Thursday, December 24, 2009

First Civil Disobedience Action for LGBTQI Equality Here in New York

Dear Reader,


Here is the video link for the first civil disobedience action for LGBTQI equality here in New York City. We are tired of incrementalism. We need our civil rights NOW.


This is only the beginning.

Thanks for reading.

Alan L. Bounville

Monday, December 14, 2009

If You Haven't Already...

Dear Reader,

If you haven't already, please sign up to receive updates at www.ohdi.blogspot.com. That's the blog I manage for one of my main activist projects.

There you can see weekly video updates 'showing' the growing support of the online petition that supports this initiative.

Thanks for reading.

Alan L. Bounville

Thursday, December 3, 2009

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE FOR LGBTQI EQUALITY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 3, 2009

Media Contact:

Alan L. Bounville

Activist and Graduate Student

New York University

407-484-6671

alanbounville@gmail.com

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE FOR LGBTQI EQUALITY

First Meeting in New York City to Set First Action

Several voices have emerged recently calling for the LGBTQI and supportive community to rise up and peacefully take the fight for their freedoms into their own hands. As we have seen this week alone, win some lose some tactics does not ensure all of us are treated equal under the law. The incrementalist approach to gaining full equality has lagged on long enough.

It is time for consistent, well-planned acts of Civil Disobedience for the whole of our nation to know we, those who believe in equality for all will no longer wait for judges, legislators and executives to dole out what is rightfully ours. And we will no longer accept the notion that anyone has the right to vote on civil liberties.

It is time we let those who want to continue working within the three branches of government to do that – and for the rest of us to join forces and do what every other civil rights fight has done to gain full equality – engage in Civil Disobedience.

The first of what will become a series of meetings until our full equality is achieved will be held on Sunday, December 20 from 6-8 pm. The meeting will take place at the LGBT Community Center at 208 W. 13th Street, New York, NY 10011.

At this meeting we will brainstorm as a group all ideas group members have in regard to civil disobedient actions and again, as a group choose our first action.

For more information or to RSVP contact:

Alan L. Bounville

alanbounville@gmail.com

Alan L. Bounville is an organizational oppression and LGBTQI activist and graduate student at New York University in New York City. His current project, encouraging the fifth largest employer in his former city, Orlando, FL to provide domestic partner benefits, create a multicultural office and open the dialogue about diversity can be found at: www.ohdi.blogspot.com.

Andrew Conte, co-coordinator of this meeting was co-founder of Impact Florida, an activist group in the Tampa Bay area and has for years engaged in activism towards LGBTQI equality.

XXX

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New Post - Giving Thanks

Dear Reader,

Here is the latest post for the Orlando Health Diversity Initiative.


Thanks for reading.

Alan L. Bounville

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Gay Apartheid Protest this Sunday in New York City - Plan One in Your City Too!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 4, 2009

Media Contact:

Alan L. Bounville
Activist and Graduate Student
New York University
407-484-6671
alanbounville@gmail.com

www.tinyurl.com/gayapartheidprotest

REACTION TO GAY APARTHEID IN MAINE

New York City Residents Protest this Sunday, November 8, 2009 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Join supporters of equality outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral this Sunday to show those who oppose equality the faces of their discrimination. Stepping beyond the comfort zones of rallies and marches we take our message directly to the people and one of the organizations that have brought about gay apartheid in the United States.

Protesters should come with signs and their voices. This is a peaceful demonstration, but the anger against the members of the Catholic Church in New York City, who helped by their affiliation to the Catholic Church in Maine pass the hateful Question 1 in Maine yesterday need to know that no longer can we live as a nation that is separate and not equal.

Protest participants are also encouraged to call their U.S. elected officials at 202-224-3121 and tell them that supporting gay apartheid on all fronts is wrong. It is against the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Protest Details can be found below and at:
www.tinyurl.com/gayapartheidprotest

Gay Apartheid Protest Details:

Sunday, November 8, 2009
Outside St. Patrick's Cathedral
9 AM - 1 PM
460 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10022-6863
___________________________________________________

Alan L. Bounville is an organizational oppression and LGBTQI activist and graduate student at New York University in New York City. His current project, encouraging the fifth largest employer in his former city, Orlando, FL to provide domestic partner benefits, create a multicultural office and open the dialogue about diversity can be found at: www.ohdi.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Why I Call Orlando Health Leaders Bigots - and New Information about MD Anderson Cancer Center

Dear Reader,

I have uploaded the weekly video for the Orlando Health Diversity Initiative project. You can view it here.

Thanks for reading.

Alan L. Bounville

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

NEW BLOG AND VIDEO PROJECT FOR ORLANDO HEALTH DIVERSITY MOVEMENT

Dear Reader,

I am very excited to announce the completion of the first video documenting this movement. This video is the first in a weekly installment where I will be 'showing' each week's growing support encouraging Orlando Health to be more culturally competent.

Visit the new blog and view the video here:


Thanks for Activating!

Alan L. Bounville

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Unexpected Family Time Courtesy of Orlando Health

Dear Reader,

On the flight home the other night from my weekend in Orlando actively engaging supporters and dissenters of the petition that is encouraging Orlando Health to be more culturally competent, I couldn't help but think of the inadvertent outcome of my trip.

