Lesbians, Vegetarians, Atheists, and Feminists. If you're not scared off by now, stay and read a few more things I have to say.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sick & Busy & Quick Interesting News Roundup

So, I've been non-stop busy...and then, when I finally got a chance to rest, I got sick. Isn't that the way it goes?

There have been lots of things that I've been wanting to blog about, though.

1) NH made national news! But, it is because one of our largest newspapers, out of our biggest cities, refuses to publish engagement and wedding announcements for same-sex couples. And, then, The Union Leader claims that this is not because it is "anti-gay." Which begs the question, can you be pro-gay but anti-same sex marriage? I would say no.

2) Juan Willians was fired from NPR. And, now, the question becomes, can you be fired for being intolerant? NPR is arguing yes, but conservatives, in an ironic twist, are on the side of free speech. I initially sided with my beloved NPR, but, the more I consider, the less sure I become. Certainly, if Juan Williams was voicing his opinion of being pro-choice or pro-same-sex marriage, I would not want him fired for expressing those opinions. So, can a journalist not express opinions, or can they not express intolerant opinions? The jury is still out - and NPR's funding is hopefully not in danger.

3) Sanity was restored, for a day. And, if anything, it produced some signs and poked fun at the ludicrousness of the tea party movement. But, will it encourage all of those people to not be apathetic about voting and keep liberals in political offices? Who knows.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"Speaking the truth about homosexual behavior is not bullying"

Also, apparently, I need to start recruiting more lesbians. I don't think I've gotten nearly enough people to switch teams. I'm so bad at this whole 'gay agenda' thing.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sweet and Spicy Ginger Cookies

Do you even know how good ginger snaps are?

Not those gross hard things they sell in the store. Ones that are soft, spicy, and warm. Those that beg for a tall glass of milk to accompany them. Cookies that taste exactly like the bright, beautiful, crisp fall days outside. They make you want to put on a sweater, carve a pumpkin, and begin your Christmas shopping list.

1 cup all purpose flour
1 3/4 cups white wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup dark molasses
white granulated sugar for rolling

Start with that whole combining all the dry ingredients thing.

Cream the butter and sugar. Mmmm, brown sugar. So delicious. And then whip in the egg and molasses. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together. Now, chill for at least two hours.

Once thoroughly chilled, you're going to roll the dough into small balls. These are then rolled in the granulated sugar and pressed down slightly. Finally, place them on a baking sheet and cook for approximately 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Let's Raise the Age of Adulthood to 21

I was seventeen when the first pornographic image of me was taken. The man who took the photos was twice my age. We were dating. I wouldn't say at the time that there was coercion, but looking back, there certainly was a teenage willingness-to-please and an older man's knowledge and advantage.

From that time on, it slowly became fairly normal to be photographed nude or during sex. And, by nineteen, I was the one suggesting we upload the images on to the internet. They were featured on some amateur porn sites, and, for a while, we contemplated the idea of creating a pay-site. (I was too busy with school work

I stopped creating new images at twenty two.

It's been two and a half years. My pictures are still out there, somewhere, in cyber space, if you look for them. But, more pictures are being uploaded every day. Since mine were nothing special, I think they are lost in the crowd. And, I am very comforted by that.

But, what it makes me think is that an eighteen year old is not old enough to give knowing consent. At eighteen, we make decisions that we are held legally responsible for, but without the development and knowledge to fully comprehend the decisions we are making. I know what you're thinking, that I'm just advocating for the shirking of responsibility. It's not true. I just think that teenagers need to have different consequences than adults; ones that are less punitive and more educational. In my case, there was no punishment, my delinquency was legal. But, maybe I just lucked out.

I'd propose we raise the age of 'adulthood' to twenty one. That's it. No great fix. But, it'd be something, anyhow.

Monday, October 11, 2010

National Coming Out Day

My own coming out story is not full of drama, and I think, frankly, it was a relief to my family. I had gone from one emotionally abusive relationship with a man to a polygamous relationship that was emotionally, physically, and sexually abusive. So, just being in a monogamous relationship with a woman almost seemed safe to my family, I think. And fortunately my girlfriend, that cute little shinobi wan kenobi, is amazingly kind and sensitive. So, my initial coming out story was, relatively, easy.

