My Gay Year, 2012 1/11/13

It was an eventful year, 2012, in my little corner of the LGBT world.  This past year has seen some sad, and some unexpectedly wonderful, events.

eric_james_cropJanuary started the year off with a tragedy. EricJames Borges, 19, succumbed to suicide after years of struggling with bullying and family and church condemnation. A volunteer with the Trevor Project, and a budding filmmaker, EricJames took his own life January 11, 2012. The news spread world wide, with media as diverse as The Huffington Post and the UK’s Daily Mail picking up the story after Queerlandia’s initial reporting.

screen-shot-2013-01-10-at-6-56-55-pmIn February, I was a panelist at a meeting of the Tulare & Kings Counties PFLAG (Parents, Family and Friends, of Lesbians and Gays). The subject was “LGBT Life Online“. (That’s me in the turquoise sweater) Each speaker told of their online activities, and a bit about themselves and how they used and are affected by being online.

In May, the Times Delta printed a guest commentary I wrote about Harvey Milk Day in California, May 22.

In June, I got to take my first Mexican Cruise! A three day jaunt to Ensenada, with best bud Ted.
It was also the month that the Visalia City Council, in a first for the Central Valley, proclaimed “June LBTQ Pride Month“. Here’s how that happened, and it’s lesson to me. This was a very big event for Visalia and the Central Valley.  Fresno and Bakersfield have yet to follow suit.
June also saw another surprise for me, when Adam Bouska, of NOH8 Campaign,began following my personal blog, Cool beans!

jim-noh8In July, just after he began following my blog, Adam Bouska brought his NOH8 Campaign open shoot to Fresno. (I’m sure there was no connection between the two events!) Over 500 people had their NOH8 photos taken, including me.

Also in July, the Visalia Times Delta invited me to become one of (then) two (and now three) community bloggers on this website. My blog,Alternating Currents, provides another platform for my various ramblings. I’ve attempted to be more varied in my posts here, but as 2012 was such a pivotal moment in LGBTQ history, most of my posts have been gay related.

lgbt_booth_tulare_co_fair (1)In September, the local LGBTQ community experienced another first, by having a booth at the Tulare County Fair! The booth even won a 1st place trophy. Kudos to all who put the booth together at the last minute (fair staff called a local LGBTQ activist and offered the space a week before they opened!). A lot of good comments from the community.

In October, I was asked to be part of a panel to speak at a Visalia Unified School District meeting on issues facing the LGBTQ community in Visalia’s schools. Four of us from PFLAG spoke to a small gathering of school officials, another first for this community. I hope we get asked back this year, as it’s a great opportunity to address issues that sometimes fly below the radar of school officials and the public.

November brought the documentary, “How To Survive A Plague” to the Central Valley. Presented at Fresno’s historic Tower Theatre, the film tells the story of ACT UP and TAG in their battle with the Federal Government and the pharmaceutical industry over research and treatment of HIV/AIDS in the 80′s and 90′s. The film was brought to Fresno by my friend Ted Freitas, and I was able to lend a hand as “technical assistant” for the showing. (that means I was a glorified gopher, while Ted did most of the work! I was happy to help however I could.)

In December, friends from Fresno, Ted, Adi, and James, came down to Visalia andtook me out to dinner. We had a nice meal at Fugazzi’s on Main street, then a leisurely stroll through downtown Visalia. December also saw my ordination in two different spiritual communities, The Church of the Latter-Day Dude, and The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. (Those two orders join my previous ordinations in the Temple of Earth, and The Universal Life Church. I’m well covered spiritually, for an atheist!)

Looking back, 2012 was a remarkable year for those of us in the LBGTQ community in Visalia. We’re starting off 2013 remembering how 2012 began, by holding a candle light vigil on the one year anniversary of EricJames’ death. It will be a poignant moment, both sad and celebratory, and the bitter cold weather expected will highlight those emotions quite appropriately. (Locals can attend the service, Friday, 1/11/13, 5:30 pm, in front of the College of the Sequoias Theatre, 901 S Mooney Blvd, Visalia)

How 2013 will unfold remains to be seen. DOMA and Proposition 8 are before the Supreme Court, with decisions expected by June. The military is dealing with the fallout from the end of DADT. Several states may pass marriage equality laws this year. Several more countries will pass marriage equality laws. The Pope continues to spout nonsense about the gays destroying society. Fisher and Robertson continue their plunge into obscurity as they continue to rant against the LGBTQ community. NOM is fading, as is GOProud. The “pray away the gay” “ministries” are admitting publicly something they’ve known all along: their “therapy” doesn’t work.

I’ve watched all these events unfold this past year, and whether local events that I was lucky enough to be a part of, or national and international events that I could only watch from my computer, 2013 promises to be another pivotal time in my gay life. Yours too, I hope!

Cross posted from

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