I was not planning a trip to Orlando so soon after moving to New York. I was not planning on using the buddy passes my best friend had put aside for me to go spend a day sweating my butt of looking like a freak outside my old job - those passes were supposed to take me to Puerto Rico or Aruba - somewhere away from my school and activist work. Then again, I never planned on working in a city for ten years where the topic of diversity/multiculturalism is so downplayed in importance by many companies and individuals.

As I stared out the plane window and started digesting the past year plus that led to this activity, I breathed a sign of relief that I was heading home - to my new home where discussions about diversity/multiculturalism are vibrant, active and ongoing. I started to appreciate the openness of the dialogue here in New York City and at New York University. It is a great feeling to know I can walk into NYU's Center for Multicultural Education and Programing or into any of my classes and discuss this ongoing work with people who understand exactly why I am doing what I am doing to prod along Orlando Health to a more vibrant future of its own.

But, a thank you of sorts goes out to Orlando Health for not being as inclusive as it needs to be - because had the organization been doing the right thing all along, I would have had no reason to go back to Orlando so soon and therefore, I would not have been able to experience...
  • The conversation I had with my nephew about his first months in high school and what his plans are for his future.
  • The time I spent with my oldest niece working with her on homework - defining for herself what the Declaration of Independence means.
  • Listening to my second youngest niece tell me about how softball is going.
  • Jumping in the trampoline with the two youngest nieces and popping them like popcorn.
  • Singing with my youngest niece as I drove her to school. (My favorite part of this experience is when we played the humming game and she hummed the melody to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star three times. As it turns out, she knows three different sets of lyrics that use the same melody. To her, each time she was humming the song for me to guess what it was, she was humming a different song all together.)
  • The meaningful and funny conversations I had with my sister and brother-in-law.
  • Having brunch with my friends - some of whom are team members at Orlando Health.
So, yes thank you Orlando Health for dragging your feet towards the change you will be forced to make as the momentum for the petition and proposal we presented to you gains traction. The silly part of all this is - the longer Orlando Health waits to do the right thing, the more time they will give me with my family and in the end - I won't be the one looking bad for pushing so hard for this billion dollar + a year organization to fall in line with other business leaders in Central Florida. Orlando Health - the longer you wait the more positive memories you give me and the worse you look.

Parting questions (please post your thoughts)...

Why do Central Floridians or anyone traveling to the Orlando area put up with companies like Orlando Health not embracing the version of cultural competence companies like Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, AT&T, IBM, Universal Orlando, etc., etc., etc. embrace?

Why is it multi-market or multi-national companies that do business in Central Florida (like those listed above) are more inclusive than the companies without any out of market controls?

Why is Orlando Health not open to team members forming affinity groups to discuss diversity/multiculturalism and its impact on the mission of Orlando Health?

Thanks for reading.

Alan L. Bounville

PS The video footage from this past weekend is being edited and a recap video to share with others will be available very soon. Also, the next phase of this movement will also be announced upon release of the video. Keep getting signatures on the petition.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Brief Recap of Today's Event at Orlando Health


Dear Reader,

I...am...

showered and cooled down. It was hot out there today! Thank you goes out many people who helped me get through the day, make sure I didn't cross over into the permitted area (so I didn't get arrested as I was told would happen) and did their part to make this next step towards a more culturally competent Orlando Health a success. (I will formally thank these contributors after I receive their permission to do so.)

A success not because there is some magic number of petitions signatures it will produce.
A success not because all of the sudden tomorrow Orlando Health is going to finally make the changes outlined in the petition (though that would be awesome).

But a success because every step bringing attention to this movement is a step closer to the the vision outlined in the petition.

The image above shows me 'wearing' all the names of the petition that were signed by earlier this week. Imagine - with your help how I will look when we get to 500 signatures - or a thousand.


Thanks for reading.

Alan L. Bounville

PS I will be editing the video footage from today and posting that very soon so you can see more of the impact the 115 people I was wearing had on today's activity.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Few Quotes to Keep Me Motivated on a Sleepless Night

Dear Reader,

I've been finishing the final details in preparation for tomorrow's activity I will be doing to encourage Orlando Health to be more culturally competent. I have all my ducks in a row so to speak - support materials printed in case any one wants to ask in depth questions about the difference between what Orlando Health currently promotes as its cultural competence and what really defines cultural competence. I have all my other printed materials in order as well to collect paper petitions and promote the online petition. And of course, I have finished my very visual display that will show all who see me all of the other voices that have come forward thus far in this movement.

But, the focus here this early morning is to share with you a few powerful quotes that have kept me fueled this evening. The quotes come from a fantastic book, Voices of a People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove. Enjoy...

"If there is no struggle there is no progress...This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both." - Frederick Douglass (inside front cover past table of contents)

"(T)he plantation owner came, and said, 'Frannie Lou...If you don't go down and withdraw your registration, you will have to leave...because we are not ready for that in Mississippi' And I addressed him and told him and said, 'I didn't try to register you. I tried to register for myself." - Fannie Lou Hamer (p. 24) This was given as part of her testimony in 1964 in regard to her right to register to vote and the apparent oppressive nature of the plantation owner for whom she was a share cropper.

"Whenever injustices have been remedied, wars halted, women and blacks and Native Americans given their due, it has been because "unimportant" people spoke up, organized, protested, and brought democracy to life." (p. 24)

I hope tomorrow (that being Saturday) I am an unimportant person.

