Thursday, April 19, 2012

Boys Scouts of America Should Be Ashamed

It amazes me that in the year 2012, we here in the US are still seeing such blatant prejudice towards gay and lesbian (and all other LGBTQ) individuals. Last evening I received an e-mail from GLAAD informing me of a story/situation in Ohio regarding a woman who held the position of Tiger Den Leader to her son's cub scout troop. She volunteered for the position when no one else stepped up, registered with BSA and met with the group once a week and also for weekend community service projects. Her family was open from the beginning about being a nontraditional family. This woman, Jennifer, and her wife have 4 children, and they are active in their community.

Recently, she was removed of her position as Den Leader and Boy Scouts of America didn't even try to hide why. In a statement issued to her, she was told that because of her sexual orientation she does not "meet the high standards membership that the BSA seeks". Jennifer and her partner are hurt and saddened that one of the most prominent and well known youth organizations in the country, that prides itself on developing good character and leadership skills, would go against their own principles and commit this act of bigotry.

What bothers me about this issue is that this woman is making the effort to be involved in her son's life by providing him with opportunities to grow and learn through an extra curricular activity, and then goes even one step further and volunteers to be the troop leader, and in return is treated this way. No parent - gay, straight, transgender, etc. - should be punished for doing the right thing and involving their child in an activity that will further develop their character. And certainly no parent should be punished for being a responsible parent and recognizing that someone needs to take on the role of "Den Leader", and volunteer to do so.

What does BSA think? That a gay Den Leader starts off a meeting by announcing to the young 'cubs', "Welcome, everyone! I am gay, and you should be too! Let's talk about very gay things and perhaps I can turn you gay before the end of the night!" NO! In fact, this woman has the support of every single other parent of a child in this troop. The parents are outraged and stand behind her in solidarity. They respect and support Jennifer and appreciate her having taken on the role when no one else could offer up that much of their own time and resources.

I understand that Boy Scouts of America is a private organization, free to have whatever rules and regulations they choose. However, I think that unless they change this outdated and prejudiced policy, they are going to see participation slowly drop, funding decrease, and animosity grow toward the group itself. (I'm not dumb - I understand how closely intertwined politics and religion are with BSA, but I would still bet that we see those things happen in the next ten years.)

I was a Girl Scout for 12 years, from the age of 6-18. I then went on to work at a Girl Scout resident camp. Girl Scouts of America has updated their policies. They accept gay youth and gay volunteers into their organization. They recognize that by doing this, they are telling the public, "We don't judge people based off their sexual orientation!" and "We understand that everyone has something to offer!" and "Just because you're gay doesn't mean that you would lead this troop any differenly than a straight person!" They have received some backlash of course, from very conservative or religious groups, however the majority of the response has been extremely positive.

Does anyone remember the video that went viral a few months ago - it was a pre-adolescent girl ranting about how The Girl Scouts of Colorado allowed a young boy who prefers to present himself as a girl (a gender non conforming child) to be a member of a GS troop. She urged the public to protest this by not buying Girl Scout cookies this year. Let me tell you - for the next few days after that video went viral, my Facebook news feed was filled with people stating that they planned to buy EXTRA cookies in response to this girl's ridiculousness. I think society is coming to terms with the fact that change is on it's way. It's happening now. There's no stopping it, no matter how hard some may try.

When my 88 year old closed-minded, semi-racist (but getting better every day!) homophobic, socially conservative, former user of the "n" word & the word "faggot", and rural area-residing grandfather can put his arm around me in front of my grandmother's casket on the night of her viewing and quietly tell me, "You know, she loved you grandkids no matter how you chose to live your life. No matter what lifestyle you chose or who you decided to love, she loved you all just the same." When that can happen at his age, with his deep-seated opinions and morals, then I know things are truly changing. I can only imagine how many other grandfathers and grandmothers, and anyone really, around the country are going through similar processes in their heads. Those are the only words we've ever exchanged about my sexual orientation, and those few sentences confirmed my suspicions that my grandparents, towards the end of their lives, began to accept and embrace the way the world is morphing.

All in all, people in this country need to quit resisting change. Easier said than done, I understand that. But the only real constant in this society is change itself. The Boy Scouts of America needs to reverse the discriminatory action they took against Jennifer Tyrrell and immediately reinstate her membership and role within their organization.

In the future, even if their policies change, I'm not sure I'd allow a son of mine to be a part of such a bigoted organization. I plan on teaching the future-him to accept others, to do his best to not judge anyone, and to be respectful of anyone and everyone. I can appreciate that the BSA has positively affected thousands (millions?) of boys in the US, and I have many friends who were deeply influenced by being involved in Boy Scouts. But I want nothing to do with an organization that practices and encourages discrimination.

