Friday, September 30, 2022

Please Stop Wearing These 3 Things (at any age)

More great non-fashion advice that greatly affects the way you look and feel...

by Courtney Carver

I’ve learned so much from simplifying my closet and dressing with a small micro capsule wardrobe. While I’ve learned what best fits my body and my lifestyle, most of the lessons have nothing to do with clothing.

I typically steer away from making recommendations on what you should wear, but feel strongly that none of us (at any age) need to wear these three things ever again.

Please Stop Wearing These 3 Things

1. Stop wearing the guilt of your past.

Guilt and regret about the past aren’t serving your present. In fact, because of that guilt, you aren’t fully enjoying your current life. Whether it is guilt about letting go of something in your closet that you spent too much on, or guilt about a past relationship or anything in between, you have paid enough. You’ve paid with your money, time, attention and emotion. You can stop paying now. Let go, apologize, forgive and choose to live free of guilt and regret.

2. Stop wearing the pressure to prove yourself.

I rarely bought clothes because I actually needed more clothes. I had plenty. Instead I purchased clothing to feel a certain way and to be perceived a certain way … to prove myself. I wanted to feel smart, beautiful and loved. I wanted other people to think I was those things too.

I tried to prove who I was by what I wore and by what I accomplished. The problem was that there was always more to prove and eventually I forgot who I was in the process.

If you have to prove yourself to people you love, that isn’t love. If you struggle to prove yourself at work, maybe you aren’t doing the right work. If you don’t believe me, just stop for a while. Stop pushing and proving and wishing that people would see you the way you think you need to be seen to succeed. Instead, let them see you for you.

Once you stop proving yourself, you can be yourself.

3. Stop wearing the weight of other people’s expectations and judgements.

Giving myself permission to let go of my need to meet other people’s expectations or to feel any kind of way based on judgements (good or bad) helps me to trust myself and allows me to love my life regardless of outside feedback. I’m not good or bad or right or wrong because of what anyone else thinks. I can’t control what they think and I’m not going to change myself trying.

It’s a relief to know that I can love you and not care what you think about me at the same time.

When you stop wearing the weight of other people’s expectations and judgements, you’ll be light.

Wearing these things is wearing you down. You can stop now. Please stop.

Wear the clothes you want to wear. Live the life you want live.
  Be you.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Award Evening

Virginia Commonwealth University 


Because of my activism and work on several LGBTQ Boards, I am being honored this evening as one of "VCU Alumni Stars".  See Tuesday's Post Outing Oneself.

There will be photos next week and a full report on a full day of meeting the lead up to the award program this evening.  

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

What American and Iranian Theocrats Have in Common

From veiling to abortion, Iran’s theocrats seek to control women’s bodies, just as U.S. Republican theocrats do.

(Thanks Velma for sending this) 

On Saturday, hard line Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi announced that his government would pull out the stops to crush the popular unrest sweeping the country that was sparked by the death in custody of Mahsa “Zhina” Amini, 22, a Kurdish young woman who was arrested by the morals police for wearing tight jeans. Protesters allege that she was beaten so badly that it led to her death. Hundreds of persons have been arrested, more than 700 in northern Iran alone.

The protests in Iran are not only about compulsory veiling but about compulsory everything. Veiling has become a symbol for the government’s determination to control the bodies and private lives of citizens. That determination is behind a Draconian law passed last fall that severely restricts access to abortion. If you can’t tell whether I’m talking about Iran or Texas, it is because both are in the grip of theocracies.

The theocratic government of Iran wants to control the bodies and personal lives of women, just as Republican lawmakers in the United States do, with their anti-abortion stance. The Republican Party has come to be so tightly intertwined with the evangelical Christian community of the Bible Belt that it is a theocratic party itself, similar in some ways to the Principalists or hard liners in Iran. Just as Iranian hard liners are hostile to democracy, fearful that the people cannot be trusted to vote for the theologically correct position, so US Republicans have increasingly turned against democracy. Evangelicals are only 17% of the US population now, and are rapidly shrinking, so the only way they can impose their religious precepts on the rest of the population is through minority rule– enabled by gerrymandering, voter suppression, and the legalization of dark money politics. The US wealthy for the most part have thrown in with the evangelicals to get tax breaks, since they can fly their wives to blue states or abroad for unwanted pregnancies and do not care what happens to the little people.

Just as Mahsa Amini was arrested by morals police in Iran, Brittney Poolaw and 1200 other women over the past fifteen years have been arrested in the United States for having a miscarriage, even where fetal failure to develop has been noted by medical examiners as a possible cause for the miscarriage.

Once the state legislates intervention in your body, you are not allowed to clothe it with tight jeans or to terminate an ectopic pregnancy without the state’s permission, even if that puts your life in danger. Once a political party becomes an instrument of theocracy, it feels a compulsion to impose its theology on everyone. In liberal (with a small ‘l’) political thought, which includes parliamentary conservatism, law is an expression of the majority of the elected representatives of the people. One can dislike a law, but a classic liberal must admit the validity of the law if it derived from that majority.

Theocracy is profoundly anti-liberal. Theocrats believe society must be governed in accordance with God’s will as they interpret it. Many theocrats are not clerics. Many of them wear tailored business suits. From a theocratic point of view, Roe v. Wade was illegitimate even though it was the ruling of a majority of a Supreme Court that had been appointed and voted in by the elected president and Senate. Roe was illegitimate despite being the law of the land because it violated God’s law, the theocrats said. They like to substitute themselves for “God.” Moreover, it had been rooted in a legal theory of the constitutional right to individual privacy, a theory that had itself to be razed to the ground if illiberal theocracy were going to prevail. Theocracy does not recognize a right to privacy, i.e., to individuals’ control over their bodies.

The office of Iran’s clerical leader operates under the theory of the “Guardianship of the Jurisprudent” (Velayat-e faqih). The origins of this ideology, adumbrated by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (d. 1989), lay in Shiite Muslim canon law concerning widows, orphans and other individuals in society who needed a male guardian but had no family member to serve in that capacity.

Earlier religious jurists had stipulated that a qualified cleric should step in to fill this role of guardian. Khomeini expanded this conception, arguing that the cleric is the guardian of all the state’s subjects. All of them, including free adult males, are by this theory wards of the state where clerics control the state. Ideally, the guardian would be a vicar of the Prophet Muhammad, but Twelver Shiites believe that the Prophet’s line ended with the Twelfth Imam, who went into occultation and would one day emerge to restore the world to justice. The return of the Twelfth Imam, the Mahdi, for Shiites is analogous to the Christian belief in the return of Christ.

Until that time, Khomeini argued, clerics should rule in the stead of the Twelfth Imam, since their study of the Qur’an and of the sayings and doings of the twelve Imams made it likely that they would do best at approximating the decisions he would take if he were present.

Likewise, more that 3/4s of Republican evangelicals want to declare the United States a “Christian” state, essentially repealing the First Amendment with its Establishment Cause. They want to control people’s bodies in the U.S, even if they have to do it undemocratically, just as the ayatollahs have the same goal in Iran. Iran has the Guardianship of the Jurisprudent. America’s Red States have the Guardianship of the Pastor and Priest. In neither case are we autonomous adults. We are wards of the state, reduced to being juveniles in custody.

Because of evangelical Republican rule of some US states, we already have elements of the Christian Republic of America, to mirror the Islamic Republic of Iran.

My Note - Wake up before it too late!

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Outing Oneself

I grew up in a very small town in rural southern Virginia.  My grandparents, who raised me, ran the town's general store and I delivered to almost all of the town's homes the state's daily newspaper. Needless to say, everyone knew my mother, and grandparents and by extension me. My grandfather was the town's mayor.

The county had one large central high school and I was active in sports, (football) and many club activities. It was a wonderful environment and I fondly look back on so many treasured memories.  

I outed myself to my high school classmates at our 50th class reunion attending as Rhonda. It was rewarding and an overall wonderful experience. it is written up on the blog here. High School Reunion - The After Glow.

A few years later, Rhonda attend VCU's Class Reunion and receive an "Alumni 50th Anniversary Pin and Certificate".  Since, I have been elected to VCU's Engineering School Foundation Board and have spoken several times at events there including being the keynote speaker for the 2022 Lavender graduation. Because of my activism and work on several LGBTQ Boards, I am being honored this week in a group ceremony.

VCU sent out a press release and I forwarded it to my town's newspaper (see below). I do not have family left in Southern Virginia, but many friends and former work acquaintances that will likely remember me. I guess this completes my early life's hometown outing. 

For those of you that think that family, friends, and acquaintances will abandon you, think again.  See again Saturday's blog post "Those That Matter..."



Monday, September 26, 2022

Liz Cheney Wins the GOP’s Manhood Contest

Standing firm on principle, and doing the right thing even when there may be a high cost to doing so, are qualities anyone should aspire to — no matter whether they are male, female or reject binary gender categories.

By John F. Harris 7/7/2022

America, many conservatives believe, is facing a masculinity crisis. The general drift of modern culture, the argument goes, has merged with the anti-patriarchal agenda of the radical left to create a climate in which boys and men are made to feel that there is something inherently suspect or even shameful about their sex.

Liz Chaney
Little wonder, asserted Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri in a widely publicized address last year, that many men have lost their self-confidence and no longer represent “the traditional masculine virtues — things like courage, and independence and assertiveness.”

Hawley’s speech did not take note of how thoroughly masculine virtues, under this definition, have been diluted within his own Republican Party during the Trump era.

Nor did he cite the figure who is the most vivid counterexample. The person who is the most credible answer to the GOP’s manhood problem is a woman: Liz Cheney.

Wyoming’s lone congresswoman is widely loathed by acolytes of Donald Trump. Certainly Hawley has not sought to join her in confronting the former president or demanding accountability for the ways his claims of election fraud led to the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. But it would be hard to argue that Cheney does not represent “courage, and independence and assertiveness.”

Many people will be uncomfortable viewing these admirable qualities through the prism of gender. Standing firm on principle, and doing the right thing even when there may be a high cost to doing so, are qualities anyone should aspire to — no matter whether they are male, female or reject binary gender categories altogether.


Sunday, September 25, 2022

Political Week In Review 9-25-2022


Some of the migrants who arrived in Martha's Vineyard last week told NPR they were told they'd be flown to Boston where they could get expedited work papers, but that's not what they found upon arrival in Martha's Vineyard. Instead, local churches, homeless shelters and other aid groups had to scramble to accommodate them because they weren't given any notice of their arrival.

Migrants on Martha's Vineyard flight say they were told they were going to Boston
Tallahassee-based immigration attorney Elizabeth Ricci explains there's a "good faith argument" to be made that luring the migrants onto planes with the promise of jobs makes them crime victims. And that means they could automatically qualify for a visa, she said.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Friday, September 23, 2022

Mona Varonica Campbell - Part 2

We Spoke To India’s First Plus-Size Trans Model About Inclusivity In Fashion

She is beautiful - An Amazing Story...

Mona Varonica Campbell

Part one - I Love A Success Story - Mona Varonica Campbell

It’s remarkable that Campbell, from being born in the wrong body was able to transform her life to one where she is an icon of body positivity. So what has given her this ability to break conventions when it comes to body image? Campbell follows a simple formula here

I love and respect my unique body. This gives me all the confidence I need.”

Thursday, September 22, 2022

A 10-year-old Trans Model

Noella McMaher, who has 2 trans parents, already a New York Fashion Week vet

Noella McMaher

By Dana Kennedy August 24, 2022

A 10-year-old transgender girl from Chicago will already be a runway veteran when she takes to the catwalk next month at New York Fashion Week — with plans to walk in Paris next year.

Noella McMaher, whose parents both identify as transgender and who has an infant sibling referred to as a “theybie,” made her debut at NYFW in February as one of several trans and non-binary models walking for the Trans Clothing Company. She was the youngest person to ever take part in the event.

Noella has a lively presence on social media and what seems to be a thriving home life with her parents, Dee McMaher, 35, and Ray McMaher, 32, both of whom were born biological females but now identify as non-binary.

“Noella’s first show was Chicago Fashion Week at 7 years old,” her parent, Dee, told Forbes earlier this year. “An out trans teen told her about open auditions, and she watched YouTube videos to prepare. She booked two designers at her very first audition. Since then she has been in two Chicago Fashion Weeks and a handful of smaller shows.”

Dee told The Post Wednesday that Noella didn’t like wearing boy clothes even as a toddler and often acted out. Dee said they eventually took her to a gender clinic and she came into her own once she felt freed up to be a girl.

“Our job as parents for all three of our children is to embrace their individual needs,” Dee told The Post. ” With Noella we have a child who has known who she was from very early on.”

Neither of Noella’s parents pushed her to be a girl, Dee said.