Thanks for reading.

Alan L. Bounville

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Preparing for this Saturday's Encouragement Activity at Orlando Health

Dear Reader,

Tonight I am printing petitions, slips of paper to promote the link to the online petition, the Human Rights Campaign's Health Care Equality Index, legal documents to have on hand showing anyone who asks that I am well within my first amendment rights, other support materials - all the while ordering my signage and visual display materials in support of Orlando Health becoming more culturally competent. I do this in preparation for a Saturday in my hometown. A Saturday that will matter more to me than many Saturdays have in the past. This Sunday I can say to myself, "I did something yesterday. I don't quite know what, but something."

Like all activities to inspire people to dream for something better, I won't know the outcome of Saturday's activity until it is complete. And then, I still might not know how it fits into this big puzzle. But what it does do is add another piece to the puzzle so eventually the picture will become crystal clear to Orlando Health and all of Central Florida how much needed are the changes promoted in the petition to encourage Orlando Health to become more culturally competent.

I will say this - I have modified (for the better I feel) what I will be doing outside Miracle Miles (an event I managed for 2 1/2 years by the way - helping it grow by 800 runners just last year - I say this not so show how effective I can be but to show how much I love this organization and want them to do the right thing in the areas outlined in the petition - I was dedicated to the Orlando Health mission then - and I stay dedicated to it to this day. Wow, that was a long parenthetical statement) and the Community Block Party this Saturday.

I feel one of three things will take place while I'm out there in front of the thousands of people who will be out at these combined events.

1. No one will care. I will be looked at as some wacko disgruntled ex employee (which I am not as my above parenthetical statement attests).

2. People will not be happy with me and make that known somehow.

3. People will be intrigued by what I am doing, ask questions, realize the present reality of Orlando Health's current policies, see all the other people who have supported this effort so far and jump on board and sign the petition on the spot.

In reality, I would imagine what I will experience will be a combination of the three. But, like the petition itself, what I will be doing on Saturday is an experiment. When one engages in trying to impact change, it can never be known exactly what the right mix is for the desired outcome. Thus, Sunday I will know I did something that mattered, but I may not know how it builds the history of this movement- yet.

But no matter what happens on Saturday - it's all good. It's another piece because...

I assure you, after over a year working towards the vision of a more inclusive Orlando Health - know that Saturday is just as I propose - one more step. I have no intention of giving up after this if this doesn't work. I have no clue how much will need to be done for the vision of the future to become the present reality. I only know that I will persist.

And, I say 'I' because in this moment I am only talking about my experiences in this movement. I am not the defining factor that will cause Orlando Health to finally make the changes it needs to make to be more culturally competent. I am just a person who sees a better way and has worked with a group of people who still work at the organization and are not able to be as bold as I to encourage change.

You though - you are also a person. You may decide you will get behind the existing efforts. You may (or may have already) sign the petition. You may end up out at the events this Saturday with your friends and family and all wear stickers to support the movement that is encouraging Orlando Health to be more culturally competent. You may do something completely different to help reach Orlando Health so they start publicly making change for the better in the area of diversity/multiculturalism.

And as should always be the case, no matter what Orlando Health promotes they are doing in this area now or in the future, I assure you I will - and you should as well - be keeping my eye keenly trained on their activities. The organization should have changed years ago when other business leaders in Central Florida started the journey to become more culturally competent. It is very important that when Orlando Health start this vital work they do so for the right reasons and in the right way. This is not a smoke and mirrors marketing strategy like making sure all advertising has multiple ethnic faces represented. This is about a deeper understanding about what it means to be culturally competent. About how to better recruit and retain a diverse team member base. About how to reduce disparities between ethnic group's health outcomes. About providing equal benefits to all team members.

And it's about a never ending commitment to diversity/multiculturalism to better achieve the mission of Orlando Health which is, "To improve the health and quality of life of the individuals and communities we serve." Which individuals and which communities does Orlando Health serve best at present? This is the question a culturally competent organization should always be asking itself, especially when lives are on the line in its work every hour of every day.

Thanks for reading.

Alan L. Bounville


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Video of Speech Submitted for Equality Idol Competition

Dear Reader,

I wanted to share with you first the following video I submitted for the Equality Idol competition. If the internal panel of judges for the National Equality March choose my video as one of the top five submissions it will be loaded onto their Facebook page and Youtube for public voting. If then my video received the most public votes I would be invited to speak at the October National Equality March. Your comments about this speech's content and delivery are greatly appreciated.


video

Thanks for reading - and watching.

Alan L. Bounville

Friday, September 11, 2009

First Day of School

Dear Reader,


On the arch in Washington Square Park in New York City it reads, “Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair. The event is in the hand of God.”

Washington


I sat there in the park by the fountain the other day to ‘have a moment’ before I attended my first class as a Master’s student moving closer to my dreams.


I sat there and thought of Les Caulfield. Les was my high school drama teacher and as I recently learned, a graduate of the New York University Master’s in Educational Theatre program – my program. I remember right before I finished high school he advised me to find a comfortable place on campus to go to and reflect upon my past high school experiences and think about where I wanted to go with my future.


‘To reflect and dream’ is what he was suggesting. Where have I been and where do I want to go?


