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Cancer During the Trump Era

9 Oct

I was just recently diagnosed with cancer, specifically colon cancer. I am still processing what this means and how it will impact me and my family. A good bit of me says “fuck cancer,” but a large part of me is just simply terrified. As my friends and family are gathering around me to support me, they insist that”I have the strength to beat cancer,” which keeps being echoed. I’m not sure I believe this–and I have serious doubts I can beat cancer during 45’s administration. I need to let everyone know that that the artwork shown at the end of the article was done by some former students, now friends/colleagues of mine–thank you Erin and Nick. I love you both!

In the context of living in the US during 45’s reign of terror, being diagnosed with cancer is making me wonder if perhaps this is my time to go. Being barraged everyday with another assault on human rights by a narcissistic autocrat is quite wearing on one’s emotional (and obviously physical) health. The intense racism, homophobia, misogyny, and classism have been more than just revolting: they speak to the very worst in humans. I must confess, this is not the world I want to live in and the fatigue of 45 is real. I also constantly worry I do not know how to adequately take care of those whom I love and love me. I know people that love me are scared and I struggle with how to care for all of these wonderful amazing people.

While hurricane Maria wreaks havoc on Puerto Rico (an American Territory), 45 has the chutzpah to blame the country and even worse, to blame the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz. (How dare you be a strong and smart woman!) On a side note, one should mention that Trump helped to contribute to the debt of Puerto Rico when he abandoned his golf course there and left the people of Puerto Rico with the 33 million dollar debt he created. To further push his racist agenda, 45 thinks he is on a television show again and wants NFL owners to fire the black athletes who kneel in protest of the racism people of color experience daily in the United States. 45’s exact words: “Fire the Son of a Bitch”–my how presidential. It is very difficult for me not to hear this as: Hey, all you white owners, you need to tell all of these black people how lucky they have it to work on the field.

More discouraging news which does not encourage one to fight any type of cancer: Gollum, I mean AG Jeff Session just found a way to allow employers not to cover the cost of birth control for women, but will continue to cover the cost of medication for men to have an erection. This all falls in alignment with what misogynist and homophobe Mike Pence has been promising around Religious Freedom, a.k.a the justification to hate and deny people their civil rights. In an effort to spread more hate and venom, on October 6, Sessions issued a 25 page memo that outlines how all business can now legally discriminate against people in the LGBTQ community under “religious freedom,” meaning Christianity. Who would Jesus Hate? This memo supported by 45 is one of the most significant bills of hate. Of course, the insane Spin Doctor 45 responded to this proposed bill with: “his administration will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore.” Wow! I have no words on how to address this twisting of power and the ability to sustain a white supremacist, homophobic, misogynistic power structure. If you are not actively resisting this mishigas, you are NOT an ally to targeted communities. Here is where I will agree with Rex Tillerson: “Trump is a fucking moron.” I have to also agree with GOP Bob Corker referring to the  “Whitehouse as an adult day care center.” Wow! I just agreed with two Republicans.

Yes, as you can see, there is not a great deal of motivation to fight cancer given the overwhelming amount of power that normalizes HATE, normalizes homophobia, normalizes racism, normalizes misogyny, and vilifies any type of journalism that tries to hold 45 and his white robed cabinet accountable. It’s so hard to believe that all of this has happened in just one week, the week since I received my diagnosis.

And yet! And yet I am going to fight in ways that people better be scared of me! I am 50 years old and I don’t believe I have said “Fuck You” to enough people. I have not shown enough active resistance to tyranny. Now is my time. I shall call this cancer “45,” and I shall fight it until I kick its ass and defeat it. My ability to defeat this cancer will signify that communities all over the country can use our power to love each other and embolden targeted communities–we can tap into our shared humanity and refuse to live in fear. “I ain’t dead yet.” Stay tuned!

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Trump Pardons Martin Shkreli: Shkreli to Head Department of Health and Human Services

18 Sep

I have conflicted feelings regarding the seemingly united sense of schadenfreude that Shkreli is doing jail time for his sociopathic behavior. In the wake of the Presidential pardon of the law-breaking racist Joe Arpaio, it does not seem like that big of a leap for 45 to pardon Shkreli and then appoint him as the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, given the composition of the rest of the appointments — Betsy DeVos, Rick Perry, Ben Carson, Scott Pruitt, Jeff Session and the rest of the Basket of Deplorables. The common denominator for all of his appointments is racism, homophobia, and misogyny.