But, oftentimes, in our heteronormative culture, it seems like every day is coming out day. It seems there is always the re-explaining of the 'no, I don't have a boyfriend, I have a girlfriend,' to acquaintances, friends, more distant relatives. So, here's to a day when we won't need coming out days - when it will be assumed that you grow up and love who you love, marry who you marry, and it's all just considered normal. In the future, I'll wish you a Happy We're All Equal Day. :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Chance to Breathe

Breathing - relaxing - feels so, so, so nice. I'm on a four-day weekend. And while I spent the first day sick, and we've had company yesterday and today, it still just feels amazing. No 3:30am sexual assault hospital calls for me. Is this how most people feel day-to-day when they aren't always talking about domestic violence, sexual assaults, and stalking? Probably.

I love my job. But, I really, really need these breathers.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Perfect Wedding Location

Three Year Olds "Making Up" Sexual Assaults

Yeah, that's what I have to listen to when I attend Case Review once a month.

Let me give you some context. Case Review brings together county attorneys, police detectives, child protective workers, victim/witness advocates, forensic interviewers, licensed mental health counselors, and forensic pediatricians. Oh, yeah, and me. This team discusses the ongoing juvenile sexual assault cases for the region. Updates are given, the team considers various aspects of the cases, and, ideally, it is ensured that the victims and their families are given as much support as possible.

Generally, this is a positive thing.

The problems arise every month, however, typically out of the mouths of police officers (but, occasionally from child protective workers or county attorneys). Well, they are problems to me, at least, but seem not to be problems to most of the other members of the team.

See, a child discloses first to someone - a parent, a teacher, a counselor. Then, they're interviewed by a forensic interviewer. If this second disclosure occurs, it tends to be taken seriously and some good follow-up work is done. Sometimes, however, during the follow-up work, the police will interview the alleged perpetrator. And, occasionally, for whatever reason, the alleged perp. will give off a "not a pedophile" vibe and/or won't 'crack' under interrogation. If this occurs, the police will often begin to question the integrity of the victim and/or the victim's parents.

In yesterday's case, this means stating that a three year old who is stating that she was digitally sodomized by her father, was probably lying.

Now, I come at cases from a different viewpoint. I believe victims. Period. That is what I am paid for. However, I don't just believe victims because I am told I am supposed to. I believe them because I sit with them and listen to them cry "Why did this happen to us? Is my child ever going to be okay again?". I am asked their questions "How could he do that to my baby? Why didn't I know sooner?" I hear their anger "He betrayed my trust. He hurt my child. This was not supposed to happen." I know in my soul that this is not a matter of a family on a vendetta or a child with an active imagination. All the other signs are there; all the symptoms. The child awakes in the middle of the night screaming for her father to get off of her. This is not fiction: this is reality.

But I am not the police. If that alleged perp. seems credible, if that child doesn't seem like exactly the 'best' victim you could find, the case gets closed. The alleged perp. can continue to find other children to harm. The girl can know that her speaking out results in nothing. The family can feel let down by the system and jaded. And, most likely, visitation will have to continue. The sexual abuse will continue. She was a liar when she was three, so when she tells again at six, at eight, at fourteen...there is less of a chance she will be believed. The courts will tell her mother to stop being so vindictive - that there was no evidence that her daughter was sexually abused - why would she try to keep a child away from her father.

And then, forty years from now, maybe she'll join a different support group I co-facilitate. Not the one for children who have been sexually abused. The one for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The one where their pain stems more from being not heard, from being quieted, from being ignored, than from the sexual violence perpetrated against them. The one where we'll bring in pumpkins at the end of the month to carve, in an attempt to give them back part of their childhood.

It breaks my heart that we err on the side of perps. It breaks my heart that I know of sexual abuse being perpetrated - probably right at this moment - and I can do nothing about it. That is why this job burns people up. We get to see this first hand, case after case. I get to meet them when they are three, and again, each year after that.

They're not making it up. Please believe me that they aren't. This is my prayer to a god who doesn't exist.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Acceptance of Same-Sex Marriage

Gay marriage is slowly becoming more and more accepted, according to the Pew Research Center. The question is; does this represent attitudes changing or does it represent older members of society dying off and the younger generation's liberalism?

I'm really hoping that some of it, at least, includes changes in attitudes: I'd like to believe that people are willing to examine the evidence, notice that gay people are neither evil nor are they causing the downfall of the 'traditional' family, and then alter their beliefs.

Sesame Seed Balls

These may not look like much, but these are heaven's balls. (Which are only 600 times better then male testicles, I swear. These aren't salty or sweaty; only sweet and delicious.)
You haven't heard of them before? Well, that's 'cause you probably have never had one of the best brunches ever: dim sum. Don't get me wrong, our Western breakfasts are awesome, and I am planning a crepe blog post soon (have patience, mon petit chou), but you never really get anything umami out of our Western brunches.

