Archive for the ‘LGBT’ category

Matthew Shepard

October 7, 2011

Just before going to church on Sunday, October 9, I checked my email. Included was a message from Fenceberry, telling about the beating of a young man in Wyoming. His life hung in the balance at that time. I went to church and cried. Fortunately, this was at an LGBT-inclusive church, the kind of place where I could share this during the Prayers of the People.

I don’t have much to say that hasn’t already been said by so many others. I’m just remembering Matthew, and thinking about his parents–particularly about his mother Judy, who has become such a strong advocate and spokesperson, despite and because of her deep, deep loss.


Book Review: “Wide-Open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965”

July 4, 2011

Wide-Open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965Wide-Open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965 by Nan Boyd

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As usual, I finished this book a long time ago and forgot to review it…

I liked this book. It’s full of stories of people who lived queer lives well before Stonewall, well before I came out (in 1973). I’d recommend it to LGBT people and allies who are interested in what things were like “back then”. So many of those chronicled in this book have died. We need to know and appreciate their stories and what they did to create the world that is changing for the better so rapidly today.

View all my reviews

The case against the Rev. Jane Adams Spahr

March 24, 2011

NOTE: I am a member of the board of That All May Freely Serve, the organization co-founded by the Rev. Janie Spahr after another church court denied her call to serve at the Downtown United Presbyterian Church in Rochester, New York. I am also a legally-married-to-a-same-gender-spouse-in-California who was married in church in a service officiated by an ordained clergymember. It is impossible for me to be unbiased, and I make no apologies for that.

A lot happened today in the appeal of the verdict rendered last summer in the case of Presbytery of the Redwoods vsthe RevJane Adams Spahr.

I typically live-tweet or live-blog such events–something I did during the trial itself–but the (in my opinion) archaic policy of the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Synod of the Pacific disallows the use of electronic communications of any kind while they are in session. Consequently, I was reduced to taking notes via pen-and-paper.

I will share what took place in today’s appeal, but I am making the very intentional choice tonight to not do so until after this body has rendered its verdict. Not that they will likely be reading (or be influenced by) the writing of a blogger who sat through the hearing, but you never know.

In the meantime, I have been thinking and praying about this case, about Janie and the myriad of charges that have been filed against her over the years. In so doing, I started where I often begin: with seeking a definition of the terms. So what is a trial? Here is what the dictionary says:



  1. Law:
    a. the examination before a judicial tribunal of the facts put in issue in a cause, often including issues of law as well as those of fact.
    b. the determination of a person’s guilt or innocence by due process of law.
  2. the act of trying, testing, or putting to the proof.
  3. test; proof.
  4. an attempt or effort to do something.
  5. a tentative or experimental action in order to as certain results; experiment.
  6. the state or position of a person or thing being tried or tested; probation.
  7. subjection to suffering or grievous experiences; a distressed or painful state: comfort in the hour of trial.
  8. an affliction or trouble.
  9. a trying, distressing, or annoying thing or person.
  10. Ceramics:
    a piece of ceramic material used to try the heat of a kiln and the progress of the firing of its contents.

Some of these definitions go far beyond what we most often think of in terms of charges being filed and the courtroom-type process to come up with a verdict; and some of those words are so appropriate. Trying, distressing or annoying. Affliction or trouble. Subjection to suffering or grievous experiences.

Hopefully, having friends and colleagues who love Janie with her today provided that “comfort in the hour of trial” listed among the descriptions as well.

Also today, as the opposing counsel presented her arguments, I had a scripture passage, a psalm, echoing through my head. This passage is the favorite of the father of one of the women who testified at Janie’s trial; it was a favorite of God’s glorious gadfly, the Rev. Howard B. Warren, as well.

Psalm 139

1 Yhwh, you’ve searched me,
and you know me.
2 You know if I am standing or sitting,
you read my thoughts from far away.
3 Whether I walk or lie down, you are watching;
you are intimate with all of my ways.
4 A word is not even on my tongue, Yhwh,
before you know what it is;
5 you hem me in, before and behind,
shielding me with your hand.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
a height my mind cannot reach!
7 Where could I run from your Spirit?
Where could I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you’re there;
if I make my bed in death, you’re already there.
9 I could fly away with wings made of dawn,
or make my home on the far side of the sea,
10 but even there your hand will guide me,
your mighty hand holding me fast.
11 If I say, “The darkness will hide me,
and night will be my only light,”
12 even darkness won’t be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day—
darkness and light are the same to you.
13 You created my inmost being
and stitched me together in my mother’s womb.
14 For all these mysteries I thank you—
for the wonder of myself,
for the wonder of your works—
my soul knows it well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
while I was being made in that secret place,
knitted together in the depths of the earth;
16 your eyes saw my body even there.
All of my days
were written in your book,
all of them planned
before even the first of them came to be.
17 How precious your thoughts are to me, O God!
How impossible to number them!
18 I could no more count them
than I could count the sand.
But suppose I could?
You would still be with me!
23 Examine me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts—
24 see if there is misdeed within me,
and guide me in the way that is eternal.

This is the framework of my thinking and my prayers until we hear from the PJC. I invite you to join in continuous prayer for love and justice until their verdict is issued.