I didn’t complete that activity until last year. I went back to my high school campus on a stormy Florida summer afternoon, mid July and sat on a green bench and just thought. I thought about why I didn’t do as he suggested fourteen years before. I thought about what I wanted to do with myself, ‘when I grew up.’ And I reflected on the ten years since graduating college and what I had and had not set out to do and what I had and had not accomplished.


The green bench I sat upon was the bench I had lunch at every day during school. My girlfriends and I would have the best times there – just being. No thoughts of the future or the past – just there eating, having fun.


In the monsoon that fell upon me last summer, I decided I would not leave that bench until I decided that upon standing I was going to commit to finally take my life in its intended direction. Over the years innocence beget experience, but the experience didn’t always bring with it fun I had experienced so many years ago.


As I sat in the pouring rain, in the lightning and intense wind – drenching myself – cleansing myself in a sort of way – as I sat – I decided I didn’t want to be a fundraising event manager any more. I did that for five of the ten years since completing my BA in Theatre from The Florida State University. I didn’t want to live in Orlando any more. I wanted to move to New York City like I had told myself time and time again I would do some day. I wanted to affect social change in a creative way – especially towards LGBTQ equality. I wanted to immerse myself in a new way of being and have not the end result, but the journey be what I lived for, reveled in.


As I sat – in the park the other day I realized all it took to get me there staring up at the arch was the ability to listen just to myself for a change. And, in my first class on the first day of this new journey, which appropriately is a research methods class I felt relieved. And I appreciated the introduction given in the class in regard to the vast resources that are now at my fingertips here at NYU. I really did appreciate this. I can begin to see how literate leads to articulate which leads to changing the world. Seeing the utopia in my mind while studying and feeling my way through the reality of the new journey – and using these new seemingly endless resources to get a bit closer to the ideal – that’s why I am here. And that journey, thought it may be hard at times is a new kind of fun for me.


Thanks for reading.


Alan L. Bounville

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Next Phase Encouraging Orlando Health to Become More Culturally Competent

Dear Reader,

I am happy to announce the petition to encourage Orlando Health to become more culturally competent has surpassed 100 signatures! The comments that are coming in as people sign the petition show that Orlando Health needs to do better for its team members, physicians, patients and the whole community in regard to diversity/multicultural activity within the organization.

The petitioners so far include current team members, past team members, patients, community members, medical professionals and people from other communities who all agree - Orlando Health needs to become more culturally competent.

But, since Orlando Health has been unresponsive to the petition effort thus far, it is time to announce the next course of action to let the organization know that the over 100 people (and growing) who have signed the petition are very serious.

On Saturday, September 26 Orlando Health is celebrating the “Community Block Party” on the campus of Arnold Palmer Medical Center (APMC)* to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. Prior to the Community Block Party, also on the APMC campus is the 11th Annual Miracle Miles 15K, 5K and Kids’ Fun Run benefiting the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies. Both of these events signify great accomplishments for Orlando Health and benefit all of Central Florida.

And, these two events will be among the largest events in Orlando Health’s history with many thousands of people present. The petition organizer (Alan L. Bounville) and a team of this effort’s supporters will be presenting the below picketing display, offline petition gathering and online petition promotion on the public sidewalks right by the events on September 26th in accordance with the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and all applicable state and local laws between the hours of 6 AM – 3 PM unless…

Orlando Health presents a viable plan to the petition organizer and the public to adhere to the call to action in the petition (see link below) by Saturday, September 19, 2009 - a week prior to the joined events.

Below are links to the two events mentioned above and the petition. I hope you will come out to the events with your family showing how diverse Central Florida is and also support the building momentum of encouragement the community is now providing for Orlando Health to become more culturally competent.

Picketing Display (click on image to enlarge):

Community Block Party:

http://www.arnoldpalmerhospitalbirthday.com/BlockParty/default.aspx

Miracle Miles 15K, 5K and Kids’ Fun Run:

http://www.orlandohealth.com/orlandohealth/GetInvolved/MiracleMiles.aspx?pid=3523

Petition for Orlando Health to become more culturally competent:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/orlando-health-diversity-initiative

Sincerely,

Alan L. Bounville

Former Orlando Health team member and current donor in good standing with the organization

alanbounville@gmail.com

407-484-6671

Friday, September 4, 2009

Thank You! A Great Start.

Dear Reader,

Re: Orlando Health Diversity Initiative

Thanks goes out to:

Equality Florida
OneOrlando.org
Metropolitan Business Association (Central Florida's LGBT Chamber of Commerce)

for spreading the word through their networks of the importance of this petition.

And of course, to the growing number of individuals who have worked on the front lines and behind the scenes to this point and of course the signers of the petition.

See Equality Florida's blog post:

http://eqfl.blogspot.com/2009/09/urge-orlando-health-to-become-more.html

Orlando Health can better serve the entire Central Florida community by becoming more culturally competent.

See the petition and the support this petition is gaining:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/orlando-health-diversity-initiative

It's amazing to see how fast leaders in Florida are stepping up to the plate to endorse/support this effort.

Thanks for reading.

