marriage equality.

Happy New Year…. you have just moved.


Dey Krahom Eviction, originally uploaded by jinja_cambodia.

I haven’t talked about Cambodia in a while, because I left in July 2007 and haven’t had the chance to get back. However, the recent events (brought to my attention by Webbed Feet, Webbed log) make me want to post something.

On Chinese New Year, at roughly 6am, both the military police and regular police, plus workers stormed Dey Krahom and forcibly evicted the people living there. (In Chile, similar things have happened with different “Tomas” around the city).

Check out Jinja’s post.

I know, at least on the Chile blogsphere, we have been talking about how little we know about geography. Perhaps, this is a good time to learn a bit more about another corner of the world…


Older but no less relevant:
Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:
Part 4:

News Articles:
Ka-Set: ‘Land violences in Cambodia: Dey Krohom razed to the ground following a tough eviction’
Phnom Penh Post: ‘Relocated residents find homes, water lacking’
Phnom Penh Post:’Evictees request 7NG money’
Phnom Penh Post:’We Have No Home, Say Evictees’
Reuters: ‘Eight Hurt in Cambodia Eviction’

Global Voices Online: Cambodia: Demolition of Dey Krahorm Community
Andy Brouwer: ‘Death of Dey Krahom’
‘Families face imminent forced eviction in Cambodia’
‘Without warning, Bulldozers enter Dey Krahorm’
‘Hopes Flattened at Dey Krahom’
‘Dey Krahom Razed to the Ground’
‘Multimedia on Dey Krahom’
‘Dey Krahom Eviction’
Sacrava Cartoon:

Press Releases:
Dey Krahom Urgent Action Appeal

Editorials: Cambodia Mirror

Book Review: A Long Way Gone



I was up long past my bedtime last night because I simply couldn’t put this book down.  It made me lose hope in humanity. It made me cry. It made me value how easy I have had it.  It made me gain home in humanity. It made me cherish the resilience of children. But most of all, it allowed me to feel.

My favorite part of this book is that you live the experience with him.  Until the end, there is no huge focus on hindsight.  He rationalizes what is happening around him in the way they he understood it at the time.  This allows a person, with some amount of empathy, to understand why a child breaks so quickly, the relief given by drugs, how killing is justified, and how equally frustrating the rehabilitation process is.

Throughout the book I was poignantly aware the Ismael Beah is my age.  He is 28 right now. When I was an exchange student in high school, leaving home for the first time, he was beginning his rehabilitation process.  He had already been a soldier for three years.  He had already lost his family, his old life, his village and everything he knew.

The UNHCR (UN agency that works with refugees) defines the term:

The term “child soldier” has become widely adopted, and will, therefore, be used to cover any person under 18 years of age who is part of any kind of regular or irregular armed force or armed group in any capacity other than purely as a family member. It does not, therefore, only refer to those carrying arms, but includes cooks, porters, messengers, and those accompanying such groups, including girls recruited as concubines or for forced marriage.

According to Amnesty international:

Approximately 250,000 children under the age of 18 are thought to be fighting in conflicts around the world, and hundreds of thousands more are members of armed forces who could be sent into combat at any time. Although most child soldiers are between 15 and 18 years old, significant recruitment starts at the age of 10 and the use of even younger children has been recorded.

The US State Department further affirms that

Child soldiers are a global phenomenon. The problem is most critical in Africa and Asia, but armed groups in the Americas, Eurasia, and the Middle East also use children.

Educate yourself.  This is a real problem that continues today. I wish that when I worked with the International Institute of St. Louis I had known more about the topic. I wish it had been covered in my refugees and immigrants course in more detail.

Got needs?


My blog-friend Emily works for an online company called Needish. I think she enjoys her job as she talks about it and encourages anyone who will listen to join. I did join, but mostly just to appease her. (Sorry Emily!)

Basically, needish is a place where you publish what you need. People need all kinds of things. You can post and ask for an apartment in NY; or a friend; or a recipe like creme brulee; or, like this couple, you can try and trade work for a honeymoon.  Then, you can search for what others need and help them out. If you are an independent photographer like Kyle, you can search for people in your area who need photographers and land yourself some jobs.

I did publish some needs; now I am a huge convert. The needs I have published have been really random and, frankly, I thought I wouldn’t ever get a response. First I posted that I needed an English teacher in Rancagua for S. Got some leads. Didn’t come to much, but that is mostly a time issue. I have also requested help appraising stamps and finding a certain collectable item for christmas present of someone who reads this blog– got responses on both. Currently, the need I have is to know how to get glitter glue out of a wool suit. Not sure if I will get a response, but how cool is it that I can ask? (also, if you know the answer, please leave a comment).

Anyways, without pressure from Emily who has a stake in the business, I am going to plug it. Do you have needs? Get on needish!