Action we can take now is to keep trying to contact your senators and representatives and start looking at the 2018 midterm elections.

A Nation In Jeopardy

25 Aug

My husband and I just returned from Iceland — what a sad return. While away from the United States, we tried to be unplugged regarding the ever hastening downward spiral of the American government under Trump. Sadly, we could not escape, as the whole world is watching this “reality show” — this buffoonery. What is profoundly sad is that it is not a reality show. Our journey to another country, visiting with some really lovely people from around the world, only confirmed what I already knew. We are now being led by a fascist government that denies climate change and dismantles every agency created to aid people living in this country — which is further normalizing homophobia, misogyny, transphobia, anti-Semitism, and racism. We are a nation in jeopardy and the whole world is watching our decline.

The first week away we learned that Trump was threatening North Korea. His threats were so scary that the quite undignified Rex Tillerson had to make public statements to assure people not to panic, which was met by Trump declaring his threats “did not go far enough.” A few days later Trump’s defense of Nazis on August 12 and the refusal of nefarious sycophant Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell to censure the President provide a very clear indication that the government of the United States certainly holds a Nazi/White Supremacist world view. I feel the need to note here that the United Nations officially condemned Trump’s response to the white terrorism in Charlottesville.

Trump’s white supremacist defense did not go unnoticed by the global community we were traveling with in Iceland. One of our tour guides, a native Icelander, talked with us over lunch. He casually said: “It seems like your country has some real problems with racism and gay people.” All we could say was, “Yes, yes we do.” I know my face was one of despair and I was grateful that Hilmar felt comfortable talking about politics with us. This government has turned all rational U.S. citizens into ambassadors for the best of our country.

One of the families we were traveling with, and became friends with, was a family from Washington, DC, who came to the U.S. from southeast Asia. Their son attends Virginia Tech. They told us stories of how their son has been repeatedly harassed by police because of the color of his skin. Those personal stories painfully echoed the news from Charlottesville.

It has been particularly alarming to see the Nazi swastikas appearing all over the nation. Trump has blamed the media — his “fake news” — for dividing the nation. I fear I have lost all respect for anyone who believes this horrific lie. Sadly, regardless of how many lies Trump delivers, his base of support will not be swayed. Even more disturbing is that the beliefs held by Nazis are being subscribed to by an increasing population in the United States: it is about to reach double digits.

As if to bring all of this home to us, upon returning to the United States we were met with great hostility and homophobia as we tried to go through Customs. There are signs that let people know you are to go through Customs as a family. My husband and I approached the agent as a family. US Customs Agent Lee looked at us with a look on his face as though he just smelled something painfully acrid. (I imagine he caught a whiff of his own noxious odor.) After a few minutes of silence and us just standing there, Customs Agent Lee (yes, I am using his real last name) pointed a finger at us and said: “So the two of you men live together?” At this point, I had to try very hard not to lose my temper and call this homophobic piece of hell out.

I was painfully aware that he had great power and could refuse our re-entry into the United States, so I kept silent and just affirmed that yes, my husband and I live together. All I could think about was: “Well, we are certainly living in Trump’s America.  Surely, we must be better than this?” My husband and I are U.S. citizens, returning from a vacation. Imagine how people like Agent Lee abuse their power to oppress and reject immigrants, refugees, and other targeted communities!

Sadly, the hits keep coming. Trump’s latest Klan rally in Phoenix included more threats to muzzle the free press. He defended career racist and convicted racial profiler Joe Arpaio, hinting that he would pardon him. He demands that Congress fund his racist boondoggle of a wall, threatening to shut down the whole government if he doesn’t get his way. And still Congressional leaders support him. Paul Ryan refuses to censure Trump’s nasty words in the name of “unity” — this from a man who promised four years of pointless investigations if he had to serve under President Hillary Clinton. For all that the press love to talk about the war between Trump and McConnell, Sen. Turtle continues to make mealy-mouthed assurances about a “shared agenda.” How nice that he wants to share an agenda of hate.

