November 22, 2008

Survivor Corps

I was contacted by a representative from an organization called "Survivor Corps" asking me if I could let me readers know about them. It is my pleasure to do so, especially since many of you are currently in survival mode after experiencing various types of trauma in your life.

Survivor Corps works with military personnel that has returned from combat duty. Here is an excerpt from their website:

Ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are creating a generation of veterans in the United States from all branches of the armed services and all 50 states who are struggling to overcome physical and psychosocial injuries. Most combat veterans convalescing in military hospitals across the country will survive physically, but getting on with their lives after returning home to their families and communities is proving a significant challenge for hundreds of thousands. Among the 1.6 million who have served since 2001, suicide is on the rise, as is unemployment and incidents of substance abuse and domestic violence.

The successful reintegration of returning service members is an issue that will have a long-lasting impact on American society, and may become the single defining struggle facing this new generation of veterans. Survivor Corps and its partners are determined to avoid the mistakes made when veterans returned from Vietnam, which resulted in tens of thousands of post-war suicides and over 200,000 men and women living on the streets.

To head off this tragic outcome, Survivor Corps will build peer support programs at the community level that will bring service members and veterans together for mutual support and encourage both individual responsibility and collective action to help others in need.

Survivor Corps is offering an alternative “treatment” that can be made readily available in all communities, regardless of proximity to traditional military or govern¬ment centers of support. Our approach is nimble enough to address the needs of individual survivors, while still broad enough to build a coalition of survivors and service providers working to effect long-term positive change.This new program will help the recovery and reintegration of hundreds of thousands of returning U.S. service members at a critical time for them and their country.

Regardless of how one feels about American policies regarding the deployment and engagement of our Armed Forces, the courage of those who volunteer to serve in the military deserve the right to return from combat and resume normal lives.

Click here to read more about Survivor Corps.

November 19, 2008

Stonewall 2.0?

That's a phrase that has been only very recently birthed, refering to the passing of Prop 8 in California as a catalyst for a new phase in LGBT activism, similar to how the Stonewall riot in 1969 birthed the initial phase. A post by Rex Wockner on his blog Wockner advances that thought and offers a substantial body of support for it. Here are some excerpts.

Was it really just six days ago that I wrote here: "I sense the power could be shifting, from the suit-and-tie professional activists with their offices, their access, their press releases and their catered receptions, to the grassroots."?

Was it really just six days ago that I was apparently the first person to utter the phrase "Stonewall 2.0"?

It was. But I am not alone now. Let's have a look at what influential people are saying six days later.

From Daily Kos:
What we're seeing now ... is brilliant. ... These nationwide protests are a watershed moment of sorts -- the moment when the gay community realized that it had the power to fight for change on its own, and didn't require any of its so-called, self-appointed 'leaders' to give them permission to engage.

From Wayne Besen:
The leaders of what is being billed as Stonewall 2.0 are not coming from large, established organizations. ... That this huge outpouring of organic outrage is not being channeled through official organizational channels has enormous implications. ... We are not the same movement we were prior to Nov. 4. ... Organizations that do not adjust to this new reality will wither and die. ... Anti-gay forces unleashed a ferocious storm with powerful winds of change that will only end with the sound of wedding bells."

We have now indeed entered Activism 4.0 or whatever the hell you want to call it. Our "leaders" let us down and you -- you, the average gay or lesbian citizen who just wants to have equal rights and maybe even get married -- you have seized power by using Facebook and your blogs, e-mail and Twitter, MySpace and text-messages to launch a new gay movement -- one that can get 25,000 gays and lesbians into the streets of sleepy San Diego on a Saturday morning, one that got 12,000 people into the streets of New York to protest something that happened in California.

From recently out comedian Wandy Sykes:
"When California passed Prop 8 ... I felt like I was being attacked, personally attacked, our community was attacked. I got married Oct. 25. You know, I don't really talk about my sexual orientation, I didn't feel like I had to, I was just living my life and, not necessarily in the closet, but I was just living my life. Everybody that knows me personally, they know I'm gay. And that's the way people should be able to live their lives. We shouldn't have to be standing out here demanding something that we automatically should have as citizens of this country. And I got pissed off. They pissed me off. I said, You know what, now I gotta get in your face. And that's what we all have to do now. They pissed off the wrong group of people. They have galvanized a community. We are so together now and we all want the same thing and we are not going to settle for less."

LGBT people should not have to settle for less of anything in this or any other society on this planet. This kind of outrage followed by sustained and passionate activism will be the single most important factor in making that a reality.

Click here to read the rest of the post on Wockner.

November 17, 2008

Psalms Of the Soul

A new feature we're bringing to Straight, Not Narrow is to share what LGBT churches and ministries are doing to reach out and make a positive impact in their communities.

One way to do that is with music, like Pastor Debbie George of Living Water Fellowship in Kenmore, WA (the Seattle area) has done.

Pastor Debbie, who just blessed our church by leading worship at our annual Fall Renewal, has a new website titled "Psalms Of the Soul" featuring her music. There are MP3's to sample and purchase.

Here is an excerpt of what Debbie says about her music:

I often will “sing my prayers” and some of my most profound moments happen when I just hang out with Jesus and my guitar in my den, and pour out whatever is on my heart and mind. I do not worry about how I sound, or if I phrased something right. I am just real and raw with Jesus. As I release my heart, my concerns, or whatever else is on my mind, I can hear Him singing back to me words of love.

I am always amazed at how strengthened I am after one of these times of worship and prayer. It is in this realm of worship and intimacy that my songs are birthed and flow out during corporate or small group worship.

This is the testimonial I contributed to her website:

We've had the pleasure of having Debbie play at our church and in our living room.In both settings, the Holy Spirit just flowed out of her. She is a passionate, anointed woman of God, and that is clearly the foundation of her music. The joy of the Lord is present when she pulls out her guitar and starts praising Him in song.

Debbie's songs are very passionate and folksy. I encourage you to check out the site and sample her music.

Psalms Of the Soul