We are Orlando

My heart has been pretty heavy since the news hit about yet another massacre in the States. I have been quiet and reflective; not sure I was going to say much of anything publicly. After all, I did not know any of the victims and we all already know that it’s a horrible tragedy.

However, I reconsidered that because there is no part of my life that isn’t touched by this. I live in the bay area of California, where Harvey Milk served when he became the first openly gay politician before he himself was massacred. There has never been a single time in my life that I have not had at least one gay friend.  At various points throughout the last couple of decades, I have worked at nightclubs – both gay and straight. My sometimes boss was (is) a flamboyant and wonderful gay man. Last year I took my six-year-old faery goddaughter to the Gay Pride parade in San Francisco right after gay marriage was legalized by the Supreme Court so she could witness a happy moment in history. A little over a month ago I attended a lesbian wedding. Last week I spent time talking to a friend about whether or not she wanted to explore a same-sex relationship. And last night my heart broke as I held up a candle, raised my voice in song and marched with thousands of others through the streets of San Francisco.

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Gerry Conlon

Today as I celebrate my birthday and my friends raise a glass to me, I will be raising one for Gerry Conlon and his family. I was heartbroken to hear the news today that this inspiring man has passed away in Belfast and it marks the only time I have shed a tear over the passing of someone I did not know personally. It was a goal of mine to meet him, and now I will not. Rest in Peace Mr. Conlon. I hope you meet your father again soon.

For more information on who he was and what his life meant to me, go here:

http://lightandthunder.wordpress.com/2014/06/21/gerry-conlon-r-i-p/

Maya Angelou

I didn’t mind reading as a kid and I have never lost the love I have for the written word. Despite that, there were a lot of non-captivating books on the required reading list when I was in school. ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings‘ was not one of them and I have devoured all of Dr. Maya Angelou’s books and writings since. The woman was a warrior bard her entire life, an inspiration who crossed all barriers of race, gender and spirit, and while she deserves a bit of rest, I am sad to see her go.

I have tried to live my life with as much empathy, fearlessness and ferocity as she did. I should be so lucky to write anything that touches someone like Still I Rise touched me. Today, still she does rise, remaining a bright and shining beacon of all that is worth writing down.

Maya

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.