Grace and peace,

Metropolitan Community Churches: Special: Clergy Against Bullying (CAB)

October 18, 2010

Special: Clergy Against Bullying (CAB)




Released: 13 October 2010

Today, as leaders of Christian communions and national networks, we speak with heavy hearts because of the bullying, suicides and hate crimes that have shocked this country and called all faith communities into accountability for our words or our silence. We speak with hopeful hearts, believing that change and healing are possible, and call on our colleagues in the Church Universal to join us in working to end the violence and hatred against our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters.

In the past seven weeks, six young and promising teenagers took their own lives. Some were just entering high school; one had just enrolled in college. Five were boys; one, a girl becoming a young woman. These are only the deaths for which there has been a public accounting. New reports of other suicides continue to haunt us daily from around the country.

Read more: Metropolitan Community Churches: Special: Clergy Against Bullying (CAB).

Out October: My Transgender Life

October 1, 2010

This isn’t my post. It’s from my online friends at The New Civil Rights Movement. With the rash of young queer suicides in the news, please read it. Remember: these are just the suicides we hear about. There are many, many more.


I created “Out October” as a month-long series dedicated to sharing stories of hope and strength. Stories that highlight people finding their way. Stories that tell everyone, but especially LGBTQ youth, that you can make it, that there is always hope, that there is always a way.

Here we have our first story to kick off “Out October.” I choose this story to start out the series because of its power, the strength of the individual and the message it sends to all who see it. Each weekday I will be adding to the list of stories, some are videos, some are written letters, but they all highlight the courage and strength it takes to “Take the next step.”

This documentary describes Erin’s feelings of growing up in the wrong body, how she dealt with it and how she is dealing with it. She tells of her feelings and her emotional responses. Erin Winter is a pillar of strength, and in her weak moments she knows she has people in her life she can turn to, like her partner, also transgender and a lesbian. These words don’t define them, they are a part of them but do not make them who they are.

Read the rest of this article at The New Civil Rights Movement.

Follow-up: Response from Lawry’s

September 21, 2010

I posted my open letter to Lawry’s Restaurants VIP program last week. I was upset about the way that Melinda and I were addressed (“Mr. and Mrs. Forbes”) in their invitation to us to share our upcoming anniversary at one of their locations.

Here is their response that I received by email today:

Dear Ms. Forbes,

I apologize we did not get back with you sooner. Richard Frank is currently on vacation, and rather than wait until his return, I wanted to respond to your email below.

I’d like to say that we are quite concerned and frankly embarrassed that we have overlooked an issue like this. This is the first time this issue has been brought to my attention and I can certainly understand why it would upset you. We are truly sorry that we put a damper on your special day. These mailings are intended to thank our guests for their loyalty and to bring joy, certainly not anguish. I hope that you will accept our apology.

Now, to fixing the problem. Once I became aware of your concern, I immediately contacted our agency that manages our VIP program and mailings to inquire about what could be done to rectify the issue. Of course, it seems nothing is ever easy as the systems that are in place do not allow for multiple last names to be addressed on these mailings. What would seem like a simple fix is actually very complicated and will take revamping the entire system. That said, I think we have a solution that will allow us to have a more general way of addressing our guest (i.e. “The Forbes” or “Forbes Family”) rather than “Mr. & Mrs.”. This would have to be done for all addressee’s as that is a requirement of this specific system. While not a perfect solution, we hope that it will at least help in the short term while we work on a longer term fix. We are planning a revamp of the VIP Rewards program in 2011 and my hope is that we can find a more appropriate and permanent solution at that time.

Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention. Feedback like this really does help us continue to improve our VIP Rewards program to meet our guests’ needs.

If you choose to celebrate with us in the future, please let me know as we would like to make it up to you in some way.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Kind regards,

Rich Cope Director of Marketing Lawry’s Restaurants, Inc.
(626) 440-5272 ext. 55
(626) 440-5232 fax

—–Original Message—–

From: Allan Guarino
Sent: Monday, September 20, 2010 1:29 PM
To: Rich Cope
Subject: FW: Lawry’s Contact Us


This message came through the contact us page on the website. Thanks.


– – – – – – – – – –

I appreciate the way that they worded this response. I knew the solution wasn’t easy, since I worked in an IT capacity for some time, but just because it can’t be done today is no reason to say that it can’t be done. I’ll be keeping my eye on them to make sure that they live up to their promise. I think that since he said that they are “concerned and frankly embarrassed,” they will make it happen.

We’ll certainly go back now, and we will contact them about “mak[ing] it up to us in some way”!

Open letter to Lawry’s Restaurants:

September 16, 2010

Richard R. Frank
President and CEO
Lawry’s Restaurants

Mr. Frank:

We are happy to be Lawry’s VIP members; however, as a legally-married same-gender couple, we weren’t happy to receive our anniversary coupon and see it addressed to “Mr. & Mrs. Forbes.” When we filled out our application, it had spaces for both of our names, and we filled it out that way.

Anniversaries are special times, and this misgendering and lack of recognition makes it less likely that we would spend our special day with you at one of your restaurants.

By the way, this not only insults us, but it also insults the gay servers who have waited on us when we’ve dined with you.

The time for silence by LGBT people is past, and it’s time for you to recognize that — even in something as “simple” as this.

Sonnie Swenston and Melinda Forbes