Tag Archives: breast cancer

Happy Birthday, Olivia Newton John

26 Sep
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Today is Olivia Newton John’s 67th birthday!  I want to say Happy Birthday and I would like to celebrate a woman whose music has brought me endless joy and whose dedication to social justice inspires me. Olivia Newton-John was born in Cambridge, England in 1948. Her father was a Welsh-born professor and her mother a German Jew whose family fled Germany as the Nazis came to power. (Her mother’s father was Nobel-winning physicist Max Born.) The family moved to Melbourne, Australia when Olivia was six, and it is that country that she considers her home.

A talented singer, she began performing in her teens and took part in a number of Australian TV programs. She met future collaborator and producer John Farrar, who encouraged her to take part in a contest on Sing Sing Sing. She won a trip to England, initially planning to stay for a year to explore the country and her career. She built up slow, steady momentum and released her first album in 1971.

That launched real international success, including an invitation to perform the U.K. entry in the 1974 Eurovision contest. (She came in 4th; the winner that year was Sweden, with ABBA’s Waterloo.) She was still struggling to get a foothold in the U.S., but won a Grammy for best Country Female Performance. That award raised anger in Country purist circles, in part because she was still based in England. (The ever-wonderful Dolly Parton, however, supported her.) Taking advice from fellow Aussie Helen Reddy, Olivia moved to the U.S. In short order she launched a massively successful career.

I remember getting beaten up in the bathroom when I was a little kid at summer camp.  I was singing You’re the One That I Want from Grease, when a couple of bullies came in and beat the tar out of me.  How I hated those kids and how I loved Olivia and how did I not know I was gay back in the 7th grade?  Of course, even today I sing to Xanadu and all of the classic Olivia songs.  There is another song that holds a very special place in my heart, Tutta La Vita.  This song came out when my friend Kent was sick in the hospital and I loved this song for both the lyrics and for the music.  Sadly, my friend Kent passed away from HIV, but I think about him when I hear this song.  How wonderful that our Olivia stands in solidarity with the LGBT community.

Besides her beautiful music, Olivia has been a tireless advocate for many causes. She is an outspoken environmentalist and animal rights advocate. (She has cancelled Japanese tours over the slaughter of dolphins in tuna nets.) A breast cancer survivor, she also devotes a great deal of energy to cancer education, diagnosis, research, and treatment. She has also worked closely with UNICEF and been an advocate for LGBT rights.

A great singer, actress, activist, and all-around decent human being, I love our Olivia! (And who can forget her amazing performance in Sordid Lives?) Thank you for bringing your joy and passion into so many lives.

Women’s History Month 2013: Olivia Newton-John

8 Mar

5923_31Today I would like to celebrate a woman whose music has brought me endless joy and whose dedication to social justice inspires me. Olivia Newton-John was born in Cambridge, England in 1948. Her father was a Welsh-born professor and her mother a German Jew whose family fled Germany as the Nazis came to power. (Her mother’s father was Nobel-winning physicist Max Born.) The family moved to Melbourne, Australia when Olivia was six, and it is that country that she considers her home.

A talented singer, she began performing in her teens and took part in a number of Australian TV programs. She met future collaborator and producer John Farrar, who encouraged her to take part in a contest on Sing Sing Sing. She won a trip to England, initially planning to stay for a year to explore the country and her career. She built up slow, steady momentum and released her first album in 1971.

That launched real international success, including an invitation to perform the U.K. entry in the 1974 Eurovision contest. (She came in 4th; the winner that year was Sweden, with ABBA’s Waterloo.) She was still struggling to get a foothold in the U.S., but won a Grammy for best Country Female Performance. That award raised anger in Country purist circles, in part because she was still based in England. (The ever-wonderful Dolly Parton, however, supported her.) Taking advice from fellow Aussie Helen Reddy, Olivia moved to the U.S. In short order she launched a massively successful career.

I remember getting beaten up in the bathroom when I was a little kid at summer camp.  I was singing You’re the One That I Want from Grease, when a couple of bullies came in and beat the tar out of me.  How I hated those kids and how I loved Olivia and how did I not know I was gay back in the 7th grade?  Of course, even today I sing to Xanadu and all of the classic Olivia songs.  There is another song that holds a very special place in my heart, Tutta La Vita.  This song came out when my friend Kent was sick in the hospital and I loved this song for both the lyrics and for the music.  Sadly, my friend Kent passed away from HIV, but I think about him when I hear this song.  How wonderful that our Olivia stands in solidarity with the LGBT community.

Besides her beautiful music, Olivia has been a tireless advocate for many causes. She is an outspoken environmentalist and animal rights advocate. (She has cancelled Japanese tours over the slaughter of dolphins in tuna nets.) A breast cancer survivor, she also devotes a great deal of energy to cancer education, diagnosis, research, and treatment. She has also worked closely with UNICEF and been an advocate for LGBT rights.

