By: Karen J.
Co-Publisher, On the
We received an email this week from an OTGH subscriber that I'd
like to share...
I continue to enjoy your blogs and wanted to be certain that
you did not miss this item. In today's Miami Herald,
there is a sickening story of how Janice Langbehn was
denied rights.....to say nothing of Human Decency, by a group
of left-over Anita Bryant ... Florida Conservatives!
Having appreciated your sharing of personal experiences for
some months now, I would love to hear
your thoughts/reaction to this ... The unfortunate
reality is that we must all remain aware of and continue
efforts to thwart this type of activity. As an aging gay
male with decades of Health Care Professional experience, I am
all too aware of what we face in this arena. Please
let me know if as a group, there is something/more we could do
to improve this situation.
I hadn't seen the article, but Janice
Langbehn's story is very familiar to me. So much so that it
immediately took me back to the day I flew into the emergency
room to get someone to bring a wheelchair for my partner. The
words, "She can't breathe!" are like magic in busy medical
facilities --- they move you to the head of the
was inside, they told me I had to move my car. Since I
still thought we might be going home one day, I didn't
argue. I found a nearby parking lot and then hurried back
as fast as I could. It's funny how your mind works.
As I think back, I find myself wondering what someone who isn't
gay thinks in a situation like that. Probably the same
terrified thoughts I had but I bet they don't have that little
section of the brain that's always on duty preparing for a
likely battle ahead. I expected that I was going to find
that they had moved her somewhere and they were going to ask,
"Are you family?"
wasn't my day to slay that particular dragon, but that's
exactly what happened to Janice Langbehn. Her partner of 17
years, Lisa Marie Pond, suffered a cerebral aneurysm as their
cruise ship was about to depart from Miami. Lisa was rushed to
Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center where the staff
refused to allow Janice or their three children to see
hospital social worker said, "You are in an anti-gay city and
state," as he locked the door to the unit where Janice's
partner lay dying. It was not until the very end, after
Lisa was pronounced brain-dead, that they were allowed access
to her room.
Unimaginable, huh? To
know that someone you love is hurt, scared, possibly dying and
you are deliberately kept from being with them. Actually, it's
probably very imaginable for most of
One of our greatest fears. It was certainly present
in my thoughts as I made that long walk back into the
hospital. But we were more fortunate than Janice and
Lisa. We were in that hospital for weeks and even though
I had to repeat it about a hundred times, "Yes, I'm
family, I'm her partner," my status was never questioned.
treated with more compassion than anything else but I've
always known how easily it could have been
I know that gays and lesbians are faced with this kind of
cruel discrimination every day.
end of his email, Bruce asked the most important question of
all --- what can we do? How can we prevent this from ever
happening to one of us again?
Langbehn and her attorneys have filed a lawsuit against Jackson
Memorial, claiming emotional distress and negligence.
Even if the hospital doesn't lose, the negative press may
encourage a revisiting of their policies. But I'm sure
the hospital we were in here in Texas, not the most liberal of
states, has the same rules. The difference was the people
charged with enforcing the policy.
that's the key. Yes, we need to change the laws but more
importantly we need to take our case to the people. We've
become so visible in recent years that we forget that they
don't really know who we are and the challenges we face.
I am constantly amazed at the things people say to me --- close
friends or family, people you would expect to know
better. But the simple truth is that they really don't
a new movement underway called, "Tell 3 - Coming Out Isn't
Enough." Supported by organizations like
the Task Force, Join the Impact and PFLAG, the idea is to
"pledge to tell 3 people what it's like for you or your
loved ones to be LGBT. Because we used to think coming
out would win us our rights. Now we know it takes more
3 website has all sorts of material and suggestions on who to
talk to and how to go about it. This is something we can
all do and it will have far-reaching effects. I know,
it's always felt so risky. But part of this is our own fault.
We've allowed straight America to dictate how we act when we're
around them. Even when we are technically "out" we treat our
partners like friends and allow the conversation to be about
what goes on in everyone else's lives.
price we pay for our silence is a general lack of awareness and
understanding about the everyday, constant struggle it is to be
gay. That what they take for granted --- like the right to care
for those they love --- is something that can be denied us at
any moment. I believe that most people are compassionate and
have good hearts but that they simply don't think. It's time
potential rewards of the Tell 3 campaign far outweigh the
risk. And the alternative, the status quo, is
unacceptable. Just ask Janice Langbehn.
know, it's difficult to describe how the worst experience of
your life can also be one of the greatest. There are no words
for what it's like to lose someone the way I lost my partner
--- emergency by-pass surgery leading to a massive stroke and
ending with abiding by her wishes and allowing her to
die. But it was such a privilege, such a profound honor
to take that last journey with her. I am so thankful that
I was there.
unconscionable that anyone be denied that right and it's time
we stopped allowing it to happen --- to anyone.
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Thanks, Bruce. Thanks
for asking how we can work together to make things better for
all of us. We would love to hear from anyone with a suggestion
or thoughts on this. Or maybe someone has a story they would
like to share. Just contact us at email@example.com
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Time to Get
Fit in a Year - Week
So it's nearly
six weeks since we began this series. And the first thing
you did --- you DID do it, didn't you? --- was to assess your
cardio fitness by stair-climbing. Since then, have you
added any movement to your life?
If you have, it's time to reassess your cardio fitness by doing
the same thing. Get out your first set of numbers and
compare. Has anything changed? Tell us about
If you have not changed your level of movement, today's the
day. And here's something to aim for in order to chart
your course: the 2009 AIDS Walk NY on May 17 in
Karen and I walked it last year to honor her late partner's
work with AIDS patients and to make OTGH real.
We'll be walking it again this year. It's a 10K.
That's 6.2 miles. Sound like a lot? Karen thought
so. But she did it. And this year, she'll do it
again, but differently. She's going to start preparing
for it today.
Safely walking 6 miles requires several things to come
together. You must have proper walking form. Check
biomechanically correct form.
You must also have a very useful diet. Keep reading here
for more tips. You must build up your glycogen
conversion system so that it works efficiently. It takes
a while to walk 6.2 miles. And in the crowd we'll have,
it will take longer.
So anyone care to join Karen and I this year?
You'll need to start walking if you haven't already done
so. And I want you to walk with a level pelvis.
That means your waistband is level. Pull your pelvis up
in front, or up in back, until it's level. And hold it
How much should you walk? As far as you can or for as
much time as you have. The goal will be to get a number
to use for the week. Whatever you do today, you will do
every other day for a week.
The following week, you will increase your time or distance by
Sound easy? Good. Get going. But first
register for AIDS WALK NY at:
eam On the Gay
And then grab a friend and get