Here's a link to the petition. I hope that one day our children or grandchildren will look back on instances like this and say, "Wow. I can't imagine things used to be like this. How crazy is that? What's the big deal about gay people anyway?"

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Why I Love Valentine's Day

This morning on my way to work I checked Facebook on my phone. Among the statuses of "Happy Valentine's Day!" and posted photos of flowers, candy and balloons that friends found when they arrived at work, there were just as many "Happy Singles Awareness Day" and "I hate this holiday" statuses. It made me sad, because I'm pretty sure majority of those people are single today and wish that they weren't. I have been that person before, plenty of times! So I understand. But, when I was single on past Valentine's Days, I wasn't bitter about it.

When I was a kid I loved Valentine's Day. Despite the hassle of having to go out the night before, probably after two different sport practices and a Girl Scout meeting, my mom would pile my sister and I into the car and take us to Happy Harry's (awesome drug store in the Delaware area, now bought out by Walgreens - Boo.) and let us select our boxes of Valentines to share with classmates. We'd go home and stay up late, filling out each card, smudging names and my mom, scrambling to find class lists to ensure that we didn't leave out any classmates.

My mom always left early for work when we were kids. She was out of the house by 6:30am. But no matter what, when Kelsey and I woke up, there would be a small, heart shaped box of Russell Stover's chocolates waiting for us on the counter, with a card in a purple or pink envelope. As a kid, this was such a highlight and made me feel so special. Some years my mom would plan something awesome. I remember a few years coming home from school with Kelsey to a note on the front door with a rhyming message, a clue to lead us to another part of the house. Kelsey and I would embark on a Valentine's themed scavenger hunt, ending with us finding stuffed puppy dogs with heart tags on their collars in the dryer, or heart shaped balloons tied to our bedposts with a ring pop tied to the ribbon.

In college, I always received a package in the mail from her, filled with Nicco Candy Hearts, Red Hots, and a heart shaped Reese's Peanut Butter cup, and a Valentine's Card with a $20 bill, my mom's handwriting scrawled: "Use this to get something good for dinner with your friends! Love you to the moon and back! Mom" Growing up, Valentine's Day wasn't so much a day to celebrate a romance, but a day to celebrate the people who you love the most.

Another status I read this morning from a friend stated that she wasn't celebrating Valentine's Day with her loved one because they don't support corporate greed on such a commercialized holiday. I can respect that, but don't we all give into corporate greed somewhat at Christmastime? Buying our zillions of square feet of wrapping paper and standing in long lines to pay for our carts full of presents. Yes, corporate America benefits from that, but for people like myself, I'm just happy to have found a gift that I think a loved one will smile as they open, because it's from me and I thought to buy it for them. Commercialism sucks, but it's part of our lives. And if someone made a buck off the fact that my mom bought some chocolate, or Hallmark benefited from my mom's thoughtful choices of cards for Kelsey and I for years, then I'm okay with that. Because those are things I've never forgotten, memories that are seared into my being and probably helped make me who I am.

One of my favorite parts of Valentine's Day has always been making my own Valentines and sending them to the people I love the most. The last few years I've been so busy with this whole "being an adult in the real world" thing that I haven't had much time to work as hard as I used to. But, I still make a point to tell those who are closest to me how much I love them. Hell, when I was looking at flowers on, I was considering which bouquet would be prettiest for my niece... let alone my significant other! I've always seen this holiday as a day to celebrate love in all forms of the word.

Others say that you should show love every day of the year, not just Valentine's Day. But, truth be told, we do get wrapped up in daily life. Jobs, dog, kids, activities, classes... I see Valentine's Day as a day to sit back and reflect on the people you appreciate in your life and the people who love you despite your flaws and shortcomings. Valentine's Day is beyond the realm of romantic love, at least to me.

So yes, tonight Hillary and I have plans to make our way over to Brookline for some yummy sushi, perusing our favorite book store, and then finishing the night with frozen yogurt. Yes, we will hold hands and express our love today more than we usually do. Today is a great reminder for us to slow down, enjoy a night together and reflect on the love we have for each other. But, If I were single today, I would be just as lucky and just as happy. My first thought when I woke up this morning was to text my mom and my sister to tell them that I love them. I got to work and sent a quick email to a few people who I love and who have affected my life in a positive way.

And, here I am on the internets, to express my love for all of you who have left me kind comments over the years, who showed "tough love" when I needed it, who grieved with me over losses and who have celebrated my triumphs and my happiness. Thank you, I love you, and Happy Valentine's Day from a girl who considers everyone in her life her valentine.