A great singer, actress, activist, and all-around decent human being, I love our Olivia! (And who can forget her amazing performance in Sordid Lives?) Thank you for bringing your joy and passion into so many lives.

Meet Linda: Breast Cancer/Politics and More on Komen Foundation

5 Feb

Hear Linda's Story

Wow!  Meet Linda, a breast cancer survivor.  Her story must be heard and please share her story!  Linda pulls no punches in her candid conversation about her own cancer and about the Susan G. Komen Foundation.  A very dear friend of mine, actually she is my family, Cheryl Fairchild survived breast cancer and maybe that is why I can’t stop writing about my disappointment with the Susan G. Komen Foundation.  Please watch Linda’s video and share this post!  I hope we will keep the focus on finding a cure and on prevention, rather than politics.  Sadly, the Komen Foundation is far more concerned with politics.

The Puppet Master Behind the Susan G.Komen Foundation

4 Feb

I love a Tea Party but hate women and gays!

Corrupt Komen Caves, Kind of!  Yes, yesterday the Susan G. Komen Foundation offered a less than milquetoast apology for their bad behavior.  The apology came not because it was the right thing to do, or because of some great care and compassion for women of color, women without means, and all women who suffer from the intersections of oppression, rather the apology came because of political pressure.  I don’t want to dismiss the power of this pressure, but I would like us to examine closely the Power behind the Komen Foundation, for I personally would like to see this organization crash and burn and be replaced with a more inclusive organization that truly reaches out to all women to help prevent breast cancer.

Just to be clear, the Komen Foundation is still refusing to commit to future grants to Planned Parenthood.  So who has the power and what does this power look like at the Komen Foundation? Sadly, Komen’s Senior VP is  Karen Handel.  You may remember Handel.  She ran for Governor of Georgia two years ago and was endorsed by the Tea Party, including Sarah Palin.  Yes, our Handel is exceedingly anti-woman and is a homophobic bigot, as witnessed by her own words!

I will conclude by saying that if you truly believe in women’s rights and you believe women should have access to health care regardless of color or access to resources and if you really believe in social justice, you will boycott the Susan G. Komen Foundation and put your money into Planned Parenthood.

I need to say a special thanks to my friend Jay and to the Voice of the Trailer (VOT) for helping me with this article and allowing me to express my rage in a socially productive way.

Bigot of the Week Award: February 3, Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation

3 Feb

Bigot of the Week

Thank you to the many people that helped to inspire this week’s BWA with their outrage.  A special thanks to Cecile Richards, Sara Swain, and Voice of the Trailer.

It’s always disappointing when an organization that should be seen as an ally and champion stumbles. This week’s BWA winner managed worse than that with a stumble that turns into a full-fledged fall from grace. The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation has announced that it will stop supporting lifesaving breast cancer screening for low-income and underserved women at Planned Parenthood health centers. Over the past five years, Komen funds have enabled Planned Parenthood health centers to provide nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams and referrals for more than 6,400 mammograms. Alas, who cares if poor women have breast cancer?

These cancer detection and prevention programs saved the lives of women who often had nowhere else to turn for care.  Women of color, minorities, the poor, and the transgender community depend especially heavily on services like those provided by Planned Parenthood. Komen for the Cure’s decision has a perhaps accidental but nonetheless potent impact on the most needy members of our society. Badly done!

The reason given for the decision is baffling, shallow, and hypocritical. Bowing to pressure from right-wing groups, the Foundation said that it will cease the funding because of a policy prohibiting contributions a grant applicant or any of its affiliates if it is “currently under a local, state or federal formal investigation for financial or administrative impropriety or fraud.” This refers to the Congressional witch-hunt launched by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R – FL) who has stated unapologetically that his whole mission is to destroy Planned Parenthood.  Even worse for Komen, this policy seems only to apply to money that flows outward. They accept huge partnership donations from Bank of America, a corporation which is currently the subject of at least five state and federal investigations. How’s that for self-serving hypocrisy?

The Foundation is in desperate spin mode as more people react with justifiable outrage at this decision. The negative comments on their Facebook page are mounting up faster than the Foundation can manage them. Dozens of major donors are encouraging people to give their money to other cancer charities unless Komen reverses itself; New York Mayor Bloomberg gave Planned Parenthood $250,000 to help defray the loss. The Executive Director of Komen’s Los Angeles chapter has resigned in protest. Komen founder and CEO is spewing alternate explanations on every available news channel at a speed that would make Herman Cain dizzy.

Let’s hope this pressure has the desired effect: the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation must reverse this deeply flawed decision and recognize that pressure from the right will never serve the interests of American women. Until then, anyone interested in funding cancer research and prevention should look for another home for their dollars.  At this point, I fear the Komen Foundation is so utterly corrupt that it is now beyond repair.

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