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September 30, 2009

A little courage in a small Texas town

I  went to college in Texas – San Antonio in fact.  Spent 4 1/2 years there and gladly called it home at the time.  My partner and I called Houston home for 2 years.  Both cities have a thriving if not quaint gay population.  But drive a few hours over to a small east texas town called Tyler or neighboring Lindale – and you get a different tale.  Very conservative, very bible belt and extremely homophobic.  I think I would go so far as to say the very word “gay” is not even utter in single breath in that town (okay maybe I am exaggerating but you get the point) – it isn’t very welcoming to gay people at all.

Tyler Texas - Project TAG

Tyler Texas - Project TAG

In comes the AIDS service organization Project TAG (Tyler Area Gays) who decided to do a small part to introducing this community to the word “gay.”  What did they do – they adopted a highway.  We all have seen the signs, church groups, fraternities, lodges – adopt a section of a highway, clean it up and get their name put on a sign on that stretch of road.  Project TAG sought to do this with the idea of getting the word “gay” out in public in their community.  The hope – to desensitize the area about what is and is not “gay” and to get the community talking.  Will it work…only time will tell.  But I think it’s a great way to not only do a service for your community but to show how  LGBT people have the same civic and community goals as anyone else and oh by the way; they live in your town too!!

Way to go Project TAG – that takes a lot of courage in this little small east Texas town.

Thomas

September 27, 2009

President Clinton on Gay Marriage

Former President Bill Clinton

Former President Bill Clinton

Whether you love him or hate him, you got to admire his willingness to speak out and take a stand on a controversial issue – even going so far to admit he was wrong.  Many people remember that former President Clinton was the one who brought the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” military policy into effect.  And he has gone on record to say that he is against gay marriage.

Well in an interview with CNN Reporter Anderson Cooper (who is also gay), President Clinton admitted he was wrong in his opinion of gay marriage.  In the interview, he admitted that he was “hung up” on the actual word of marriage, considering he is 60 years of age and grew up in a time where marriage was only considered between a man and woman.  He went onto explain that he has always been in favor of gay adoption and  if  “….people want to make commitments that last a lifetime, they ought to be able to do it…..”  Former President Clinton cites his many gay friends that have helped him reached this conclusion on gay marriage.

Well I am for one glad that he came out (sort to speak) and said he supported gay marriage.  Now if only President Obama would do the same, that I think would mean to world to LGBT folks who care about the gay marriage question.

Thomas

September 17, 2009

What can the gay community do about climate change?

You can control climate change!

You can control climate change!

If gay people represent 1 out of every 10 people in the population, then it stands to reason that we can make a huge impact in our world’s climate.  Human rights campaigners in London have stressed this week the importance of the gay community to help fight climate change. Peter Tatchell, Human Rights Activist and Campaginer in London told reporters: “There is not much point campaigning for LGBT human rights unless we have a habitable planet on which to enjoy these rights. If global warming results in climate destruction and economic downturn, our quality of queer life will be seriously diminished. In the worst case scenario, human survival might be threatened.”

So if climate change has such a huge impact what can we do about it?  Tatchell has decided to start a campaign in his home country to combat climate change by starting the 10:10 initiative.  In a nutshell, he wants London’s gay population to cut its carbon footprint by 10% – Following the theory that if we are 1 out of every 10 people in the world, then lets cut our consumption by 10%.  It is definitely an achievable goal and one that all gay people can get behind.

Tatchell told reporters when he launched this program …”Cutting our personal carbon footprint by 10% by the end of 2010 is a realistic, achievable target that will make an impact.  It isn’t hugely difficult. I found it a fun challenge and quite easy. It has reduced my energy bills and saved me money. Walking, cycling and not eating meat has also made me fitter and healthier.  We don’t have to wait for the government and business to give us a lead. We can take the initiative ourselves by eliminating energy wastage in our homes, workplaces and neighbourhoods. By our personal example, we can pressure government and business to do the same….”

An example of climate flooding in London

An example of climate flooding in London

Just because this is a London inititiave doesn’t mean we can’t take steps to do this in our own home towns and cities.  What can you do to help reduce climate change:

1)  Change 10.  That’s right – Change a light, and you help change the world. Replace the conventional bulbs in your 10 most frequently used light fixtures with bulbs that have the ENERGY STAR label and you will help the environment while saving money on energy bills. If every household in the U.S. took this one simple action we would prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions from nearly 20 million cars.

2)  If there is a recycling program in your community, recycle your newspapers, beverage containers, paper and other goods. Use products in containers that can be recycled and items that can be repaired or reused. In addition, support recycling markets by buying products made from recycled materials.

3)  Check your tire pressure regularly. Under-inflation increases tire wear, reduces your fuel economy by up to 3 percent, and leads to increased emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants. If you don’t know the correct tire pressure for your vehicle, you can find it listed on the door to the glove compartment or on the driver’s-side door pillar.

4)  Use public transportation, carpool or walk or bike whenever possible to avoid using your car. Leaving your car at home just two days a week will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 1,600 pounds per year. Whenever possible, combine activities and errands into one trip.

5)  Use less hot water. It takes a lot of energy to heat water. Reducing the amount used means big savings in not only your energy bills, but also in carbon dioxide emissions. Using cold water for your wash saves 500 pounds of carbon dioxide a year, and using a low-flow shower head reduces 350 pounds of carbon dioxide. Make the most of your hot water by insulating your tank and keeping the temperature at or below 120°.

This by means isn’t everythign you can do but its a start.  If the gay community can get behind this and take the lead, we can defintely do our part.  Way to go Mr. Peter Tatchell for starting this in London, what a great idea for all of us to follow.

Thomas

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