This strife resonates with me every day. I am the Executive Director of EqualityWorks, NW, an agency that works towards global equity for targeted communities. Never have I seen the need for the work I do to be so vital and intense. As the director, I want to invite people struggling to take action and resist this administration and to reflect on how power works, specifically white,male, heteronormative, “Christian”, patriarchal power. Take action and create space for the voices of targeted communities.

I also want to emphatically disavow the hate and venom being spewed by Trump, Pence, Ryan, McConnell, Sessions, and all of those refusing to put this administration in check. I invite us all to resist and to also try to tap into our shared humanity, albeit our shared humanity does not appear very humane at present.

45 Fatigue: The Struggle Is Real

30 Jul

Somehow I thought for sure this alone would have prevented 45 from moving forward, that his mocking a person with a disability would have been enough. Then I thought his bragging about “grabbing a woman by the pussy” would have been enough to stop him. Sadly, this is who we are stuck with currently and who is destroying Democracy on a daily basis. I do wonder how on earth are people able to live with themselves for voting for such a monster.

As I mentioned in my last article, I believe most of the nation is currently experiencing some serious 45 Fatigue — most of us in the nation are currently on edge, pugnacious, unsettled, anxious, depressed, angry, or any combination of the above. And it is not just those of us who identify as progressives who are feeling the pain. I am experiencing people all over the political spectrum who are struggling — as Ru Paul’s Kennedy Davenport said: “The struggle is real.”

I have some friends/family in Georgia who have been lifelong Republicans who are feeling the pain and disappointment. I suspect many Republicans are in mourning, for they are now realizing the party they believed in has been obliterated by 45, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell.

One can’t even keep up with the daily barrage of bizarre goings on and the continued human rights violations that we are kept abreast of via Twitter, because that is now the way the President of the United States communicates with us. First, 45 and his administration came for our Muslim friends and family, then they came for the Latino community, then 45 came after the journalists, and scientists, then he came after the poor and tried to strip away health care for millions, then he came after all of us in the LGBT community. I hardly know how to cope. What’s more, I have daily reminders that my family members who supported and still support 45 are responsible for this destruction.

Apparently, there is and will always be approximately 25% of the population that will always support 45 regardles. This population is implacable and also sadly misinformed and guided by fear, racism, misogyny, and homophobia.  Sadly, 45 and his followers have only proven they are, in fact, deplorable. Of course, this hurts my heart more than I can express. It hurts my heart that the behavior we witness daily could be acceptable to anyone. 45’s appointment of Scaramucci is nothing less than appalling and only helps to normalize a vulgar society. I’m sure Scaramucci is only too happy to be 45’s work wife, or is he the Mini-Me for 45?

As I said, I can’t even recount all of what has happened in just the past week. Do I start with his inappropriate behavior with his speech to the Boy Scouts, whom he apparently thought were his Trumpenjugend? Do I address the transphobia? Do I focus on his encouraging police to increase brutality? How about bullying his loyal attack dog, Jeff Sessions or firing Reince Priebus? Blindsiding military commanders in hateful tweets that led them to believe we might be headed for war? I am having difficulty coping, as I know the rest of the 75% of the nation is right now. It is clear Scaramucci is an echo chamber for 45 and is helping to normalize vulgarity, as though this were some how Presidential? Yes, national television and radio are broadcasting Scaramucci’s speeches: “What I want to do is fucking kill all of the leakers…I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock.”  This from the new Director of Communications, sanctioned by 45. Wow! I have no words.

What is helping me endure this nightmare is watching television shows like: The Good Fight, Daytime Divas, Ru Paul’s Dragrace, and Samantha Bee. What are you doing to cope? How can we support each other? How can we be loving of ourselves, and of each other? I am going to work hard to invite joy into my life. I hope all of you find ways of creating and sustaining joy. Peace, Michael.