Alan Bounville
alanbounville@gmail.com
407-484-6671

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sign This Petition to Encourage Orlando Health to Become More Culturally Competent

Dear Reader,

Several months ago a group of Orlando Health team members presented a proposal to key executive leaders of the organization calling for the development of a diversity initiative to benefit the organization, its team members, physicians and patients and the community at large. After several meetings with key leaders within the organization nothing has happened.

There are several inconsistencies within Orlando Health's team member and patient policies in regard to diversity/multicultural awareness.

Some examples include:

-Orlando Health does not allow team members to form groups to discuss diversity/multicultural awareness.

-Orlando Health does not educate its team members about the culturally competent way to treat its patients and team members in regard to important racial and ethnic differences.

-Orlando Health protects a team member's sexual orientation in its team member nondiscrimination policy, but does not do so in its patient's bill of rights.

-Orlando Health does not protect the gender identity of its team members or patients.

-Orlando Health does not provide domestic partner health benefits for its team members, regardless of sexual orientation.

-Orlando Health's mission is "to improve the health and quality of life of the individuals and communities we serve." Due to the above and the unknown number of opportunities for recruitment and advancement the organization has not yet explored, Orlando Health is behind other business leaders.

As the fifth largest employer in Central Florida, it is time Orlando Health lead like Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando and several other top employers in the market and develop a diversity/multicultural awareness initiative that will ultimately lead to the organization establishing a diversity/multicultural office to better achieve its mission.

Please join me in signing this petition to tell Orlando Health it is time to embrace positive change.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/orlando-health-diversity-initiative

Thanks for reading.

Alan L. Bounville
Former Orlando Health team member and donor in good standing with the organization

Monday, August 31, 2009

THIS IS WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT - STRAIGHT FAMILIES STANDING SIDE BY SIDE LGBT FAMILIES TO FIGHT FOR LGBT RIGHTS!!!

Dear Reader,

I have to share this video. This is EXACTLY what the LGBT community needs! Straight families standing side by side LGBT families to protect marriage equality in Maine.

Click here:

Together (First TV Spot)

Do you part to help Maine! Don't let opponents to marriage equality do in Maine what was done in California. Keep LGBT marriage legal in Maine!

Thanks for reading.

Alan L. Bounville

Sunday, August 30, 2009

An Actor Prepares and an Activist Persists - National Equality March is Coming

Dear Reader,

Some may say I am a bit on the Debbie Downer side with my writing. Well, yeah, OK I guess I embrace that. There is part of me that ends up with the 'feel good' sensation when I share poignant stories and information about the struggles of marginalized groups and their fight for equality. In the sharing I hope all my readers can be inspired to do what they can to continue bridging divides and forging forward towards a level playing field for all. So, for me sharing the bad does make me feel good.

As promised, this blog not only serves as a clearinghouse of stories, but as a place to explore the power of performance and performance material to change lives and minds. Below is a monologue I am working on for an audition next week. It fits right in with the goals of this blog and is a reminder of what it took during the height of the AIDS crisis for people to wake up and make change a reality. The monologue comes from Larry Kramer's play The Normal Heart. Kramer is a role model of mine. It is his integration of playwrighting, activism and other writing that is an inspiration to the work I do.

And more specifically, I share Kramer's approach towards fighting for LGBT equal rights. Kramer is quoted in this month's Advocate.com article Hope and History by Michael Joseph Gross. Kramer says about the fight for LGBT equal rights, "We are not here to make friends. “We are here to get our rights. And these two statements do not join together to blend into one happy halo."

While embracing Kramer's sentiments, I do hold to my original goals of this blog. I do want to hear dissenting voices - and understand them. I do want to attract various perspectives to this debate. But, I would be doing a disservice to the LGBT and supportive community if I did not continue hammering home the gravity of what this fight is up against. That is why I choose to continue exposing the uncomfortable stories that shape LGBT discrimination and hate - being a Debbie Downer. Though the dialogue will always remain open here, we all must realize that as in any fight for equality it is the gritty persistence that doesn't allow us to keep looking away. And like all fights for civil rights in this country, everyone must accept at some point the heat will rise to uncomfortable levels for all Americans until rights are granted for the marginalized group.

I believe we are on that cusp now in regard to LGBT equality. With movements like the upcoming National Equality March we are about to see what the LGBT and supportive community is made of - really made of. You don't have to be a political science expert to know that the pendulum of power in this country perpetually swings and the rest of 2009 is prime time to go after LGBT equal rights. I think there are enough smart people out there on both sides of this fight to know this fall brings with it a consuming fire that can only be extinguished by 100% equal rights for all LGBT Americans in all matters civil and criminal.

Supporters of LGBT equality like me will always do what we can to engage in the conversations that help change hearts and minds. But the time has come when the slow progress of niceties must be usurped for a while by bold action to claim the prize. Then, in the aftermath we can see who was there in the fight, who was beside the fight, who fought against equality and lost, who still fights against equal rights after the victory and who carries shame for not doing their part to be on the right side of history.

What will get each of us off our asses to get to the National Equality March? What will cause us to say now is the time to get real and realize LGBT and supportive Americans are in for the fight of our lives?

The following monologue reflects the public attitudes of the 1980's at the beginning of the AIDS crisis. In the 1980's and 90's LGBT people had a lot of motivation to get out there and Act Up. Gay men were dying from AIDS in droves and our governments were turning a blind eye while large swaths of our community were annihilated. The grief, anger and fear got LGBT people out there making lots of noise - and things changed. Governments started taking the AIDS crisis seriously.