Monday, December 19, 2011

JD Vernon

Breathtaking. As I dive deeper into the past of Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, I am rewarded with these finds daily. It's as if I can't read enough articles about him. Listening to him sing in my ear all day does not satiate me. I'm enamored with his music, his voice, his fingers on the piano keys. It's been a long, long time since I felt this close to a musical artist. These rare song finds, sometimes listed under pseudonyms or various band names, make me feel like I've struck gold when I come across them. That makes the sound that much sweeter, that much more clutching.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to One Safe Place.

Today marks 5 years since the start of this blog. I know I don't post as often as I should, and I can't make any promises, but I'm hoping to start posting entries a little more often.

Hope you are all well!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I want to comment on the heinous new/grand jury report that was announced on Sunday. Growing up in Delaware, a few hours from Penn State, I know a good number of people who are connected to the university. I have many friends, including a good friend from high school, who graduated from Penn State. I also know a lot of people through the Y who live in the State College area. This child sex abuse scandal is really hitting home for me... it's showing up all over my FB newsfeed, and is being discussed all around me. And I'm having a really hard time hearing what some of these people are saying. The urgent jump to defend the University and Joe Paterno seems a little strange to me. My friend S (who lives and works in the State College area) put it best in her status on Facebook last night:

I guess at this point, and maybe because I did not attend school or grow up here, but I feel pride is not an emotion that should have a place in our immediate discussions. Perhaps soon, but for now, I worry less about Joe Paterno and Penn State and more about how those innocent children and their families feel when they hear or see somebody defending or supporting the institution and those involved.

That's exactly how I feel as well. Maybe its the social work/child-centered part of me that makes me feel this way. It was announced this morning that Joe Paterno will be retiring at the end of the season (the man is 84 years old anyway). While I understand how many are feeling that "this is not how it was supposed to happen", I think that entirely too much attention is being given to him. Students at Penn State are rioting, with picket signs and everything! Calling for him to stay. I'm in no place to judge whether or not Joe Paterno should stay or go. I do have my opinion of whether I believe he acted right or wrong, legally and morally - I think that yes, he acted legally correctly IN THE MINIMALIST OF WAYS, as in, he could have done so much more. But morally... morally, he was 100% in the wrong. No questions. And he will have to live with that for the rest of his life. He could have saved a handful of kids (or more... the number of victims has doubled since Sunday, with more potential victims coming forward everyday since the news was announced) from the heartache and horror of sexual abuse, had he initially gone to the police when the situation was presented to him.

Yes, I do believe that Jerry Sandusky is the abuser, the bad guy, the evil one. But, those who knew something was going on and did not go directly to police? Curley, Schultz, Paterno, the janitor who witnessed the shower incident, the superior he reported it to who kept his mouth shut, and especially the eyewitness, the graduate assistant MaQueary. Those people are the ones who are going to have to look at themselves in the mirror every day for the rest of their lives and see the reflection of someone who KNEW, who KNEW and allowed a grown man to abuse his power and status for many years and corrupt innocent children, altering their lives forever. There is one question I just keep asking myself. How did not a single person go to the police with this information? I also wonder just how many people knew... it had to be a lot more than just those 5 or 6 men.

So, with so many people not going to the police with such a pressing, devastating, life altering matter, one has to question, why? As I posted on my Facebook status, with a link to an interesting article in the NY Times today, the sense of secrecy must have been fueled by something. The urge to protect the prestige of the program, the money flow (Penn State brings in millions of dollars each year from football games), salaries and pensions, and the good name that Penn State has in our country and with college football fans. The 'Grandfather of College Athletics' as JoePa is often referred to, obviously wanted minimal tarnish to his program's name, a program that he has been in charge of for 45 years. And covering it up at the cost of children and their innocence is beyond me...totally beyond me.

Everyone is so worked up about it. People have all these opinions and, as with most high profile sex abuse scandals, the attention is being thrown to the wrong places. In my opinion, these nameless boys that have come forward and bravely given information about their abuser are the ones who deserve our attention and our support. Not Penn State Athletics, and certainly not the Coach-God who knew that it was happening and did not do enough to stop it.

How do these boys feel right now? Yes, their abuser will receive punishment for his crimes. But, showing support for the man who didn't do enough, who could have done so much more... that's embarrassing. The message being sent it, "It wasn't okay for Jerry Sandusky to abuse you, but it was okay for Joe Pa to know about it and let it happen".

The least that can be done is to turn the support those nameless boys who have come forward. They are the victims.

Not an 84 year old football coach who may be forced to retire from his job.