Difficulty Feeling Bad For John McCain: The Point Of No Return

26 Jul

Yesterday marks a very sad day in the history of the United States, albeit we have had too many sad days since 45 was elected. Yesterday was particularly unconscionable, in that we witnessed 50 senators and the Vice President actively taking steps to take away health insurance for millions of Americans — a new low, even for the GOP. Yes, the Republicans are moving forward on Trumpcare when it does not even exist yet.

Another exceedingly problematic part to this equation is that Senator John McCain (who has been on the wrong side of history for at least the past two decades) showed up to Washington, DC only to vote the wrong way. The irony is more than just heavy, given his recent diagnosis of a brain tumor while he has the best healthcare plan possible in this country, paid by taxpayer dollars. Yes, while McCain and all of Congress don’t have to worry about healthcare, Mr. Maverick voted to take away health insurance for over 20 million Americans. I am having a very difficult time trying to have compassion for the homophobic, misogynistic, racist, John McCain. While he frothed at the mouth about how ridiculous this whole process has been, he nevertheless decided to participate and is part of the ridiculousness and he is a part of the problem. I’m quite nonplussed as to how this is “Making America Great Again,” a quote by 45 that has always felt like coded racist language to me, for “Making America White Again.” McCain’s hypocrisy is emblematic of the hypocrisy that is the Republican party.

It has been difficult to keep up with the blog in the past six months, as I find it more than a little bit depressing to keep up with how destructive 45 and this administration have been. I seem to get at least two or three new stories from the New York Times every day about how 45 has embarrassed the nation yet again. For those that are holding hope that he will be impeached, it is not going to happen, as much as I would love to get rid of this entire administration. The sociopathic duo known as Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are not going to bring 45 up for impeachment. Let us instead take action and prepare for the 2018 midterm election.

For those experiencing great 45 Fatigue ( a new diagnosis that I am introducing and should be in the DSM), I would offer this: finds ways of taking care. For me, I have to cut off any news after an hour. I am also watching a lot of good television. I highly recommend watching Daytime Divas with Vanessa Williams and Tichina Arnold.

Updated July 28, 2017

While McCain eventually voted the right way, why did he not vote earlier NOT to proceed? Why participate in the drama and waste of tax dollars? I also feel the need to underscore that McCain is NOT a hero here. In fact, I want to applaud Senator Lisa Murkowski, rare that I applaud a Republican. Murkowski was threatened by 45 and his administration and she refused the bribes from McConnell.

When Will Integrity Become Fashionable Again?

5 Jun

The GOP On The Wrong Side of History

The past 134 days, 10 hours, and 8 minutes have been far more excruciating than I would have ever thought. 45 has managed to encourage and  celebrate racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, and misogyny in unprecedented ways. We seem to wake up everyday to discover yet another way in which 45 has trashed the Constitution of the United States and found ways to install himself as dictator.  According to NBC News, CBS News, Slate.com, and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s collected data, Hate Crimes have risen exponentially — specifically crimes against the LGBT community, Jews, women, people of color, and Muslims.

Here in Portland, Oregon the White Supremacist group/pro-Trump rally will march on Sunday, in the wake of the murders of Ricky Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche. These murders were committed by White Supremacist, Jeremy Joseph Christian. Sadly, despite the efforts of Mayor Ted Wheeler to ask the group not to march on Sunday, the response was: “if you don’t let us march, we can’t guarantee there won’t be violence.”

Violence seems to be the language of the Republican party today. The GOP encourage it, reward it, and celebrate it. We have no further to look at last week’s debacle with Greg Gianforte. Gianforte was approached by a journalist from the Guardian, Ben Jacobs. After Jacobs asked a question about healthcare, the multi-millionaire Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands, body slammed him, and threw him to the ground breaking his glasses. Sadly and disgustingly, the GOP rallied around the millionaire and vilified the journalist. It does not take much to connect the dots here.