Never forget, LGBT people die every day around the world - for no other reason than they are LGBT. Maybe this monologue will be a cold reminder of how the 80's were not too long ago - and how hate towards LGBT people is a constant today. We should all take the time to get outside our comfort zones and realize each LGBT person who is beaten, killed or otherwise discriminated against is one person a degree closer to each LGBT person and their loved ones. A bit closer to you. A bit closer to me.

Whether real stories or representations through art - I hope my continued sharing help minimize the margins for an equal future.

From The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer

"Bruce's partner has died of AIDS at a time when people did not understand the condition properly, and no successful treatment had yet been found. He is visiting Ned, an activist in getting society to accept and understand what is happening in the gay community" (Tucker, P and Ozanne, C. (2007). Award Monologues for Men. New York: Routledge).

"Bruce: He's been dead a week.
Ned: I didn't know he was so close.
Bruce: No one did. He wouldn't tell anyone. Do you know why? Because of me. Because he knows I'm so scared I'm some sort of carrier. This makes three people I've been with who are dead. I went to Emma and I begged her: please test me somehow, please tell me if I'm giving this to people. And she said she couldn’t, there isn't any way they can find out anything because they still don't know what they're looking for. Albert, I think I loved him best of all, and he went so fast. His mother wanted him back in Phoenix before he died, this was last week when it was obvious, so I get permission from Emma and bundle him all up and take him to the plane in an ambulance. The pilot wouldn't take off and I refused to leave the plane - you would have been proud of me - so finally they got another pilot. Then, after we take off, Albert loses his mind, not recognizing me, not knowing where he is or that he's going home, and then, right there on the plane, he becomes . . . incontinent. He starts doing it in his pants and all over the seat; shit, piss, everything. I pulled down my suitcase and yanked out whatever clothes were in there and I start mopping him up as best I can, and all these people are staring at us and moving away in droves and . . . I ram all these clothes back in the suitcase and I sit there holding his hand, saying, 'Albert, please, no more, hold it in, man, I beg you, just for us, for Bruce and Albert.' And when we got to Phoenix, there's a police van waiting for us and all the police are in complete protective rubber clothing, they looked like fucking astronauts, and by the time we got to the hospital where his mother had fixed up his room real nice, Albert was dead. (Ned starts toward him.) Wait, it gets worse. The hospital doctors refused to examine him to put a cause of death on the death certificate, and without a death certificate the undertakers wouldn't take him away, and neither would the police. Finally, some orderly comes in and stuffs Albert in a heavy-duty Glad Bag and motions us with his finder to follow and he puts him out in the back alley with the garbage. He says, 'Hey, man. See what a big favor I've done for you, I got him out, I want fifty bucks.' I paid him and then his mother and I carried the bag to her car and we finally found a black undertaker who cremated him for a thousand dollars, no questions asked.

Would you and Felix mind if I spent the night on your sofa? Just one night. I don't want to go home."

Thanks for reading.

Alan L. Bounville

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What Happens When We Stay Silent?

Dear Reader,



Above all else we fight for equality because:

There were/was:

7 gay murders in December 2008
1 LGBT murder every 9 days in 2008

19 states do not report LGBT murders.


Keep the above in mind as you are talking to those who don't understand why it is so important we stay vigilant to achieve 100% equality in all matters civil and criminal in America NOW.

How would you feel if these numbers reflected African Americans? Please comment below.

Thanks for reading.

Alan Bounville

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Speaking Out - A Correction - Exposing the Family Spectrum


Dear Reader,

I should clarify a few things I neglected to include in my last post. When I came out of my advocacy closet there were family members who were right by my side. Some telling me privately they fully supported LGBT equality and some, like two of my straight sisters who made their support public. (The sister referenced in the last post sent an email to the family after the November election supporting LGBT equality. My other sister seen to the right is known as San Diego's Fabulous Fruit Fly, always ready and waiting to flit to the front lines to fight for LGBT rights. Here she is seen marching along side the 2008 LGBT Pride parade in San Diego.)

My family is a mixture like any other. There are those who understand why fighting for LGBT equality is vital for social advancement and will get out there often to march with their LGBT family members. There are those family members who will do an occasional activity to show their support and shake up the system. There are those who will privately tell you, 'I'm proud of you. You're doing the right thing' but who won't let others know of their support. There are those who politely disagree. And there are those who will go to hurtful and unreasonable lengths to avoid dealing with the fact they are discriminating against one of their own.

Fortunate for me, none of my family are on the saddest end of the spectrum. None of them have disowned me. Maybe I have done more of the disowning of those most unwilling to hear my pleas because I can't stomach the feeling of being around family members who really don't get how their actions are hurting one of their own.

Maybe at that time later in life when my dissenting family members need me the most I will soften my animosity towards their hate and discrimination. When I see a loved one fighting for their life maybe I'll bend under the hopes that if I am caring and loving in their final days they will finally say 'I'm sorry I voted against your equal rights. I was wrong.' Maybe when they are breathing their last breath they will see we are all just trying to do the same thing on this planet - live and let live.

Thanks for reading.

Alan L. Bounville

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Speaking Out - A Reflection and a Future Aspiration

Dear Reader,


A Reflection -


Late last year, after fully emerging from my advocacy closet, I spoke at the Central Florida Light Up the Night for Equal Rights event, part of the national Join the Impact network of events fighting against LGBT discrimination and hate on a renewed national platform.


Due to one-on-one conversations I had with my family members before and after the November election that wrote more discrimination against LGBT people into the Florida Constitution, I decided I would not do as my family would have liked from those conversations. I would not drop ‘the issue’ once I learned how many of them voted against my rights. I decided to come out publicly sharing my story at the Light Up the Night for Equal Rights event so others could know my experience.

I was very angry at my sister for asking me not to bring up this topic at family holiday gatherings. I gave much thought to this request. My sister, who supports LGBT equality didn't feel family events were places for such conversations. Further, she believed no one in the family was going to change their minds, so talking about LGBT equality would only spur on a fiery debate, detracting from the joy of the holiday season.

Such contention drove a massive wedge between my family and me. During this time it was a shock to my system to hear my mother say in support of her position to deny me my rights, "We love both you and Joey (a partner I was with for six years who the family knew and loved). We bought him Christmas and birthday gifts all these years." It hurt equally when my sister said, "For the kids’ sake. Please don't talk about equality at Thanksgiving."


Gifts are not enough – and for the kids’ sake I hoped they would have had the opportunity to get involved and learn both sides of this vital debate. The kids are living in a time I believe, that will shape civil rights for LGBT people throughout their entire lives. They need to know what is happening around them because as continuing pressures mount, they should be well versed in this fight just as children in the 1960’s should have known the gravity and circumstances of desegregation or kids in the 1920’s should have been fully aware of the fight for woman’s rights or prior to that about the abolition of slavery.


The issues of our world don’t belong to adults. For the children’s sake they ought to be taught about the vast differences of the people around them and what they can do to help promote equality for all.


Though I still believe any place is a good place to talk about equal rights, I see now that an alternate approach to using holiday time to discuss our differences might have been for me to hold a family meeting outside of the ‘joy’ of the season. I could have invited the whole family to sit down at a table and share my concerns on the issue while listening to theirs. This still could have ended up like some of the crazed health care reform town hall debates as of late where the opposition rants instead of carries on reasoned debate. But, to get your opposition in a room for the hopes of reasoned discourse is always the most honorable of goals.


A Future Aspiration -


I have to be honest; the day will come when I am in another long term committed relationship. I want my partner (or should I start calling him my husband - I think I shall) and I to know our union is as secure as any of my family's marriages. And when the day comes when child must be parent, as is inevitably the case, I want my family to be in full support of my equal rights so I can be in full support of them as they wane. It may sound harsh right now, but I am not presently inclined to take care of my parents in their final years or if they were to become sick today because they do not support my rights. My current stance is, 'My husband and I are not going to lay a finger on my ailing parents. My parents are not going to move in with us and burden us without first supporting our protections for equal access to the over 1,000 protections they take for granted every day.'

I would never vote against the equal rights of my loved ones. And it angers me still that they did so to me. And of course, in every case their vote was based on their ‘faith’; meaning the beliefs they espouse which are based on interpretations of the Bible given to them by their religious leaders. It really is unfortunate churches don't have 'Reality Check Day' to bring in people of opposing views on subjects such as LGBT equality so parishioners can see that the message from the pulpit is only one viewpoint on these complex issues that affect millions of Americans.


And families like mine should make an effort on their own to really get to know LGBT people other than the LGBT people in their family. The elders in such families couldn’t look at other LGBT people as they do their own – as ‘kids.’ (Thought I am 32 years old, we all know how older family members tend to always see kids in the family as, well kids. Which, of course cycles back to the need to elevate kids to be more active participants in the family and encouraged to share ideas and information in regard to cultural diversity.)


As you may be able to tell, I can't say due to this divide I am especially close to the adults in my birth family (except my sister - I believe she and I are starting to see eye to eye). And their discriminatory views are the reason why our divide persists. I guess they are content they will go on to their eternal reward not having the relationship with me I have always hoped for. We'll see where the future leads. I hope my family ends up coming around and ending up on the right side of history. If they do, I’ll be sure to celebrate such news here.


----------------------------------------------


Here is a link to the speech I gave late last year. It was given after Thanksgiving and before Christmas:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GhKFTa6FO0


Thanks for reading.

Alan L. Bounville

PS I am working on another speech right now that will be submitted to the Equality Idol Contest for the National Equality March. If my three minute video is chosen, it will compete on You Tube as one of the top five videos submitted for the contest. The winner will be flown to Washington DC to speak at the National Equality March on October 11-12. Keep your eyes peeled if I get chosen to be in the top five. I’ll need as many votes as I can get to win. Once I complete the video I will upload it here first so you will get the sneak peek before voting opens.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Are Christians a Marginalized Group?