“My spouse and I probably own two pairs of shoes between us,” she said. “We’re not into fashion at all. Noella is the opposite. She loves glitter and makeup and clothes. We wouldn’t even know how to encourage that kind of femininity.”

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Feminine Differential - Overt vs Covert

Overt” means “done or shown openly or plainly apparent” in the Oxford English dictionary. This can refer to all sorts of actions which are done in plain sight or with clear manifestations. Overt activities have no other representations other than what they appear to be.

“Covert,” on the other hand, means the exact opposite of overt – not openly acknowledged or displayed. Hidden or displayed unintentionally.

At SCC Convention '97
Photo by Mariette Pathy Allen
Most crossdressers make every effort to be covert and not mistaken for what they are. As Cyrsti's Condo described it:

First there are the clothes and the makeup, then comes the occasional trips to test the public's eye and those turn out to be the simplest part.

For years I hid behind a big wig, long sleeves, and high neck tops in a created, over-the-top, feminine facade.
 Although stylish, I was the caricature of a man who was crossdressing. Women generally did not dress that way; then or now. However in public, I thought I was being covert (no one is noticing) in my efforts to pass. I was thinking I was blending-in. Likely the only place I did blend-in, was at a crossdressing convention. 

I am not describing my actions then as adverse, it was part of a necessary growth process that allowed me to accept the fact, I am transgender. Where are you in the growth process?

It does not take many trips to the mall to fully comprehend that being a feminine person is both complex and simple. Complex attitude - Simple presentation.

Being in the real world - April  2022

I am "ma'am" almost 100% of the time without the over-the-top feminine facade now. (Ma'am- a term of respectful or polite address used for a woman.). I love it.

My hair is shoulder length and on days I don't feel like styling it, I wear a ponytail. My daily uniform, jeans or shorts, t-shirt, and sneakers. All have a subtle feminine differential. This look represents how I feel on the inside not necessarily how I am desiring to be perceived. Acceptance comes from being comfortable and relaxed with ones internal self. 
There is freedom that comes from being overt in one's actions; a wonderful feminine differential. Revelling in the liberation of being who I am.  


Tuesday, September 20, 2022

"Friends of Dorothy" A Cruise Ship Euphemism

According to CruseCretic: 

On Ship Engagement Party 

The term “Friends of Dorothy“ is still in use on some cruise ships, although modernization efforts have put what these meet-ups are more front and center. "Friends of Dorothy" is an old euphemism for people who identify as LGBTQ+: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and all other members of the queer community. With more openness around sexuality now, the term Friend of Dorothy has become merely quaint, and LGBTQ+ events at sea are labeled with clear language on most major cruise lines.

In case you do not get the connection, The term Friends of Dorothy reaches back more than half a century, coming into popular use in the 1950s as gays and lesbians developed a connection with the musical icon Judy Garland, whose relentless spirit epitomized camp and glamour, while her rather tragic life circumstances mirrored their own struggles in everyday life.

Garland's most famous role – as the ever-optimistic and wistful Dorothy in the 1939 classic "The Wizard of Oz" – gave gays and lesbians a "secret" code word that they could use to refer to themselves. At cocktail parties or company gatherings where one could not be comfortably "out and proud," gays would inquire discreetly of each other, "Are you a Friend of Dorothy?" The admission of "I am, too!" would likely lead to fast bonding in an age when gay bars were clandestine and, in some cases, dangerous.


The daily "Celebrity Today" is the ship's news letter of ship's events, port information, and a hour-by-hour schedule. It provides a detail "all that is happening" for your planning. It was left every evening by the cabin stewart and was part of the ship's phone app.

Royal Caribbean / Celebrity has moved in the 21st century and listed an everyday, "LGBTQ+ Meet and Greet"; 8 pm at the Martini Bar. "Friends of Dorothy" was no longer to be seen. 

I attend most every evening and made friends with Teresa, her traveling companion and several others. Eight o'clock was a great time; after dinner and before the late theater show. Plans could be discussed for the next day and several nights we attend the delightful late theater show together.       

Overall my cruise was super LGBTQ+ friendly. How so, you may ask? One evening on my upper deck walk after dinner, I wandered into an engagement party. On the top deck's jumbotron, the message read "Marry Me?"  A gay couple's engagement party that was orgistrates by the ship's staff. Champaign was served to everyone present. Also music, dancing and smiles / tears were prevalent.

In many ways we have come a long way! No more dated euphemisms. 