Sesame Seed Balls are served at dim sum, but, fortunately, can also be found at Chinese bakeries even until the afternoon (although, they were probably made in the morning, so they're less fresh later on in the day). But, what's great about them aside having the delightful sesame flavor plus the sweetness of lotus nut paste? Well, there's many things, but the next most important one is that they're vegan. Yes, that's right: tasty, delicious, and animal-product free.

So, even though I have yet to make this recipe at home myself, here it is for you. (If you don't want to make a batch at home, either, hit up Chinatown and just enjoy. In Boston, they're only $.60 a piece. The best sixty cents you'll have ever spent.)
1 1/2 cups glutinous rice flour
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup boiling water
lotus nut paste
1/2 cup sesame seeds
a bowl of cold water
oil for frying

The bulk of the ball is just the glutinous rice flour, brown sugar and boiling water. Those three ingredients are combined and kneaded until they form a dough. A teaspoon of the lotus nut paste is put inside a well created in each pinched off piece of dough, and then the balls are cinched shut. Next, they're dunked in cold water and rolled in sesame seeds. Finally, they're fried in oil to give them their golden color. For details and more on the recipe see Hell Yeah It's Vegan!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Gliese 581g

Who knew astronomers actually did something?

Ones who work for Carnegie Institute in Washington and the University of California at Santa Cruz do, at least. After eleven years, they found a planet that could, potentially, be inhabitable to life. It has the right temperature conditions, the potential for having liquid water, and an atmosphere that may be able to support life. (It's also not known if there is oxygen, but even if there isn't, some bacteria don't need it anyhow.)

According to Steven Vogt, co-discover, he believes that there is a "100% chance" of life existing on Gliese 581g.

So, if we found Earth 2.0, what does this mean for the various religions? How do you mesh the concept of life on another planet with current religious viewpoints? It will be interesting to see the reaction (or, maybe, the reaction will just be the standard response: see my previous post for the formula).

How would it change your world view if 'aliens' became scientific fact?

Science v. The Church

From SMBC.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

When will it be 1964, again?

Dan Savage, columnist for The Stranger, has created a viral video entitled It Gets Better, in response to the recent rash of suicides by LGBTQ youth.

It's a good video. It's touching; it's inspiring; it's honest; it contains personal stories. And as for myself and my girlfriend, I can certainly say life has indeed gotten much better since middle and high school. And, for most teenagers, LGBTQ or not, life is probably significantly better after high school.

But, is society getting better? It would be easy to say yes. There are more openly gay people, in my home state we can get legally married, there are some anti-discrimination laws on the books, and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is something that quickly is looking like it will be a thing of the past.

But, then, I hesitate. I live in New England. Things are better...here. Things are better...among young people. Things are better...when you're talking to liberals. But, once I try to un-insulate myself, travel down south, speak to those who are religiously conservative, talk to the over forty or over fifty crowd, things don't seem much better.

Actually, they seem kinda worse. The openly gay hate is not just accepted; it's celebrated. With each step forward toward equality, civil liberties, and social acceptance that the LGBTQ community takes, the louder and the angrier the conservative right be
comes. If you were living within a deeply religious community forty years ago, would it have been easier, day-to-day to be gay? While you felt the need to closet your identity, would you not have had to stomach weekly prayers led against homosexuals?

But, to steal more analogies from the struggles of the African American community, I feel like we are now facing our own version of the KKK. It is our 1920s - and we are free, but not equal. We are accepted by more, but the radical groups are only angrier and more determined. We have our own Jim Crow Laws; DOMA, DADT. There are businesses that want to turn us away, not cater our weddings. There are churches who don't want us inside. And there are some of us who 'pass,' who pretend we are straight in order to gain more opportunities and advancement.

I'm looking forward to our Civil Rights Act, to our 1964.

(Note: In no way do I want to belittle the struggles of the African American community, nor do I wish to say that we have suffered in exactly similar ways, or have exactly similar histories. It has been historically difficult to be gay, but we have not suffered the atrocities of forced servitude and bondage. Please understand that I find ALL people deserving of basic human rights and of dignity. We turn toward the African American Civil Rights Movement for leadership and guidance. Thank you for standing up, demanding to be heard and counted and making it easier for the rest of us to do the same.)