Dear Reader,


IBELIEVEJESUSISTHELORDANDSAVIORBECAUSETHEBIBLESAYSSOANDIMHAPPYASACHRISTIANILOVEMYCHRISTIANFAMILYMYCHURCHHOWMUCHLIKEMEEVERYONETHEREISHOWIKNOWWEFEELTHESAMEONTHEIMPORTANTISSUESHOWWEALLBELIEVEITISIMPROTANTTOPRESERVECHRISTIANTRADITIONANDBRINGTHISCOUNTRYBACKTOITSCONSERVATIVEROOTSSOTHATMOREPEOPLECANFEELASIDOIDONTWANTTODIEILOVETHELORDANDKNOWTHEREISSOMETHINGBETTERFORMEINHEAVENHEISMYROCKMYCOMFORTERMYEVERLASTERINGFATERHEHEALSMELOOKSAFTERMEIDONTWANTTOBEALOVEIWILLNEVERFORSAKEHIMFORWITHOUTHIMIAMBOUNDTOETERNALDAMNATIONIFEVERYONEWERECHRISTIANSTHEWORLDWOULDBEAWONDERFULPLACEHARMONYANDPEACHWOULDPREVAILIFALLPEOPLEWORSHIPEDGODTHEONLYGODCRIMEWOULDBENONEXISTANTICANTBEARTHETHOUGHTTHATIWILLNEVERSEEMYLOVEDONESAGAINONCETHEYDIEWHENIAMINHEAVENIWILLSPENDALLETERNITYWORSHIPINGTHELORDJESUSCHRISTANDWILLHAVEALLTHERICHESOFTHEKINGDOMIDONOTHAVEHEREONEARTHTHEREHASTOBESOMETHINGBETTERTHANTHISIWILLCONTINUETOTRUSTINTHELORDWITHALLMYHEARTANDLEANNOTUNTOMYOWNUNDERSTANDINGFORIAMSMALLINCOMPARISONTOGODMYVOICESERVESTOECHOHISWILLIWANTTOQUESTIONMYFAITHBUTAMTERRIFIEDINDOINGSOWILLALLOWSATANTOINFILTRATEMYTHINKINGANDLIFEANDIWILLSTRAYAWAYFROMTHELORDANDIDONTDAREDOTHATBECAUSE


IMAFRAID.


I grew up in the following churches:


St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Worcester, MA

Latter Rain Christian Fellowship, Ashland, MA

Discovery Church, Orlando, FL

Pine Castle United Methodist Church, Orlando, FL


I attended several other churches. Some I forget the names of. All were of the Christian faith and teachings.

So, what I say here comes from a place of someone who has, like many non-believers once believed.


My experience as a Christian was what you see above. It was like a jumble of thoughts and feelings of joy that covered up some serious fears I didn’t dare address. How could I? If any of my afeared questions were to be true, how would I come to grips with such a grave reality? I often wonder, is what I experienced more or less universal among believers or was I unusually paranoid? My lifelong doubt led to a long journey away from the church’s teachings allowing me to separate the clamor of thoughts from the underlying fears I had so I could deal with each of them appropriately to make my peace. That’s how I became an atheist.


A simple search on the subject of Christian doubt reveals frustrating references to scriptures such as blogger Cheryl Stotesbery’s explanation, “Perhaps the primary cause is Satan (Genesis 3:1-6).” A more formal search produces doubt eradication reasoning like that of the American Baptist Church USA (ABCUSA). The ABCUSA includes doubt in their vision statement, but only to say, “The heart of the gospel is God's redemptive love. In our life together, the world will see the power of forgiveness to overcome alienation, the strength of love to transform hate, the power of grace to break the bonds of guilt, the triumph of hope over despair, and the victory of faith over doubt.” Again to a nonbeliever, this is frustratingly cyclical.


I understand the logic that relates everything good, bad, holy and unjust to biblical scripture. That is the whole point of using the bible as the primary reference point for all topics of faith discussion. What I don’t understand - and really would like some comment on (other than what I pose below) – is how believers can overlook the drastic changes in believer’s opinions of scripture throughout history? I know what the retort is – ‘Just because certain people used scriptures like Genesis 9 25-27 to justify slavery, doesn’t make those people right in the eyes of god. There are several scriptures that make it clear slavery is a sin.’


OK, so doesn’t that bring up a vital point when examining the bible? If a book is contradicting itself, how can you trust any of it to be true? Of course, to this I have usually heard things like, ‘I’m not going to talk to you about this. You’re not going to change my mind so just drop it.’


For a long, long time I did just drop it. I thought, ‘We are never going to see eye to eye so it’s a waste.’ And then as I found my own voice I realized just dropping it is part of the cycle that needs to be broken.


I am not influenced by Satan when I question the logic of believers. I am not possessed. I can’t prove that of course – just as believers can’t prove I am anything but a normal, logical person.


When I hear Christians say they are a marginalized group, that their rights are being threatened – I am thoroughly confused. They won’t engage me in a civil conversation discussing questions that to a child would seem obvious. What goes through the mind of the believer when you question what seems worth questioning? Do they really feel resolved that they are right and I am wrong? Or is there a schism where part of them insists what they hold to be true is true so they can enjoy the afterlife, see their loved ones again and have something to hold to that makes sense of this life while part of them is too afraid to face the possibility that God may not exist?


As a non believer, I want believers and non believers alike to question me. I invite that. Talking with others can educate me and make me a better person. Isn’t that one of the tenets of learning? Why would it not be applied to matters of faith? Wouldn’t having civilized conversations with people and answering all their questions help a marginalized group become more main stream?


Question for you…


Why do you believe/not believe in God? Please post your reply below.


Thanks for reading.


Alan L. Bounville