Support the real victims in this case.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Thought I'd post a playlist of songs I've been into lately. Rach - if you read this, don't download any of them until after you get my package!

As of 11/2

Iron & Wine - Flightless Bird, American Mouth
Birdy - Skinny Love (yes, this is a Bon Iver song...people get so upset that anyone covers Bon Iver. I can see why, as this is the only girl I've ever heard do any of his songs justice.)
James Vincent McMorrow - Higher Love
The Middle East - Blood
Foster the People - Helena Beat
The Head and the Heart - Down in the Valley
Bon Iver - I Can't Make You Love Me
Noah and the Whale - 5 years Time
Rihanna - We Found Love
Matt & Kim - Good for Great
Billy Bragg & Wilco - At My Window Sad and Lonely
Bon Iver - Holocene
Ray LaMontagne - Jolene

Kind of reflects my mood when I'm actually listening to music these days - mellow stuff for while I'm at work getting things done. Oh, except for the Rihanna song. That's just for dancing in my chair when I'm alone in my office.

This has to be one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard. For some reason, the soft saxophone (or clarinet, can't tell - any instrument inclined people out there?) during the buildup of the chorus stirs up really deep emotions inside. I still get chills when I listen to it. And the music video is just as beautiful:

Wonderful song - can't wait to see these guys live someday:

Another great tune - it picks up about halfway through:

If anyone actually reads this anymore, I'd love to hear what you've been listening to lately.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Update: September 13, 2011

I got a new job... It's with the Graduate School of Education at a university in Cambridge. I'm excited to be working at a university and really looking forward to jumping back into research. Also, we are moving. If there was a contest over who could move the most times in a 12 month period, I would win. But, we're going to live in Cambridge, in the middle of all the action. 3 blocks from the T, and a 15 minute bus ride from Harvard Sq, so getting to work will be super easy. Also, our apartment is enormous. It's almost twice the size of our 430 sq. ft. current apartment.

I am saddened and disappointed by the passing of the Gay Marriage Ban by the House and Senate in the state of North Carolina (to be put on the May 2012 polls for a public vote). I have a feeling that I know how that is going to end up.

Sadly, I know many gay and lesbian families in North Carolina - I lived there for 5 years. It's heartbreaking to see how this is going to affect them. This amendment would also ban domestic partners from using each others' health insurance benefits. Sickening.

To end this on a good note - I joined a women's lacrosse league and a book club in order to start meeting more people in Boston and to get back in shape. They both start next week... I'm incredibly out of shape, as I haven't exercised regularly since rugby ended in the spring of 2010. It should be fun... I hope.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I am in constant amazement of the capabilities of my iPhone camera. I often carry only my phone if I don't feel like lugging my camera bag because I know I'll be able to use it and get results that I am pleased with.

There are a ton of camera apps out there that enhance photos and while I do agree that a little photo touching up is certainly acceptable, it really seems like a lot of times iPhone photos are almost enhanced too much. (I am completely guilty of this sometimes!)

Hillary gifted me an app tonight that I'd been considering buying... a friend of hers at work uses it and recently submitted some of his photos into a contest. It's a very interactive app, and not one you would use to whip out your camera and snap that quick photo of someone doing something funny. It's more of a "let's test out these different lenses/films/flashes." Instead of post-processing your phone photos, you're applying "settings" beforehand. This app made me want to go out and test everything out in different lighting, different surroundings... it made me feel like I had a new camera! Which is silly because... dun duh-duhh! It's a $0.99 application on a phone.

Oh well. At least it's making me feel happy.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

First Collection of Diana+ Photos

When my beautiful, Parisian Diana F+ was shattered on St. Patrick's Day by a drunken man who was only trying to help, a little piece of my heart shattered with it. When the camera broke, the film escaped and I watched it fly up in to the air, exposing everything to the light. Photos of Kylie. Photos of Sydney. Photos of Boston. Gone to the daylight. I was devastated. It was my very first roll of film I'd loaded into the camera.

So, the night before my birthday, the day we moved... I was beyond SHOCKED to receive as an early birthday present from Hillary - The Diana F+ Deluxe Kit! It was gorgeous... I took out each piece and examined them all separately, reading the separate manuals for each lens. All of the little pieces and accessories were like magic, the excitement was like Christmas Morning as a 9 year old.

I've been shooting with the manual, plastic camera for a few months now. Photography is something I love, and the feeling of picking up photos from a developer takes me back to days when we all used film instead of digital cameras. Getting that little sealed envelope back was more exciting than watching your photos load onto your computer.

Here is a collection of my favorites so far: