Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Solstice - WinterTide

I wish to share a very special song today for the Winter Solstice, called "Wintertide", written and performed by Alexander James Adams, from his album of the same name. A friend of mine created this incredible youtube of the song, and I rounded up most of the pictures for it, a number of which were photographs I have taken myself.
The song speaks, not just of tolerance or acceptance of our differences and our multitude of beliefs, but goes beyond to celebrate diversity with joy and love. I think its a very appropriate song for the Winter Solstice. We hold the light in our hands...never let it go out, and shelter each others light along the way!
Happy Winter Solstice! 



Winter Tide
By Alexander James Adams

 The bitter bite of the winter cold
Brings memories of days of old
Wandering from the shadows long
We sing ourselves a winter song
Now we’re too diverse
We’re too advanced
There’s no song left that we’ve not danced
Yet there remains one thing to learn
To perfect love we must return
Rejoice, rejoice standing hand in hand
Raise one voice all across the land
While the snow white stag with the silver tines
Will dance in a circle of six and nines
Forward back, side to side,
All celebration of the Wintertide
I don’t know you, you don’t know me
But we are kin in humanity
We can laugh, we all can cry
We strive to live, yet still we die
Let’s all seek shelter from the storm
With different faiths to keep us warm
Side by side around the fire
Trust and love are what gods require
            (Repeat refrain)
We need to keep the dark at bay
We need to watch the words we say
Comparisons keep us at odds
There’s room inside for all our Gods
Embrace the things that we all share
‘Cause then we find compassion there
To those who thirst you offer drink
It’s not as hard as you might think

So ring the bells and sound the horn
And celebrate our love reborn
Back to back or eye to eye
We stand as one against the sky
Different and yet still the same
Acceptance lies beyond the name
You live and breathe, the same as me
Respect of this brings unity
Rejoice, rejoice standing hand in hand
Raise one voice all across the land
While the snow white stag with the silver tines
Will dance in a circle of six and nines
Forward back, side to side,
All celebration of the Wintertide

(Repeat Refrain) 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

No More Turning Away ~ A Dedication to the People of Newtown, Connecticut

No more turning away. 
This will make you weep...
and heal your soul. 
Always remember. 
Take a stand. 
Never turn away. 
Be the voice of those who no longer speak, 
be the strength for those who suffer, be the light in the darkness. 


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Passing of a Friend - A Person Who Made A Difference to the World...

Linda Russell Walton 1963 - 2012
It took me awhile to pull myself together to write this. Last month, on September 16th, my dear friend Linda passed away at the age of 49. Today, I am going to a Wake/Celebration of her life - apparently about 100 people at least are showing up....and for every 1 of them there are 10 more at least who want to make it, but can't get there - I'm serious. This lady touched a lot of lives.

You see, back in May of last year, I posted a blog post, and PLEASE go read this now, "One plus One plus One, or...Its OK to be Takei!" about the "Its OK to be Takei" activist movement, about the logo that George Takei adopted when the Tennessee schools made it illegal to use the word "Gay" in the class room. The artist who designed the logo requested to remain anonymous. Well, anonymous no more...Linda, here above, my friend, is the lady who designed that logo! And I by God am going to credit her now for that powerful piece of activism! (Actually, the news is pretty much out all over the net, now that she's passed.) Yeah. THAT'S how many lives she touched....as well as so many people on a personal level. The comments at the bottom of the post, the two by MisBehavin'...That's Linda, herself, commenting on what I had written.

George Takei, on hearing of her death, sent these words to us, "I am saddened by this news. I really appreciated the effort she made--and the message of hope she helped spread. My deepest condolences to her family and friends. She was taken too, too early."

She was an artist, and an activist for everything good and true for everything from women's rights to GLBT issues. She was fun, with a great sense of humor and unpredictable and delightfully quirky! She was my roommate for a few years, a decade ago, and we've stayed close ever since. She was a loyal friend and dearer than a sister and her death was a shock. ...I STILL just barely have any words right now. 

She made me a better person, and she supported me through so many things, as an artist, and as a human being, including discovering my life's journey as a transperson and returning to school to be a therapist.She was an example to everyone who knew her on how to live life and get it right! 

I have an empty Linda shaped hole in my life right now, and nothing else will ever fill it. 

Til we meet again, Linda. Til we meet again...and what is remembered, lives!


Thank you, Linda...you made a difference,
more than you will ever know.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Anniversary of Mathew Shepard's Death - The Laramie Project


Today is the 14th anniversary of Mathew Shepard's death...

He would have been 36 this year, if he had lived.

Mathew Shepard was a student at the University of Wyoming who was tortured and murdered near Laramie, Wyoming, U.S.A., in October 1998 because he was gay. This hate crime rocked the nation at the time.  He was attacked on the night of October 6–7, and died at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, on October 12 from severe head injuries.

Shepard's murder brought national and international attention to the contention of hate crime legislation at the state and federal levels.

In 2009, his mother Judy Shepard authored a book The Meaning of Matthew: My Son's Murder in Laramie, and a World Transformed. On October 22, 2009, the United States Congress passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (Matthew Shepard Act for short), and on October 28, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the legislation into law.

The Laramie Project is a stage play made into a full length feature film based on direct interviews of the residents of Laramie during the media frenzy and the trial of Mathew's murderers.
This the entire film posted here - if you find time, today is a good day to watch it...and think...and remember.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

And Then There's Coming Out of the Closet...

Coming Out has a special meaning in the GLBT community...its a phrase filled with anxiety, fear and tension for many of us. Some people are militant about being Out. Others choose to be in the closet for their entire lives. Many others choose paths that that steers a course between the two...Out to some people - friends or family - but not out to others - friends or family. Some keep their lives totally private from their place of employment or worship. I have seen people pressure others to come Out, and other people point out that in some cases, the damage caused by coming Out can be more detrimental than beneficial - to both sides. There are some who will Out other people, taking the choice out of their hands. (and not all closets are necessarily GLBT closets, either.) I have from time to time been in several various closets in my life, a few not GLBT related...and been Outed once. That's a tale for another post and another time, save to say it was a horribly damaging thing, and did harm.

I am Out of the closet as GLBT with my brother and his wife, and I also have a nephew who was sharp enough to spot it (really, it doesn't take much! Argh!) But we have long and long been in the closet with my parents, for a number of reasons. Or maybe rather, for ONE reason...my Dad.
My father just turned 85 this year. I was born when he was in his thirties, and that has put an interesting age skew with us...he is more the age a grandfather would be, then a father. He is an incredible, loving man and he has been a wonderful father, friend and mentor to me all my life. However, there's a reason, or are reasons rather, that I remain closeted to him as gay and/or transgender.

That would be because he is a conservative fundamentalist individual who, as he has aged in the last decade, has become extreme in his beliefs. He has never been particularly tolerant in his views and outlook...but he has moved in his old age to being extremely paranoid, vehemently prejudiced and basically is a fundie, right wing, irascible old coot who can be very hard to live with. Politically, he is a wingnut Birther conservative, and religiously he is convinced Armageddon will occur tomorrow and buys into every single conspiracy theory that goes by him, irregardless of whether or not there is any proof of said conspiracy. He absolutely refuses to let a fact get in the way of a good opinion, and when he gets going on a political or religious rant - or both, which he can combine very nicely - there is really no talking to him. He also can be very judgmental, and his love can be very conditional.  What makes this so confusing is that he often behaves very differently from what he says...one on one with someone, he can be enormously respectful, thoughtful and would not dream of applying what he believes in the abstract to a person individually. We mostly at this stage of our lives limit political discussions, and when they cannot be avoided, I bite my tongue...A LOT.

A huge part of his sharpness and anger and paranoia simply comes from fear of change. He has always had a fairly rigid personality that has been resistant to change...now in his 80's, his veiws and opinions are militantly set in concrete. Some of it may have some basis in mild cognitive decline with age as well.

And he is very homophobic. He said to me one time in a memorable conversation that Gays were the reason God had turned his back on America....and then at the end of the same conversation, asked how Dreamweaver was doing, and said that he and mom sent their love to her. It left me banging my head on the nearest flat surface. Repeatedly. Mom and Dad have accepted Dreamweaver with open arms from the very beginning. They have welcomed her, loved her, called her their other daughter, insisted she be invited for holidays, and family reunions. And the words, Gay or Partner, or Wife have never, ever been spoken. EVER. For to say those words would be to change the entire dynamic. Whatever internal process or reasoning in Dad's subconscious that allows him to lash out at Gays on the one hand, and yet still love and accept Dreamweaver into the family with such love - well, its balanced on a knife edge. And the word "Gay" could destroy that balance fatally for him. (I can't even begin to figure out where he would be with me being transgender!)

My Mom is a different proposition altogether. She is smart, savy, and doesn't miss a damn thing. She is also profoundly committed to unconditional love for her children, and will listen without judgement. She may or may not approve, but she would never, ever cut off a friend or one of her children or turn love into bitterness or division. We have long said that whatever Dad may or may not know about us, Mom has nailed it in one, she's just never said anything. She has to live with my Dad and his political, religious views and rants, God bless her.

So, our reasoning has always been that, given the precious love and acceptance we have with my parents, that "coming Out" was not necessary. We are included in the family and treated as a couple, and putting a name to that could destroy that relationship we have with my parents and my Dad, in particular. A clear cut case of when Coming Out could actually cause more harm and damage than good. And that meant not telling either of them, because we have felt that it was an unnecessary burden for Mom to carry, as a secret from Dad, and not fair to ask her to do that. Even when I have wrestled with whether or not to tell them, Dreamweaver has advocated that this was the best way to go, in terms of dealing with them, that we should cherish what we have with them, as it is. Of course, this also means we have lived in some fear and trepidation of discovery from some secondary source - its a rather interlinked community I live in. Which is one of the concerns of being in the closet in the town you grew up in.

However, all this came to a explosive moment in time this past February, when my sister in law who is friends with us on Facebook contacted me and said Mom had decided to enter the 21st century, acquire a laptop and join Facebook. We are rather Out on our FB pages...like, blatantly so. Um. So, there's my sister in law suggesting she unfriend us so Mom won't trip over us on her friends list and wall, there we are checking privacy settings and looking in dismay at some thousand odd posts and comments about GLBT issues, Pride flags, articles on transgenderism and so forth and all of us freaking out. My Dad does use the computer in the back study in a limited sort of way, for email and playing solitaire, but he regards the Internet as a necessary evil where something might jump out of the blue and eat his computer, and Facebook is Satanic. Which has been a distinct relief, as we've never had to worry about him tripping over us on line. He can barely figure out how to run his email, he could not copy/paste if his life depended on it, and I am just as glad not to have him sucked into the world of conspiracy theories on line, its bad enough as it is with his books and print publications! But it does mean that we've never had to worry about him. Mom on the other hand...oh boy.

And my calm, rational Dreamweaver, who for almost 9 years has advocated for not coming Out, has pointed out the good things about our relationship with my folks, and that we did not need to say the word, as long as we had the reality behind the words; who has always said that Coming Out or not Coming Out has nothing to do with whether or not you love your partner, went ballistic on the spot. The gist of what she said was that she did her best to live her life authentically, she wasn't about to shut down her whole FB page or the way she posted on it just because of this, that this put my parents on her territory and she flat refused to be my dirty little secret and I had no right to make her be so.

Actually, she was yelling all this at the top of her lungs. It was sort of a "Who are you and what have you done with my Dreamweaver?!" moment. I expected to see her head start spinning around 360 degrees at any moment. I couldn't get any words out, I was so shocked. I just stood there with my mouth hanging open.

After a couple of go rounds and escalating repetitions, with me mostly managing to intelligently interject "But....but...but...", we finally went to bed...me sitting there stunned and speechless on my side of the bed, and Dreamweaver lying on her side with her back very pointedly and eloquently turned to me, and loudly not saying anything. So, I sat there. And then I did the only thing I could do.
I reached over, picked up my phone, and dialed my parents number. Dreamweaver, of course had no idea who I was calling or what I was about to do, initially, so she was still turned away fuming, eloquent shoulder blades and all...

....right up until I said "Hi Dad, I need to speak to Mom."

Dreamweaver levitated about three feet straight up, spun in mid air and landed sitting bolt up right, eyes shocked wide open, mouthing "NO! No! Wait, WAIT, HOLD IT!" at me frantically.

Frankly, it was hilarious, after the fact!

I waved at her to desist and said to Mom, when she came on the line that I really needed some time with her, just us, her and me and could we maybe go to lunch together sometime the following week. She said she would love to, we set up a time for the following Tuesday, restaurant to be named, and I got off the phone....and turned to see  Dreamweaver going "But...but...but..."! I just said that she was right, and it was time to call the charade off and Mom and I would just have to figure out what to do about Dad. If she felt he didn't need to know, all well and good, but if she felt she did have to tell him, then we'd have to weather that as we came to it. Dreamweaver, reluctantly agreed.

So, the following Tuesday, I went out to Mom and Dad's, already to pick her up and go out to dinner. Now, my mom has limited mobility due to a severe chronic untreatable back issue and uses a wheel chair and a walker - which since I drive a van, posed no great trouble to getting around. And I was going to let her pick the restaurant because she would probably choose one nearby, and we could watch our time and her stamina as to how long she could comfortably sit. And despite my colossal case of nerves, I was looking forward to one on one time with her which I seldom get, since detaching my Dad from her warrants dynamite. So I got there and hit the immovable object - my dad.

My Dad immediately began saying that Mom was not feeling well, and not up to going out, and he would gladly go down stairs to the finished basement floor which is where his studio and his music is (read man-cave) and put on music and close the doors and give us total privacy and wouldn't attempt to listen in and...he was all but babbling. Meanwhile, every time he paused for breath, MOM was saying, "I will be glad to go out with you and have lunch, its totally your choice!"

After a few minutes of watching this back and forth ping pong match going, I finally, reluctantly sighed, and told Dad that Mom and I would stay in, and that I appreciated his willingness to give us private space to talk. That part I wasn't worried about, oddly enough. Dad, for all his quirks, has very good boundaries. If he said he wasn't going to listen in, well, he wasn't going to listen in. I could trust that. So off he went downstairs and shut the doors, and there sat Mom and I.

After a few minutes of random, "how are you doing" conversation, Mom asked what I needed to talk about. I took a deep breath, and said, well, I know you are getting on line and on FB and I would love to friend you. But if you do, and we do, I need to tell you...(deep breath) well, you can't possibly have missed that Dreamweaver and I are not just friends. We are a couple, together. You did spot that, didn't you. She nodded and gravely said, well, yes I did. (Knew I was right about her spotting it. One smart woman.) So, I talked for a bit, about having wrestled with the knowledge of being gay my whole life, and how hard I tried not to be, and that I had also realized I was transgender. I talked about things from my childhood that had been indicators, but that even I hadn't realized them at the time. (Mom, you must understand, is my step mother - she and my Dad married when I was 19. And that is a blog post unto itself for another time, but suffice to say that I am blessed she's in my life and love her as much as my birth mother, who passed away when I was younger.) She agreed, upon hearing some of the things I related to her about my childhood, that if she had been there as my birth parent, she would have spotted it too.

Now, all through this, she has been grave and quiet, listening intensely. I was not worried about her cutting me off or lashing out at me, because she has always made it clear that her love for me was totally unconditional. She has always lived that unconditional love towards all her children. But her reaction was really, really hard to read. I was starting to mentally chew fingernails and panic, because I really couldn't tell what was going on behind those intense quiet brown eyes. Finally, she jumped in at a pause in the conversation and asked a question of her own, good Episcopalian that she is; "Does your church know about this?"
I said "Absolutely, I told them from the very first day. They accepted me and they have accepted us, Dreamweaver and I, totally, as a couple. We sit together in church like any other couple and are totally Out to them, to every one."

And that is when the smile broke out on my Mom's face and she said "And that is how it should be!"

I nearly melted through the floor in limp relief. You have no idea...or maybe you do. But I felt as if the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders.

After that, the conversation immediately turned to the big question. Dad. I told her that one of the reasons I had never told her, come Out to her, was that I really hated placing upon her the burden of what to do about Dad, and that if she looked at me and said, that we had to tell him, because she wasn't comfortable keeping secrets from her husband, I would go get him. She smiled and said, "I really don't think we should tell him anything - I don't think he would understand." (that's ONE way to put it!) We discussed FB and agreed that if she got on it, she would probably not actively friend me, as much as neither one of us liked that solution, because it would keep Dad from nosing over her shoulder and possibly seeing something he shouldn't. She told me she loved me, and Dreamweaver.

And that was that.

All those years of worry, and panic...gone. Done. Over. Of course, there's still Dad. But there will always be Dad. Mom now knows, and loves us and is allied on our side! I haven't had much chance to talk to her since then about this specifically, as they live some distance away, though within driving, and she doesn't talk on the phone much. Not to mention Dad hovering like a small buzzing over protective irate conservative fundamentalist humming bird. But we will have more conversations as opportunities arise, I feel certain, and Dreamweaver and I feel a relief that is almost beyond words. I went down and got my Dad who was happily sacked out on the sofa with the music turned up high, and he never asked the first question. Whatever I had wanted to talk about, in his mind, belonged between Mom and me, and he would never dream of intruding. That's my Dad at his best! That is the father I love. And we all sat down to dinner, a happy family. And of course I called Dreamweaver on the way home and babbled with relief; she totally melted with relief right back. And I also told my brother and sister-in-law, who had been aware this was taking place and had their fingers crossed! And there was much rejoicing all around!

Coming Out doesn't turn out this way for everyone. Some people choose not to, and knowing their own situations better than anyone else can, they may be choosing very wisely - I was fortunate. It brought love and healing. For some people, it destroys and permanently divides. It is a choice that each person must make according to what they know and understand and feel about themselves, their family and their situation. And each person's choice should be respected.

But for me, Coming Out turned out to be one of the best things ever!

And as my lovely, GLBT Welcoming and Affirming Episcopal church would say...

"Thanks be to God!"

Maybe someday we will live in a world, where closets won't be necessary....








Wednesday, August 15, 2012

And the new hip!

X=ray from today of new hip joint
(the left one - which is the one on your right in this picture. )
And here's the new hip - the left one. The other one I had done roughly four years ago. I am recovering very well, its been a long, long haul! Still a little stiff-ish, sore, and can see some bruising still from the clamps. A few muscle groups are still aching from being yanked around during installing the hip. All of which are normal at this point in the game. I am walking. I am pretty much completely off pain meds. And the pain that had me thinking I was walking on a broken leg is gone! Yay, 2 hips done, I'm through. No  more hips to worry about. 

The new hip installed in the left hip. 

Slowly working on picking up the pace again. I am managing housework, and walking for exercise. I will be returning to school,. to painting and to blogging! And I am very grateful to be able to move normally for the first time in my entire life! This is a very good thing!