The Engaged couple with the Ship's Crew Members



Monday, September 19, 2022

Now Christians Are Targeting Women Who Wear Pants

This preacher exhorts men to toss their wives' pants in a fire because that's crossdressing

By Bil Browning August 24, 2022

Christian hate-preacher Duncan Urbanek condemns all pants-wearing women:

If you're a woman, and you own any pants, throw them away. Light them on fire. If you're a man, and your wife has pants, throw them away. And if she yells at you, so be it."

Marlene Dietrich disembarking from the SS Europa
in 1933 wearing a suit.
The French police had threatened
 to arrest her if she wore menswear in Paris
*The religious right has celebrated the overturn of Roe v. Wade, but their obsession with controlling women’s bodies knows no satisfaction.

Now a far-right preacher known for his vile rants about the LGBTQ community is calling for men to burn their wives’ pants because, he says, it’s just a form of crossdressing.

Brother Duncan Urbanek spread the love of God by using anti-gay slurs and encouraging men to destroy their spouses’ possessions.

 Urbanek is a member of the Stedfast Baptist Church, one of the most vicious anti-LGBTQ hate groups in the nation. Church leaders have called for the execution of gay men and publicly celebrated tragedies that killed members of the LGBTQ community.

“People want to get so riled up… Yeah! F*gs are an abomination. God hates ’em,” he begins. “Well, didn’t it just say if you’re a crossdresser, you’re an abomination too?”

“Now obviously it’s not as bad as being a fa***t,” he continued, “But God is still very upset with your sin.”

“No what should we do about that, knowing this as Christians? If you’re a woman and you own any pants, throw them away. Light them on fire. If you’re a man and your wife has pants, throw them away. And if she yells at you, so be it. Throw them away. That’s a good fight to be in.”

“If I was caught wearing a dress and that was online,” he said as his strange rant continued, “I would do everything in my power to get rid of that picture. Like, man, I gotta find the owner of it and persuade him. I gotta pay him off. Like, man, please delete that picture.”

“You know, there is no picture of me wearing a dress,” he added quickly with a nervous chuckle, “because I’m never going to put one on. I don’t own any and I don’t want to wear any. And women should have that same standard.”

There is no Biblical injunction that’s specifically about women and pants. At the time the Bible was written, trousers weren’t part of the Jewish wardrobe and men wore tunics and robes.


*We know who the will come for next. Some might say, they already have.  Read my post "Is This What You Want - Christian Fascism?"

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Political Week In Review 9-18-2022

Daring to exploit exhausted and traumatized immigrants — children among them — as human pawns in a political game would terrify a normal politician. No matter your views on immigration policy, imagine being treated as political refuse that’s dumped to own the libs. Pulling a stunt like this required the heart of a reptile and the ambition of a Genghis Khan, although the comparison might be unfair to skinks and geckos, which feed primarily on insects, fruit and the occasional mouse. That DeSantis performed his cruelty on migrants not even residing in his state tells you all you need to gauge his status as a scoundrel. It’s hard to decide which horrifies most, that DeSantis, Yale undergraduate, Harvard law, U.S. Navy, would squat this low or that he thought it would charm his followers.

DeSantis’ antics can’t be dismissed as mere political entertainment. As the Cato Institute’s Will Duffield recently wrote, using state power to bully people or corporations for exercising their free speech rights soils the First Amendment.... .He wants to instill a deep and pervasive fear of his wrath. You’re Disney, speaking out? He knows how to make it hurt. You want to establish vaccination guidelines for your non-profit, as the Special Olympics did? He’ll threaten to defund you. You believe the undocumented should be treated with dignity? By requisitioning some of them from Texas and depositing them in your wealthy liberal enclave, he’ll turn his ire into your theoretical inconvenience and dial up the pain if you ignore him.

Some commentators have predicted that the Martha’s Vineyard gambit will backfire on DeSantis for going too far. But it won’t. His fellow member of the stuntman guild —Trump — has already ushered in a new political age that demands greater acts of malice and spite to keep the groundlings’ attention. Like other stuntmen, DeSantis never satisfies himself with his last stunt. He’s always looking to top himself. [with Florida money]  


Friday, September 16, 2022

But I'm a Cheerleader

Why the film “But I’m a Cheerleader” condemning conversion therapy remains an unheralded masterpiece

This whimsically edgy comedy follows teenager Megan (Natasha Lyonne), whose suburban existence filled with friends, cheerleading, and all-American fun is upended when her straight-laced parents suspect she may be a lesbian. In a panic, they send her to True Directions, a "rehabilitation" camp run by the strict and prudish Mary (Cathy Moriarty), to mount an intervention led by counselor Mike (RuPaul Charles). Megan dutifully follows the program - until she develops feelings for another camper in this timeless, satirical romantic-comedy about self-acceptance and love, costarring Michelle Williams, Clea DuVall, and Julie Delpy.

Thanks to the MPAA effectively censoring the film from its intended audience (NC17) and a slew of scathing reviews (from heterosexual critics, mind you) But I’m a Cheerleader never took off in the way that it should have. Over the years, its gained status as a cult favorite, and queer critics have been particularly kind to the film, recognizing it as far ahead of its time (1999). With its cast including legends like Lyonne, Duvall, Melanie Lynskey and freaking RuPaul, it’s my hope that this groundbreaking exploration of conversion therapy will earn its place as a bonafide classic someday.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

School Shut down Its Student Newspaper

August 31, 2022

Former Viking Saga newspaper staff members
Marcus Pennell (left) and Emma Smith (right)
 display a pride flag outside of Northwest High School.

A central Nebraska high school shut down its student newspaper shortly after it published an LGBTQ-dedicated issue

Journalism students at Northwest High School published an LGBTQ-dedicated issue on May 16.

Three days later, school administrators moved to shut down the paper.

School officials also told transgender student reporters to use their birth names in their bylines.

A school district in Grand Island, Nebraska, shut down its high school newspaper in June after students published an issue with LGBTQ topics and were previously ordered to use their birth names in their bylines.

As Pride Month approached, journalism students at Northwest High School's newspaper, Viking Saga, planned to dedicate a few pages on LGBTQ-related subjects for the final issue of the academic year.

The issue which was reviewed by Insider featured an editorial column on the controversial Parental Rights in Education bill in Florida that critics billed the "Don't Say Gay" bill, explored the "science of gender," and briefly delved into the history of the LGBTQ movement.

The June issue was published on May 16 before the last day of school.

Three days later, a notification was sent to staff and students saying that the newspaper was being shut down, The Grand Island Independent first reported. A school district administrator then canceled the Saga's printing services on May 19, according to the local news outlet.

The district employee said in an email to The Independent that they were told "the (journalism and newspaper) program was cut because the school board and superintendent are unhappy with the last issue's editorial content."

Northwest Public Schools Board Vice President Zach Mader told the news outlet that there has been consideration of getting rid of the newspaper if "we were not going to be able to control content that we saw (as) inappropriate."

"The very last issue that came out this year, there was… a little bit of hostility amongst some," Mader said. "There were editorials that were essentially, I guess what I would say, LGBTQ."

Mader did not immediately respond to Insider for a request for comment.

Mike Hiestand, the senior legal counsel at the Student Press Law Center who has been in touch with the Northwest High journalism students and staff, described the incident as a textbook case of censorship.

It made (school administrators) uncomfortable," he said. "I think they were concerned with perhaps community reaction to it, I'm not sure, But their response to things that the students were writing, that they didn't like, was simply to shut the entire program down. You don't see a much more aggressive form of censorship than that."

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

I love a Success Story - Nicole Maines (TED)

I first wrote about Nicole in 2018 - Royal Pains - Nicole Maines.  A Lot has happened and below is her 2021 TED talk.

Nicole Maines

Nicole Maines tells her story of growing up openly transgender and how she came to accept herself. She couldn't have done it alone, however. While family support is essential, Nicole Maines insists it isn’t enough.  Family and community must work together to provide the space for transgender youth to find their own voice and to feel valued as individuals.  And it all begins with the power of listening. 

Nicole Maines is a student, transgender youth activist and supporter of LGBT change. In 2014, she and her family won a lawsuit against her former school after being forced to use the staff bathroom instead of the girls’ bathroom. Maine’s Supreme Court ruled that Nicole’s rights had been violated, marking a historic and landmark victory for transgender rights in the U.S.

