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One Step Forward --- Two Steps Back? 

By: Karen J. Allen
Co-Publisher, On the Gay Horizon

Last week felt like one of those one-step-forward-two-steps-back kind of weeks. I really wanted to feel a part of the excitement sweeping the country and most of the world. But the results of those ballot initiatives in Florida, Arizona, Arkansas and, especially, California, pretty much cancelled out my excitement.

I went from disbelief to hurt to anger. Usually, my immature self chooses to withdraw --- they don't want us, then who needs them! The problem is that there really isn't any place to withdraw to.

They are everywhere. 

How long would I have been able to maintain that "poor us" frame of mind? Forever? Its such a familiar place that it would have been easy to tarry there for a good while. But earlier this week I was forced to explain On the Gay Horizon over and over to attendees at a seminar. This group of 200 complete strangers included maybe a couple who weren't straight. One even stood up and "testified for Jesus" --- not something you usually see at business seminars.

I attended this training to learn how to make OTGH better. Now, I am not closeted, but, "Hey, I'm gay" is not usually the first thing I say when I meet someone. So, when the first question anyone asked was always "why are you here?", I had to choose: tell them or make something up. I told them. Turns out, all the usual suspects were in attendance. Some reacted with that deer-in-the-headlights expression and couldn't wait to escape. Fortunately, they were in the minority. Most folks were fine. And some were absolutely wonderful.

I learned some useful techniques about websites and search engine optimization but my biggest "take-away" from the conference was something else entirely. By the end of the three days, my attitude toward the election had totally shifted.

Barack Obama kept saying the election was never about him --- that it was about us. And you know what? He was right. Those ballot initiatives were not about us --- that close-minded judgment has never been about us. Whether it comes from fear of the unfamiliar, self-hatred, religious intolerance or simply the inability to think for ones self makes absolutely no difference. It's not about us --- it's about them.

So, where do we go with that?

Wherever we choose.

True, we have to do our homework and put some extra pieces in place to get most of the same legal protections and advantages that are supposed to come with marriage. I say "supposed to" because that certificate is not a guarantee. Ask women who ended up with nothing because their husbands controlled the finances and hired good lawyers.

The simple truth is that nothing changed in California last week --- anymore than it changed last May. Being given the right to marry or having it taken away says nothing about who we are. One did not make our relationships equally loving and committed and the other make them less. Anyone who doesn't see that just isn't looking.

I believe that it's a matter of time until most people realize that you can't have equality unless you include everyone.  Look what the New York Times said:

"Struggles over civil rights never follow a straight trajectory, and the ugly outcome of these ballot fights should not obscure the building momentum for full equality for gay people, including acceptance of marriage between gay men and women. But the votes remind us of how much remains to be done before this bigotry is finally erased."

We can bring that bigotry-free day closer. Start by letting go of the anger and channel that energy into something more positive.  The Task Force is asking everyone to sign the Anger into Action Declaration.

From a jail cell in Birmingham, Martin Luther King wrote "Will we be extremists for hate or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice --- or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?"  

HRC is advocating that we pledge to become extremists for love.

Then, talk to your friends. To your family. Talk to us. There's only one way to move forward --- together.

[Editor's note; We created On the Gay Horizon for the sole purpose of trying to level the playing field. Everyone, gay and straight, needs to make certain decisions as they age. Soon, we will be publishing our next ebook outlining the basic steps unique to our community. We'll be telling you more about that as we get closer to the release date. Until then, we recommend A Legal Guide for Lesbian & Gay Couples by NOLO Press for the legal documentation too important to put off.]

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Ann-Marie has some thoughts to share about how small, gradual changes can have an enormous impact on our quality of life. Since that seems to be the theme of what we are both trying to say, we wanted to ask for your thoughts. Do you have a story you would like to share about change --- or some advice for implementing it?

We would love to hear from you at admin@onthegayhorizon.com .

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 One at a Time

By: Ann-Marie Giglio
Co-Publisher, On the Gay Horizon

I was walking the trail behind my house yesterday and saw the same 40-foot tree dangling along a tiny cliff beside the walkway. Half the soil is missing beneath it, yet it hangs on. And each time I walk by, I'm reminded of all the tiny grains of soil shifting under the tree's weight, one at a time, and I know one day, the last one will move, and the tree will fall. A tiny change: an enormous impact.

Wouldn't it be great if by making small changes, we had an enormous impact on our lives?

Well, we can.

We are the same way. We can make very small changes which seem insignificant by themselves but will eventually rock our world.

We can practice replacement therapy: the practice of replacing one habit with another.

Some two thirds of our cancers develop as the direct result of environmental factors: like poor diet and lack of exercise --- things we can change. We can decide to move more. Or change the quality of the food we intend to eat for the next 30 or 40 or 60 years.

If we eat the food which is as full of life as possible, most like its raw state (though not necessarily raw, just pure), we give our bodies the benefit of all the micronutrients necessary for healthy cells and none of the foreign matter.

Do we have to throw out our entire pantry and begin from scratch? No. We simply need to start replacing processed foods with whole foods. One at a time. When you run out of your favorite snack food, replace it with a more wholesome one. Even if it's still corn chips, for example --- find the corn chips which are made very simply of corn, non-hydrogenated oil, and salt. If you can find organic ingredients, even better.

Choosing organic foods makes your impact even larger. First, your own cells will not have to deal with any foreign substances. Second, the planet will not have to deal with foreign substances, like excessive nitrogen or pesticides. Third, you will be supporting farmers who practice clean farming. Fourth, you or someone you don't know, will not suffer the consequences of ground-water pollution from chemically managed farm run-off, which occurs every time it rains or fields flood. Fifth, you will keep the food chain and the earth more pure by rejecting genetically modified grains which are developed specifically to endure more pesticide application.

All that from a bag of corn chips!

And gradually, over the course of perhaps six months, you will have completely emptied and replaced your pantry, one item at a time. But you'll barely notice the doing of it.

To move more, do we need to run out and join a gym? No. We simply need to move more.

What's the easiest, cheapest way to add movement to our lives? Consider replacing one television show with a walk. Yes, take a walk! Even better, grab a friend and take a walk. Walk around your neighborhood. Or drive to a large store --- Home Depot, Walmart, a mall --- leave your money home and just walk. Not walk. Walk. Stop. I mean walk, at a comfortable pace, for as long as you can. If it's five minutes the first time you walk, stay with that the first week.

Aim for 6-minute sessions the next week you walk, and so on, until you're walking about 30 to 45 minutes per session. Be really picky about the television you watch and replace any shows that don't make the cut with a walk!

What will this do? Burn calories. Work your heart. Move your limbs. Grow your brain. Cultivate a friendship. Make you feel better.

In six months, you could be exercising --- er, I mean walking --- five nights a week!

Imagine that: healthy, wholesome food and plenty of exercise in six months by making very small changes, one at a time.

And if we can replace one habit with another, painlessly, we'll never be limited by ideas again.

Imagine that.

 

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