Friday, July 27, 2012

And an Update...

Me and my puppy, MacDubh, right after  I got home from the hospital...

I had my left hip replaced on July 9th. It went very well - I was up walking the day after the surgery, and they kicked me out of the hospital and let me go home a day early. I am off painkillers now and walking with a cane, and have just been released to drive. I still get tired easily, and I have to be careful, since although the surgery incision is healing very quickly, it still takes the bone 3 months to heal and I need to be sure I don't do anything to pop the new hip back out of joint. Its still sore, no doubt about it, but I am doing very well. And there should be some more blog posts now that I have gotten the narcotic pain killers out of my system!

Blessed Be, folks!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Blog post from Left Cheek - Galileo:King of Insight

I found myself quoted today in a friends blog, The leftcheek blog, in his post "Galileo: King of Insight". This is  quoted from a comment thread where a friend and I were discussing Chick Fill-A's anti GLBT stance. My friend is not a rabid fundamentalist, but she is questioning and thinking through the conservative view points she was taught all her life. I made a fairly impassioned plea from the Christian perspective (remember, being Episcopagan - a member of the Episcopal church and a pagan priest still leaves me being Christian as well as Pagan!). The left cheek blog picked up my comment when I shared it further, and has posted it as a blog post! Really, really neat!
Here is what he posted (and I originally wrote):


"The following beautiful response was written by a friend, artist Cameron Webb, to another friend. It is quoted with permission. Please feel free to share:

All of the things that create a marriage, that sustain it, that make it holy - loving, caring, sacrificial giving on both sides as Christ loved and died for us - egalitarianism, nurturing, honoring, cherishing - all these things are what God ordained.

None of those things have anything to do with the race, gender, sexual orientation, able-ism (and handicapped people have been denied marriage rights in the past, and discriminated against in this same way, and in areas, still are today). God created this world with infinite variations. Male penguins and sea horses that care for the young, creatures that procreate in ways that blend gender and sex roles. There are animals that will literally change sex, in certain instances. There are instances of homosexual couples in thousands of animals - a natural variation of the infinite incredible world that God has created. Humans are no exceptions.

We are created just as varied. An infinite, complex diverse God created and ordained uniqueness that is so complex that each individual's combination of gender identity, orientation and sexual formation is unique to each and every one of us.

Heterosexuality is by far and away the dominant variation, just as many other variations are dominant throughout creation. But given the variations of all the infinite creation, we have enshrined heterosexuality, paired it with a narrow definition of what gender traits must go with what, and we have made it an idol to be worshiped, to the exclusion of and condemning all of the rest of God's creation.

Remember, there was a firm belief in the middle ages that the earth was center of the universe, and the sun revolved around it - a belief held based on Biblical language. We know today that the poetic Spirit-breathed words of scripture of the universe do not, on the surface reading, explain the fact that the sun is in the center and the planets orbit it, as God ordained.

The upheaval of that realization left ruined lives due to the church's violent opposition. It was not until the 16th century that a fully predictive mathematical model of a heliocentric system was presented, by the Renaissance mathematician, astronomer, and Catholic cleric Nicolaus Copernicus of Poland, leading to the Copernican Revolution. In the following century, Johannes Kepler elaborated upon and expanded this model to include elliptical orbits, and supporting observations made using a telescope were presented by Galileo Galilei.

All three men faced disdain, persecution by the church.

Copernicus waited until his death bed to publish his scientific findings for fear of the church; Galileo was threatened with torture and exiled to permanent house arrest for the remainder of his life for advocating the beautiful heliocentric solar system that today we praise God for.

Today, science is turning up more and more and more evidence faster and faster that substantiates the infinite and beautiful variations of human sex, orientation, and gender created so complexly by our Incredible creator.

The Bible is misquoted, mistranslated and out-right ignored and used, as it was used on Copernicus and Galileo, to support HUMAN prejudices and idolatry, all the while ignoring not only his infinite complex creation, but the true heart of marriage - to love, honor, cherish, and love as Christ loved us. Our marriages fail, because we do not nurture, cherish, honor and love one another as Christ loved us and died for us, as He loves and nurtures us still.

And as long as we focus on human prejudice - hatred and destruction of relationships - and refuse to honor God and all his stunning creation, we will live with this idea that marriage has to do with anything, but what God intended: to love and honor one another."


I am so honored that something I have written has been shared and may hopefully be used to help clarify issues for others! What an incredibly great thing! Please check out my friends blog, and browse - its a really good blog!

May my words further the Light!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Some times we MUST share!

Dreamweaver, after reading my blog post from last night, posted some thoughts of her own in a post titled "Dreaming the Dream and Weaving the Path", on her own blog, The Back Burner. Its great! Go read it! I love this woman!

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Silence of the Blog....



Well...I see that my last post was in February. That would be the result of life suddenly running over me and leaving very large tire tracks up my back. I think that it might be a good thing to try to catch up. Because if I wait for it to slow back down, to catch my breath, I'll still be sitting here looking at a blank blog post with my brain churning. 

I know there are people who follow my blog posts and read what I write - those of you who do, please accept my apologies. You have to be wondering if I fell down a deep dark hole. The answer is yes, almost. It has sometimes felt like that. 

Just after my last post, the following happened - all in a one thing right after another blur, no time to stop and think...

-  in February, I abruptly came Out to my Mom, after years of being in the closet as a gay and transgender. 
- almost immediately thereafter, my beloved Dreamweaver was devastatingly diagnosed with Chronic Hepatitis B, or rather, it was identified, so to speak. 
- and immediately after that I had major oral surgery, which you don't want to hear about and I don't want to talk about. Suffice to say, that flattened me fairly nicely for a few weeks. 
- And my left hip went out. I mean it...went...out. As in, I went to the emergency room because I thought I was walking - if that's the term - on a broken hip. Which I was not, but you could have fooled me! 
- and as a result of said hip going out, I am now on medical leave from Graduate school, awaiting hip replacement surgery. Like, next month. 

All of the above happened between the end of February and the beginning of May. Its sort of been, "Wait, what???" in the extreme! So now, I am trying to figure out how to do this and get back in the rhythm of writing, because blogging is very important to me. Of course, any one of the events of the past basically 3-4 months listed above is a blog post unto itself. Long ones. A few of those qualify for several long blog posts. (Except for the oral surgery one we're not discussing - lets just say there were a few weeks where food was a distant memory, and I couldn't have written anything through the haze of prescription of Lortab anyway, and let it go at that...really! There, see, one thing off the list already!) 

I guess, to twist the old quote, I should "Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.", as the King said to the White Rabbit in Wonderland. I guess looking over the events listed above, I have my next few blog posts lined up. And I think I will begin with the event that was perhaps the hardest one to grasp - Dreamweaver's medical diagnosis. 


Dreamweaver
Dreamweaver is my wife, my lover, my best friend. We have known each other since 2000, and were friends for years before we ever fell in love. We have been together as a couple for nine years come this August. It has been quite a roller coaster ride, with unexpected twists and turns every step of the way...and we have come through every single up and down, storm and disaster, still together, still in love, still death do us part, and beyond, if we have anything to say about it. 

We were friends before we ever fell in love. We were both in relationships with other people, way back then. We both survived the crash of relationships that we believed at the time were forever. We went through a break up of our own early on, and both realized that we didn't want to live without the other in our lives. We've been inseparable ever since. She's the fiery, passionate one, I'm the laid back easygoing one - we form an amazing whole - we remain two strong independent individuals that together have formed something that is far greater than the sum of its parts. We're still ridiculously in love heading into our 9th year. She's held the heavy, difficult, burden of being the breadwinner, mostly, due to the fact that when the economy began its downhill slide, my art business dried up and vanished. I've picked myself up, and with her encouragement and dreams, gone back to school to forge a new career. She has seen me through medical issues, as I have had my right hip replaced, and I've been there for her as she also returned to school for a second - or perhaps third - career herself. We find joy everyday in each other's company.

And there have been things she has struggled with all these years we've been together that have indicated, subtly, that something was wrong. Fatigue, aching, bone jarring chronic fatigue. Constant struggles off and on with diarrhea, with insomnia, irritability, susceptibility to illness and the flu, and muscle aches and unexplained nausea...all of it subtle, all of it off again and on again, good years and bad years. She's struggled with having any energy at all, with having virtually no social life because she just hasn't felt up to it. We've never had an explanation for it, never put all the pieces together. And in late February/early March of this year, she mentioned to the Doctor on staff where she works about the fatigue, inquiring if maybe she had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, perhaps related to a major illness when she was a teenager. Further inquires turned up that no, not Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - rather she had been diagnosed back then with Mononucleosis and Hepatitis B and hospitalized, weak and jaundiced, only hours before she would have died of an enlarged spleen about to rupture. Her story is a complex and often horrifying one - her mother was a Paranoid Schizophrenic with Hallucinations, who ignored and neglected her daughter all through Dreamweaver's childhood and teenage years. Medical neglect nearly killed her that time, and further cost her ability to graduate as she continued to be weak, jaundiced and struggled to simply rise from her bed over the following year. No one seemed to understand what was going on...but it was the 80's, and Hepatitis B was assumed to be something you caught and got over, not like the dreaded Hepatitis C, that is chronic and fatal. 

Unfortunately, Hepatitis B CAN BECOME chronic, particularly in company with Mono, and other complications, and if it is chronic, it becomes in many ways indistinguishable from the Hepatitis C version with severe quality of life issues and an eventual 40% mortality rate. Her Doctor at work took one look and after much discussion, scheduled tests for her liver and other things, fearing major damage. Liver cancer is a real risk for people struggling with Hepatitis, and he was very alarmed, given that she clearly has the Chronic variety of Hepatitis B. Every symptom I listed above, that has plagued her and exhausted her? All are symptom's of Chronic Hepatitis B. 

We were stunned. We were frightened and scared and completely rattled. I remember getting off the phone with her at one point shortly after the Doctor had put together what was going on, and just sitting here with tears running down my face, and my heart breaking. I felt totally helpless and totally stunned. 
We struggled to be strong for each other, we turned to our faiths and our friends for support. We ran through every emotional gamut you can think of, waiting for those tests to come back. Its a chronic illness they tell you - you can live 20 - 30 years with difficult symptoms and quality of life issues, yes, but you can live - the fatal complications tend to kick in at the end, they say...DREAMWEAVER'S ALREADY HAD IT FOR THIRTY YEARS! We were severely spooked. Her fatigue and exhaustion and the rest of the symptomatic bucket list (plus a few I didn't add) up there have been getting worse and worse this year. Damn it, we intend to grow old together, not have our time together cut short by something like this - the plea, the terror, the darkest fear of any couple who are one heart, one soul, in two bodies, one flesh in marriage and love. 

And after about 3 weeks or so of endless agonizing, nail biting anxiety, the tests came back in with good news. Dreamweaver certainly has the chronic quality of life issues, but her liver and other concerns, with some small abnormalities, fall within the range of normal and no major damage at this point in her life. The relief was almost as stunning and hard to wrap our brains around as the possibility of major moral damage and threat. And left us washed up, after much rejoicing, thanksgiving and relief, on the odd shores of "NOW what do we do?!?!?" 

What can we do? There is no real cure for this stuff - there is a treatment - hideously expensive treatment that can put it in remission, that you aren't eligible for unless you are in a last ditch tail end situation, and the treatment is almost as bad as the illness in terms of side effects and dangers. So that's out, she's no where near in bad enough shape to justify that, we have no insurance and frankly, the treatments as scary as the Hepatitis is. We have found that there are things we can do in terms of diet that can help - which we ironically had already instituted unknowing, when months ago, we changed how we were eating and got off the fast food, etc. Thank goodness for that! 

And it has helped to put a name to it, a face. We know now that there is a real Problem. That the fatigue and nausea, and irritability and exhaustion, and insomnia and depression all have a very real medical reason. Its no longer some unexplainable shadow we could not understand. And that has given us the ability to cope, better. We try to protect Dreamweaver's times to rest, we can now say to friends, sorry, there's a real reason, we, or she's not going to make it to whatever's going on. If we do decide to do something, we make sure there is rest and recovery time. When she struggles with depression and irritability, we now know WHY some of it is occurring, and can cope with it, lessen it, do things that ease it. Its still not easy. We're still only just beginning to figure out how to live with this, how to cope, how to rise above it, in real and meaningful ways. 

We have our goals, and a future in mind, a home someday in the Pacific Northwest, with perhaps an orchard and chickens and goats - making our own goat's cheese and harvesting apples and pecans. That dream more than ever now is not on hold - we are organizing and working towards it with all our dreams and talents, and vision. We have been brushed by a shadow...and it is the shadow that comes to all, who dare to love what death can touch. We managed to move forward, and despite complications and quality of life issues, we intend to LIVE! 

And I love her more now than ever before, seeing her strength and courage as she gets up everyday in the face of this. I do everything I can think of to help her, to ease her, to carry as much of the load as I can (which is not near as much as I dammit, want to, due to my own current physical limitations!). She is my heart, and I treasure every moment with her, every heart beat, every breathe we take together in this life. And I always have, and I always will. 

So that was one of the main things that knocked me off my balance at the beginning of the year...and for me has been perhaps the biggest, scariest one. And it was hard to try to sit down and even begin to write about it, it was too close, too big, too scary while it was going on. For awhile there, there were no handles to grab to get a grip and try to process it, to find the brakes on it...and my blog fell silent. 

Just in time for the next crisis in that list at the beginning of this blog post to hit. And the next...and the next. 

I think you can see why I've been away for a bit. 

Its good to be back. 

I'll write some more tomorrow. 

Blessed Be! 













Saturday, February 4, 2012

Update - The Georgia Case and the Judge's Ruling...

In my last post, I vented - rather a lot, at length and probably over much about Orly and her attempt to have Obama declared ineligible to run on the ballot in GA.
I was very steamed over the fact that this made it as far as it did in the court and in the end, the judge did rule that Obama was indeed *oh duh* a United State's citizen and threw out their case. I totally wish that he had not let it go even that far. It gave a sense of "legitimacy" by allowing them to subpoena the President.

There is no question that the President - ANY President - of any party at any point in America's history or future has been and should be subject to the same laws that govern us all. However, subpoenaing a President for crack pot theories, nuisance suits and political machinations is NOT something that any President can allow to occur. Responding in any other way than how the lawyer representing Obama in this case did - a letter stating their position, and that this was the extant of their response - would open up  a legal can of worms. Anyone in the highest office in the land would be constantly tied up in courts and suits rather than governing and doing their job. And anybody who had a crack pot case such as this, or who saw the ability to manipulate the system by tying up the President in constant court battles would not hesitate to do so.

Obama is not a perfect, nor is he the Anti-Christ. He has done things I do not agree with. He has also accomplished much in office that is good. There have certainly been worse Presidents. But we need to remember, that however we may feel about our Presidents, the proper place to express our opinions is the voting booth. Respect is owed the office irregardless of who sits in the chair. I'm not always able to maintain this attitude myself - but it is what I believe and I do try to let my actions express this.

Hopefully this will help establish precedence and prevent any further attempts by "Birthers" to continue to pursue this particular lunacy in legitimate courts.

Nah...what am I thinking?
Its a crazy world out there.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Channeling Mo - *Or my "I have finally lost it!" political rant!

All right. For a blog with so much activism going on in it, I rarely really crank up with a political rant or post. Tonight, however...
Meet Mo - pictured here to my left. Mo is the central character in a cartoon series by Alison Bechdel, graphic comic artist and author of the comic series Dykes to Watch Out For (which maybe found here in her Archives. Shameless plug aside ( I really, really LOVE Alison's work, seriously) her character Mo has this habit of going off on political rants in fury at the stupidity of the establishment. And I have been channeling Mo since last night. Settle in for a long post - with fireworks - that goes down several different but inter-connecting paths. Go get your popcorn.
It all started when we were listening to Dreamweaver's favorite alternative radio program Phoenix Rising and he brought up whats going on in the Georgia court system right now. Basically, there have been several attempts via the court system to establish that Barrack Obama is not eligible for re-election for President and to therefore exclude him from the ballot.

(Now. Caveats. Before I go another step with this post. Obama is not perfect. Neither is he Satan incarnate. This is not a blog post about Obama. This is a blog post about some frighteningly scary ignorant politcal maneuvering by persons or people that I am going to *TRY* my best not to use foul language about in the course of this post. I cannot promise to succeed. I have no problems with you, gentle reader if you are not for Obama. But seriously - whats going on here folks is insane. Be forewarned. I will seriously police comments on this post, something I have never done before. All honest opinion welcome, even if it differs from mine. If you're trolling, your comment will be removed - as in take off and nuke it from orbit removed - its the only way to be sure. We now return you to this post. I really am in a mood. Sorry folks.)

So, when I heard about this court case, I went and looked it up, wondering by what technicality they thought they had grounds for this case. OK, yes, I am naive. I'm cute, but naive. In the extreme. Remember - well, its never gone away, but - remember the whole "Birther" movement, wherein President Obama's birth certificate and citizenship came into question?
During the Democratic Party's 2008 presidential primaries, anonymous e-mails from supporters of Hillary Clinton surfaced that questioned Obama's citizenship in an attempt to revive Clinton's faltering primary election campaign. These and numerous other chain e-mails during the subsequent presidential election circulated false rumors about Obama's origin, religion and birth certificate.
Jim Geraghty of the conservative website National Review Online may have sparked further speculation on June 9, 2008, when he asked that Obama release his birth certificate. Geraghty wrote that releasing his birth certificate could debunk several false rumors circulating on the Internet, namely: that his middle name was originally Muhammad rather than Hussein; that his mother had originally named him "Barry" rather than "Barack"; and that Barack Obama, Sr. was not his biological father, as well as the rumor that Barack Obama was not a natural-born citizen.
In October 2009, anonymous e-mails circulated claiming that the Associated Press (AP) had reported Obama was "Kenyan-Born". The claims were based on an AP story that had appeared 5 years earlier in a Kenyan publication, The Standard. The rumor-checking website Snopes.com found that the headline and lead-in sentence describing Obama as born in Kenya and misspelling his first name had been added by the Kenyan newspaper; and did not appear in the story issued by the AP or in any other contemporary newspaper that picked up the AP story. And so the snowball rolled until it became an avalanche of rumor, counter rumor, debunking sites, "Birther" sites ("Birther" being the term for those who believe that President Obama was not born in the United States.) and endless conjecture.