When the President of the United States vilifies the free press by declaring that “the free press is the enemy of the state,” it is not a surprise that Gianforte and the other GOP bullies feel emboldened to become physically violent. I thought people who are leaders and in positions of power were supposed to model how to be in community and how to use our words. Rather, what is being modeled is physical violence and an inability to be honest and honor the First Amendment. Maybe it is just me, but I don’t believe Gianforte should be allowed to hold public office.  Lest we forget another obnoxious example of Republican violence against the press: New York Republican Michael Grimm. Grimm threatened a reporter and said: “Let me be clear to you. If you ever do that to me again I will throw you off this fucking balcony.”  Sorry, that just does not seem like leadership qualities to me. Fortunately, Grimm is now in prison — not for assault against people in the press, but for the breaking of tax laws. Speaking of which, where are 45’s tax returns? Oh, right. We have not seen them.

The bigger picture for me and what I find most profoundly disturbing, is there does not seem to be one member in the Republican party who has just a shred of integrity or human decency. There is no one willing to come forward and call out bad, illegal, and unethical behavior.  Unlike Watergate, there is no one willing to stand up to 45. Where is our John Dean? 45 continues to lie to the American people and to the press and not one Republican officeholder finds this problematic. The new Trumpcare health plan will deny 23 million people access to health care, including me and my family, and Ayn Rand’s response, oops, I mean Paul Ryan’s response was: (my computer always does auto-correct from Paul Ryan to Ayn Rand) “We are keeping our promise.” It is very difficult not to hear the racism here as, “We promise to undo everything that black man did.”

Sadly, every day just seems to get worse and worse. I wake up each morning waiting  to learn what human rights will this administration violate, what more supports will be put in place that dismantle democracy and firmly establish an authoritarian government. Is there anyone who can put this man and his administration in check? I grow exhausted with the tagline being pushed over at Fox and by 45’s team that he is “working for America.”  What America are y’all talking about? I, too, live in America, as does my husband, my black friends and family members, my queer Muslim family members, my Latino friends and family. 45 is not working to help us!

The one place where 45 told the truth was when he declared “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and not lose any voters.”  Apparently, that has now turned out to be true. I am more than just a little sad about what this says about our country. Trump is not just shooting somebody, he is hurting over two thirds of the population of the United States, not to mention all of the people on the earth he is harming because of his delusional beliefs around climate change. Where are the GOP voices that will shout out “Enough!”? There must be one of you that has a modicum of integrity.

I can only hope that “Covfefe” means Impeachment.

The Return of Concentration Camps for Gays

17 Apr

It is with great sorrow and disgust that I share this news story. I write it because we must take action and because the world needs to know what is happening right now. We seem to be intentionally ignoring the lessons we should have learned from WWII.  Currently, the Russian republic of Chechnya is rounding up men who are gay or perceived to be gay and putting them into concentration camps where they are being tortured, beaten, their hands electrocuted, and being forced to sit on bottles. At present, we know that at least three men have been murdered according to the  independent newspaper, Novaya Gazeta.  Of course, Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov denies these claims saying that Chechnya has no homosexuals and reported: “You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic.”

Sadly, Russia has a long established history of homophobia and anti-semitism. What is more disturbing is that our own government in the United States seems to be creating a parallel structure of hate, homophobia, racism, anti-semitism, and misogyny. The anti-semitism coming from 45 and his minions like Sean Spicer is not only embarrassing, but it is exceedingly dangerous! Since 45 became President (thanks to a lot of help from Russia) right wing racist and homophobic Christians have become emboldened to the point that they are now taking our country hostage and eradicating our democracy and replacing it with a KKKristian theocracy.

For example, the trans bathroom rights established by President Obama have now been repealed, putting trans-identified and gender non-conforming people in danger. HB24 just passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee in Alabama, thus paving the way to make it legal to discriminate against LGBT homes and deny them the ability to adopt or take in kids in the foster system. Of course, this all fits into Vice President Mike Pence’s agenda of establishing a national “Religious Freedom” law, which would allow for his perverted idea of Christianity to rule the nation and to discriminate against the LGBT community. Ultimately, this would mean gay/queer people must worry they will be denied services, denied housing, denied medical care. Yes, this is where we are now as a nation.

Take Action: We must stand in solidarity with each other and we must enlist the help and support of allies. We must make it known around the world that what is happening in the Russian republic of Chechnya is unacceptable. We must resist 45 and his homophobic administration at all costs! If you consider yourself an ally to the LGBTQ community, now is the time to make your voice heard.

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