Now an Arts and Theatre student at the University of Maine, Nicole continues to fight for LGBT change. She has been featured on Maine Public Radio, Good Morning America, ABC Nightline, Atlantic Magazine Live, and the Boston Globe. She was named one of Glamour magazine’s “50 Phenomenal Women of the Year Who Are Making a Difference” and is the subject of “Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family,” written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Amy Ellis Nutt


Here is the NPR interview. 'Becoming Nicole' Recounts One Family's Acceptance Of A Transgender Child

Casa Susanna - A Part of Our History

Toronto Doc ‘Casa Susanna’ Opens Doors on Early Postwar Trans and Cross-Dressing Community

BT: Jennie Punter - September 12, 2022

Tucked in a corner of the Catskills, Casa Susanna was a modest private resort where cross-dressing heterosexual men and transgender women gathered on summer weekends through the 1950s and ‘60s to live as their true selves, dressed in the ladies’ fashion of the day and engaging in bourgeois social activities such as taking snapshots.  

Over the past 15 years, a handful of articles, academic research, and photography exhibitions (and let’s not forget the 2014 Tony-nominated play by Harvey Fierstein) have gradually opened the door to this secret subculture of Cold War America.

Now “Casa Susanna,” a new documentary by French filmmaker S├ębastien Lifshitz (“Wild Side,” “Little Girl”), flings it open.

Following a warmly received world premiere in Venice and screenings this week in Toronto, “Casa” lands this fall at BFI London Film Festival and select U.S. and international festivals. PBS Intl., which has global rights and is receiving strong interest, is planning an awards campaign for this year.

The stories of Casa Susanna and its host and regulars remained largely unknown until collectors Michael Hurst and Robert Swope came across a trove of snapshots at a New York flea market and subsequently published a photography book in 2005.

Lifshitz, who became fascinated with the book when it came out, was obsessed with photography as a teen and started looking for “traces of gay people and crossdressers,” assembling a large collection of his own over almost 40 years.

In 2015, while preparing an exhibition form his collection, he found out about Isabelle Bonnet, a French art historian who had written her masters thesis on the transvestites in Casa Susanna. “Isabel has made a very deep investigation—she found the real name of Susanna, she found the location of the house, she found relatives and had started to rebuild the story,” Lifshitz told Variety.  

“I knew immediately this was an extraordinary story in pre-queer history. Her research was  really important to connect everything, but not enough to make a film.”

While it took a while for the deal to come together, Agat Films, ARTE France and PBS’s American Experience Films, in association with BBC Storyville, supported the project — enough to keep it moving forward, without needing the hustle of documentary markets.

“I think we wanted to protect the film in a way,” said Lifshitz, who travelled to the U.S. to see the locations and all archives. He was also looking for former visitors Kate and Diana, both octogenarians at the time of filming, and the film’s key storytellers. “I was worried that maybe they would be very shy, because you need to put yourself in a position where you can build a narrative from your life.”

Noted American photographer Cindy Sherman also had a collection of Casa Susanna snaps, Lifshitz discovered, which she agreed to share with the film.

The production also struck an exclusive deal with Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario, which holds 340 images from the aforementioned Casa Susanna collection of amateur photos.

Perhaps most revealing are the never-before-seen archival materials, photos and film, from the offspring of Casa visitors; a few appear in the film, and their childhood memories provide a unique perspective. 

“For me, found photographs and amateur snapshots are an important connection to real history,” Lifshitz said. “To convey what a period of time really was like, you need the anonymous person, you need the common people.

“It’s a way to understand social and cultural history in a more precise and complex way than we usually see.”


Times have changed! Did you ever attend?  Do You know someone that did? Please comment. 

f this is your belief structure, I am assuming that many have gone to the great "Casa Susanna" in the sky and are living there as their authentic selves.  

Monday, September 12, 2022

Chilling Effect

Miami-Dade School Board’s anti-LGBTQ vote shows chilling effect of parents’ law.

2022 Miami Herald. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

My Note:  This is what we will be seeing nation wide as DeSantis become more powerful.  If he become president his bullying will become more overt. At his time Vegas odds have an implied probability of 22.2% and places him second in terms of favorites to be the next US President. He will likely campaign on his damaging Florida record which he unabashedly proud. Already we are seeing the cowering effect of his bullying, even from those that have previously supported us.   


Last year, when the Miami-Dade School Board overwhelmingly supported a measure to recognize October as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) History Month, some board members said their decision was rooted in another step toward civil rights for all people.

At the time, Vice Chair Steve Gallon III said he was “obligated to support the item because my DNA compels me to support inclusion. It compels me to support equity, it compels me to support equality.”