Now, we - Dreamweaver and I have done some serious research on this. Every single rumor, photo-shopped foreign "birth certificate", fake news story and claim has been debunked. Over. And over. And over. And still the Birther movement will not die. Its worse than trying to stake vampires! This by the way affects me personally - my beloved Father, whom I have such a loving but tangled relationship with is a Birther. He loathes Obama and believes every negative rumor ever put out there. So this hits me very personally. My dad and I are at the point where we are very careful to talk about the weather and neutral subjects. Or at least I am, and try very hard to keep him off politics. Even he has been proceeding more gently with me on it. I think he knows on a certain level how painful it is for me to hear all this coming out of him, even if he doesn't understand why. And given how hard headed he is, that's saying something!

Scanned image of Barack Obama's
birth certificate released by
his presidential campaign in June 2008.
What this all leads up to is...when I checked on the news story about the court case in Georgia subpoenaing Obama regarding possible ineligibility, I - naively - was looking for something new, given that the Birther   stuff has been so incredibly discredited. I mean - President Obama released his birth certificate on June 12, 2008, responding to the rumors by posting  an image of Obama's birth certificate. As if it hadn't already been settled at the very beginning before any of this started by the rigorous back ground checks that occur when one seeks the office of President. Gah! So...what do I find when I go to check on the Georgia court case????

Oh yes...the Birthers are at it again. Did I mention I am naive? My jaw dropped. Here's the story -  a Georgia resident made the complaint, which is intended to keep Obama’s name off the state’s ballot in the March presidential primary. The reason - oh yes - the tired old thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory of President Obama not being a US citizen.  The kicker is the lawyer they retained to represent them...Orly Taitz. Oh. My. God. Orly Taitz is a Moldavian emigrant to the US who became a naturalized citizen in 1992. She has a law degree from Taft, and was admitted to practice law in California in December 2002. She also speaks five languages: English, Hebrew, Romanian, Russian and Spanish, as well has having a dental practice. So she obviously is intelligent. She also claims that she lost relatives in the Holocaust and that her grandmother witnessed the Kishinev pogrom.

None of which prevents her from being, insofar as I can tell, crazier than a bedbug, evidently.

Along with spear heading and leading the Birther movement, and claiming that President Obama is not a US citizen and a Radical Muslim (which is he is not - he is a Christian, albeit progressive and pluralist) she also claims such things as a number of homosexuals from Obama's former church have died mysteriously (which has what to do with what???), that a person who was cooperating with the FBI in connection with Obama's passport died mysteriously, "shot in the head" (didn't happen); that a Kenyan birth certificate with the name "Barack Obama" is authentic (and we're coming back to that one, in a moment folks!), that her life and
Orly Taitz
property has been threatened and vandalized by the government, that internment and labor camps are being built for "anti-Obama Dissidents" - they're not - and that Osama bin Laden was killed years ago, with his body kept on ice, and the announcement of his death was timed to divert attention from an upcoming court case she is litigating challenging Obama's citizenship - oh my aching head. Really? Seriously? She also has other theories such as a strain of bird flu deliberately developed to kill people, PayPal attacks, the deletion of her Wikipedia entry (which was right there when I went to look for it) , and Google's flagging her webpage as an attack site and suppressing search results for her name - which is a joke because she's all over the damn internet in all directions...as in, oh, about 713,000 results when I last checked. Its called a persecution complex at the least. And by all means - go look at her suppressed, flagged, non-existent Website, please. 

Anyway, she's the lawyer representing the case in Georgia. She's already tried this in Alabama, New Hampshire - both of which were thrown out by the way - as well as litigation for military personal who challenged orders implementing his voluntary deployment to Afghanistan because of his claim that Obama is not a legitimate president and thereby could not order his deployment. She has numerous other cases - all of which have been dismissed and thrown out, and she has been sanctioned and fined 20,000.00 dollars for for deliberate misconduct in court. 
Now, remember the "Kenyan Birth Certificate" I said we'd get back to? Here's the icing on the cake. In 2009 Orly presented a photograph of Barrack Obama's Kenyan Birth Certificate.

 

This turned out to be a proven forgery of an Australian man's certificate of birth posted on an ancestry research site that was lifted and photo-shopped. It had so many glaring errors on it that it boggles the mind that anyone could take it seriously or think they could prove it genuine - errors such as incorrect ages, questionable birth locale, and unbelievably and most glaringly, the use of the term "Republic of Kenya", when actually at the alleged date of issue on this document, it was actually known as the "Dominion of Kenya" on official documents. Orly Taitz is too smart - one would think - to weaken her position as champion of the Birthers by attempting to present such a weak forgery, particularly when a few minutes of research would have turned up the discrepancies before attempting to go public with it. Evidently intelligence was not enough to prevent out right idiocy on this one. 

Now, having pretty much - I sincerely hope - proven my point on Ms. Taitz, which is that she's approaching delusional in this mess and should not be taken seriously....

Here's where my jaw hit the floor last night and put me into a serious rage. So, we were listening to the radio show last night, found out that Orly Taitz is at it again in Georgia...attempting to legally keep President Obama off the ballot for re-election, and attempts to subpoena him...AND THE JUDGE UPHELD THE SUBPOENA AND ENFORCED IT. 
A lawyer representing President Obama's interests submitted a letter - they probably have a form letter file a mile long by now to deal with Orly - stating that Obama's legitimacy has been clearly proven legally at the highest level, and they would not be responding to this nuisance case, etc. And the Judge upheld the subpoena ruling anyway and filed for Taitz and crew! 

What. The. Hell?!?!

Phoenix, our radio dude went on to point out to his listeners that this could seriously become major trouble, because just as obviously as the President cannot respond to nuisance lawsuits, particularly ones that have about as much legal precedence as a snowball in hell, if the judge upheld the plaintiffs side, it becomes a Civil Rights/States Rights issue and the rallying cry from that could become very ugly indeed. At the very least, if it truly carried all the way through, it would set a precedence of excluding President Obama from the ballot which would spread from state to state in the Deep South and that could result in the government stepping in, civil unrest and possible riot and mayhem. 

Pepper spray during Occupy Protest
Still with me here? Because we're about to take another turn down how my night went last night. Having heard the above, I became sincerely upset. Um...actually, in a furious rage to be honest. How dare such idiots play this kind of game with political due process in such a serious situation! You think I'm exaggerating? You think Phoenix is exaggerating? Remember, we've just seen the Occupy Movement get gassed, discredited and smashed into the bedrock by what amounts to brownshirt goons - you really think this could be an exaggeration? Let me go one step further. 

I was very upset last night about this whole thing. Sleep kind of went out the window, and I was sort of compulsively patrolling the internet chasing random searches on all this mess. So having thought about the States Rights thing, and gone chasing down several related posts to those things, I went and looked at THE main back history to the whole idea of States rights in America - The American Civil War of 1861–1865. Or as I grew up hearing it referred to - and I am NOT kidding - The War of Northern Aggression. 

Confederate Flag on t
he Capitol Grounds. 
I was raised in the deep South. I am by birth South Carolinian. I grew up with Rebel Battle Flags EVERYWHERE...including the one still flying on the capitol grounds today. I was taught that the Civil War was about STATES RIGHTS...that the Federal Government wanted to take away our freedoms, that slavery was not nearly as bad as it is fictionally portrayed (Really. I was taught that.), that freeing the slaves actually did them harm and that the war was never about slavery - that was just an issue introduced half way through as an emotional rallying cry. The phrase "The south will rise again" was not uncommon, Sherman's name is still hated here, and the phrase "damnyankee" was one word. And the Klu Klux Klan was just there to protect the women and children. All the classic cliches that you think could not be true about Southerners....well. They are. They were. That's what I grew up in and around the first half of my life. How in God's name I escaped being an emotionally blind bigoted bastard I will never know, but thanks be to God - and I MEAN that - somehow I did. I was taught to be proud my state fired the first shot that started the whole freaking blood bath. And it was a blood bath - that war produced about 1,030,000 casualties (3% of the population), including about 620,000 soldier deaths—two-thirds by disease. It accounted for roughly as many American deaths as all American deaths in other U.S. wars combined. Based on 1860 census figures, 8% of all white males in the United States aged 13 to 43 died in the Civil War, including 6% in the North and 18% in the South. (Don't know what the figures would be if other races and women and children were included in that.) 

Its funny how when you're sure of what you think you know, you never really dig in and look at it until something else knocks the blinders off. Now, I was already totally disgusted with the whole "slavery wasn't all that bad, and emancipation actually harmed the slaves" thing...Naive I may be - Stupid I am not. But I did believe that the Civil war was about States Rights, and the evils of the Federal Government.  Its what I was taught in school and at home and at church and rubbed off on me at social gatherings. What else was I to know, when that was all I had ever been taught. Until last night, sore and angry and worried about my country's troubles at the hands of some crack pots and conspiracy theorists, I turned and did some true unbiased digging for the first time ever about the whole States Rights "movement" that arose out of the Civil War.
Rare 1863
photograph of a slave 
Oh, yes, it was about States Rights alright. The right to own slaves and continue the furtherance of slave ownership into newly opened territories of America after slavery had already been declared illegal everywhere except the specific slave states and the actual slave trade coming over seas had been criminalized. And for THIS my ancestors rose and fought one of the bitterest, most brutal wars ever, brother against brother, that generated the hatred, prejudices and resentments that still burn today in the deep south...for the right to own and enslave their fellow human beings. And because of this cultural myth that still is alive and well today - that the Federal Government is out to "get us" Southerners - we're primed for it already. Armed conflict and rebellion is romanticized in the name of that lie still. And when this legal circus that is being driven by the Birther's disproven fraudulent claims  to exclude Obama from the Presidential ballot in the states gets tossed out and quashed like it should be...its not impossible that civil unrest and blood could erupt in the streets.

Oh yes. If this Birther movement to exclude Obama from the ballot continues, with the Occupy debacle behind us - and the Occupy movement will be cranking back up when warm weather gets here, is my bet - it could well explode. I am not being paranoid. You saw the news this summer with the Occupiers being beaten, dragged off, pepper sprayed and gassed. We're poised over the edge. And the Deep South is where this will erupt if it does and we're living smack in the middle of it. God help us.

I guess the final reason for my severe rage was that every single conspiracy theory, crack pot claim, and bitter foul lie about President Obama that Orly Taitz is pushing or has created, I've heard from my father's lips as gospel truth. And he knows, despite my care not to start anything or even get involved in any political discussion with him, he knows that I disagree with him on this subject. And he thinks I am blind to reality and that he knows it all. It hurts. Orly Taitz's single handed insanity has brainwashed my dad into twisted knots of conspiracy theories and hatred and there is nothing I can do about it. Not one thing. I asked my dad what he thought, the day President Obama's birth certificate was released, and he said as far as he was concerned it was a fake, the man was no US citizen, but a Kenyan born Muslim who should be run out of the country and that even if he held Obama's birth certificate in his hand, he still wouldn't believe it, period. And this is why, perhaps I am so blazing mad. These lies have come close to destroying my relationship with my father, and have twisted what should be golden years for him into something filled with fear and hate because he is afraid of change and its easier to hate than think. It breaks my heart and has made me angrier than anything has in a long time. I am trying not to misuse that anger and succumb to hate myself. So I'm venting about it, and trying to wrestle with it and win through to being better than this.

Two final points. Orly Taitz is working on running for Senator for the state of California. Oh no. Hell no! Please God, no. She has to be un-electable. Unfortunately, her being born somewhere other than the USA doesn't preclude her from holding any office except the presidency. How ironic.

Secondly, today in court instead of tossing out the case in Georgia, the court stunningly refused to rule, meaning he did not toss them out on their asses - yet. Instead,they are to present their evidence, and he will make a ruling by February 5th, and where this will lead next, who knows. Hopefully he will toss it out. We'll see. I can't imagine he wouldn't. Here's hoping.

These are my honest thoughts. Perhaps venting here will give me the ability to see clearly and not be so blind furious. Perhaps the future will be better than my fears, will instead, be the future of my hopes. Such are my prayers this night.
May God give us grace. All of us.



Monday, January 16, 2012

Martin Luther King Jr. - the Force of the Soul




I Have a Dream is the 17-minute public speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered on August 28, 1963, in which he called for racial equality and an end to discrimination. The speech, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, was a defining moment of theAmerican Civil Rights Movement. Delivered to over 200,000 civil rights supporters, the speech was ranked the top American speech of the 20th century by a 1999 poll of scholars of public address. According to U.S. Representative John Lewis, who also spoke that day as the President of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, "Dr. King had the power, the ability, and the capacity to transform those steps on the Lincoln Memorial into a monumental area that will forever be recognized. By speaking the way he did, he educated, he inspired, he informed not just the people there, but people throughout America and unborn generations."

Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering "I Have a Dream"
at the 1963 Washington D.C. Civil Rights March.