The nine-member board passed the proposal in a 7-1 vote, with Board Member Christi Fraga dissenting and Board Member Lubby Navarro absent.

This year, though, during a marathon and contentious meeting Wednesday, the board voted 8-1 to reject recognizing October as LGBTQ month. Only Board Member Lucia Baez-Geller supported the observance; she put forth the proposal, both last year and this year.

This time, Gallon said, his personal beliefs must be divorced from his obligation to follow the law, despite his “love for all humanity, my commitment to inclusivity and access to representation.”

He expressed concern that Baez-Geller’s measure “did not fully comport with the law,” referencing Florida’s new Parental Rights in Education law, dubbed by critics as Florida’s “Don’t say gay” bill. In March, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law, prohibiting instruction related to gender identity or sexual orientation in kindergarten through third grade and potentially restricting such instruction for older kids.

Gallon and seven other board members voted no on the October observance and no on allowing the district to explore teaching two landmark Supreme Court decisions impacting the LGBTQ community to 12th-grade students. To some, the board’s vote on Wednesday underscores the chilling effect the law is having on school boards in Florida.

“Nearly every board member opposing the resolution voiced their belief that the proclamation violated the Don’t Say LGBTQ Law, further evidence of the sweeping censorship of this law,” said a news release sent by Equality Florida, a civil rights organization that works with Florida’s LGBTQ community.

School board attorney Walter Harvey told the board Wednesday that he believed the measure was in compliance with the state law because it did not have changes to curriculum or instruction.

At the end of July, opponents to the law sued DeSantis, the Florida Board of Education and Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. in federal court in Tallahassee, challenging the law’s constitutionality. The case is pending.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Friday, September 9, 2022

View From The Balcony - Some Cruise Ship Observations

 Celebrity Equinox  

With the Ship's Captain 

This photo was taken immediately after the "Officiers' Soiree'" on Friday evening. All of the officers, in their best uniforms, were introduced on the grand balcony that evening.  I manage to get a coveted picture with the Captain just as the event was ending. Every morning he provided a daily briefing on ports, activities and ship's direction / speed and, expected weather.  All I can say is that ran an organized ship. Our weather was perfect and everything about the ship was perfect. From the meals, entertainment, and activities.  I will say it was one of the "Best Escapes Ever"!

The entertainment is amazing.  From theater events that rival Broadway Productions with massive props, dancers and singers, a Vegas-style singer, to a modern piano concert.  Something different every night that you would match up with your dining schedule. 

Officiers' Soiree'

Also, starting at about 6 pm there were mini-concerts and dancing in many venues all over the ship. Rock and dance concerts, in the grand foyer. Chamber music in a secluded quiet bar.  Late-night dance concerts from Latin to rock that would last until midnight. Everything you would want to keep you entertained.  All at no additional charge. 

The food is outstanding! The ever-present "Ocean View Cafe" on the top deck served buffet food starting at 7:00 am to 11 pm every day.  The breakfast menu offered eggs and omelets cooked while you watched, along with fresh fruit, smoked salmon, and everything in between. After a late show, there was hot pizza, soda, and ice cream with all the fixings.  

My dinner schedule was in the main dining room with  different specialty menu items every evening. I never felt the need to pay extra and go to any of the speciality restaurants. 

The menu ranged from lobster to prime rib. If you wanted two shrimp cocktails, that was fine or even another lobster tail. The portions were always just right. Every table had a wine sommelier with always the right suggestion for your food selection. You were never rushed and could enjoy dinner as long as you would like. 

Evening Entertainment in the Theater

What else is there to do in the evening: Shopping / browsing in many high-end boutiques, audience game activities, group gatherings around specialty bars (more on that later) or just watching the sunset on the quiet top deck with the wind blowing through your hair.      

If we did not have a port-of-call for a day (2 sea days) there was the ever-present pool deck. I must brag that it has one of the best hamburger bars ever. It is located on the pool deck and you could order your grilled hamburger to taste with all the fixings. It tasted so good as you sat on your pool side lounge chair, enjoying the sea breeze; watching to ocean go by. 
Several of the flash mod's inductees
with the choreographer

Friday we were all entertainer on the pool-deck by an impromptu "Flash Mob" dance. it was well choreographed with volunteers and anyone and everyone were free to join in.  What a fun noon-time delight.

I am sure you wonder - how is the LGBTQ community treated?  Stay tuned for more to come...