Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Yesterday, I got harassed online by someone saying he felt sorry for me because I had to live my life in a fairy tale. After a quick scan of this person’s Twitter page, I determined that he wasn’t conservative. Rather he was just a Negative Nelly — a type that is often found online.

I turned the harassment into a Buddhist exercise and sent him positive energy.  Then I did a mantra of positivity for all the negative people.  And then I ended up sending positive energy to the whole world.

I thought I was done with the entire thing, but my mind kept returning to the idea of fairy tales.  I like fairy tales. And rather than living in them and being trapped by them, in my book it’s okay to inhabit them and change them. It’s okay to wake up and write a different ending.

In my book Tea Leaves, a memoir of mother’s and daughters (Bella Books; 2012), I write about my grandmother working in a textile factory when she was a young woman. Naturally she would have thought about fairy tales. They do connect us and inform us.  I imagine one of the primary purposes of fairy tales was to convince young girls and women that the frog would turn into a prince. All you had to do was to marry him.

In Tea Leaves, my young grandmother is inspired by the rhythms of the heddles in the textile factory to daydream and those daydreams were informed by fairy tales. As a girl, my grandmother had daydreamed about becoming an actress. She went as far as taking bit parts in a neighborhood theater company. But being an actress was a pipe dream.  As my grandmother later — repeatedly, habitually — said to my mother “Art doesn’t put food on the table.” Since she was a young girl, my mother had shown considerable artistic talent.

8A8A45DB-967C-4459-B473-06655838C66A

But my grandmother was right. Art doesn’t usually put food on the table. But it does feed the spirit. So my grandmother worked in a factory. Even as a young young woman raised on fairy tales, she must have realized that the workers were treated badly and paid worse. At the end of her daydream, the rhythm of the heddles turned into the heavy sounds of workers marching in the streets.

My grandmother went on to become a single mother. The frog she married didn’t turn into a prince. And then he left.  She gave birth to my mother, a thwarted artist, a feminist ahead of her time, and a frustrated housewife. My mother gave birth to me. In elementary school, I briefly wanted to be an actress. In high school, I designed silkscreens.  I had a lot of pent up rage in me and I eventually became a writer. It took three generations, but we got there.  And fairy tales were part of the process.

“Not only is dairy not ‘essential,’ factory farming, including dairy farming, is a breeding ground for disease,” the actress and vegan activist wrote in an op-ed slamming the governor’s dairy-focused Nourish New York initiative.

— Edie Falco quoted in VegNews

My partner and I have long been big fans of Edie Falco.  So when I learned that she was a vegan activist, I was elated.  When the network drama ‘Tommie” was cancelled, we were both bummed. ‘Tommie” starred Edie Falco as an out lesbian police chief in Los Angeles It was the only network drama that we watched. Then my partner observed that it must have been too much for the mainstream — an out lesbian with a bi-racial (adult) daughter.  Not that the mainstream couldn’t learn a lot from a strong female lead — but it probably was too threatening.

Becoming a vegan saved my life.  My partner followed suit, and is now a vegan too.  I became a vegan for my health but also have a strong compassion for the animals.  When I learned about the benefits of a plant-based diet on the planet, I was already sold.

I first learned about Edie Falco (who perhaps is best known for her role in The Sopranos) on The Exam Room podcast, a show on YouTube from The Physicians committee. I highly recommend the show for those who are plant-based or thinking about it.

Following is an excerpt from the VegNews article on Edie Falco:

”In a recent op-ed in the New York Daily News, award-winning actress Edie Falco—known best for her role as Carmela Soprano in The Sopranos—slammed New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s Nourish New York Initiative, a $25 million program that revolves around purchasing dairy products for distribution to food banks. “With federal funds stretched to the limit, why would the governor squander $25 million to bail out the dairy industry, which is rife with disease and cruelty?” Falco wrote. “Not only is dairy not ‘essential,’ factory farming, including dairy farming, is a breeding ground for disease. If the current pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that raising and killing animals for food is a global health risk. The current crisis originated in a meat market. Swine flu and avian flu originated on factory farms in the United States. Sweet corn, New York State’s proposed ‘official’ vegetable, never sparked a pandemic.”

Falco urged that the funding be redirected to fruit and vegetable farmers, pointing out that the consumption of dairy products has been linked to a variety of illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. “Cow’s milk is often foisted upon schoolchildren, even though it’s one of the primary causes of food allergies among kids, and millions of Americans are lactose-intolerant, including many people of color.” Falco wrote. “If we want to nourish New York and help the state’s struggling dairy farmers, Governor Cuomo can put that $25 million to better use. Let’s help dairy workers retrain for jobs making the healthy plant-based milks that consumers actually want to buy and increase the availability of nourishing vegan options in our schools and food banks.”

Here is my favorite Pride video (from The Exam Room Podcast).  It features a couple called The VeganMos.

 

To learn more about my novel THEY, a biblical tale of secret genders (published by Adelaide Books New York/Lisbon), click here

THEY Scottie

When my partner told me that Jane Goodall said that humanity had to go to a plant-based diet — or else — I became very interested.

I’ve been on a plant-based diet for health reasons since last fall. We were going toward being vegan for a few years.   My partner and I were never big meat eaters — in part because we were animal lovers.  In recent years, we found out out that cows are slaughtered for meat after they are done being milked. So, with that in mind, it wasn’t hard to go vegan.

After only a month of not eating dairy, I felt amazingly good.  Now,  nearly ten months later — of being completely vegan I still feel amazingly good (part of it, I’m sure, is due to not ingesting the suffering of animals).  Part of it is being connected to a worldwide growing community of likeminded people who have scientific evidence that a plant-based diet vastly improves people’s health.

I’m happy to hear how fast the vegan-movement is growing, but there are times that I’m perplexed that more people aren’t pursuing it.  Would people really rather be sick, than change their diets?

One very simple answer is economic — follow the money.  What companies support the media by advertising products that are bad for us? Another answer for it is that eating can be emotional, not logical. There’s even a term for it: emotional eating.

I’ll let Jane Goodall’s comments speak for themselves. The following is an excerpt from The Guardian.

 
Humanity will be “finished” if we fail to drastically change our food systems in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the climate crisis, the prominent naturalist Jane Goodall has warned.  She blamed the emergence of Covid-19 on the over-exploitation of the natural worldwhich has seen forests cut down, species made extinct and natural habitats destroyed. The coronavirus is thought to have made the jump from animals to humans late last year, possibly originating in a meat market in Wuhan, China.

Intensive farming was also creating a reservoir of animal diseases that would spill over and hurt human society, said Goodall, one of the world’s foremost experts on chimpanzees and a longtime conservation campaigner, speaking alongside two European commissioners at an online event held by the campaigning group Compassion in World Farming, on Tuesday.

“We have brought this on ourselves because of our absolute disrespect for animals and the environment,” she said. “Our disrespect for wild animals and our disrespect for farmed animals has created this situation where disease can spill over to infect human beings.”

People must move away from factory farming and stop destroying natural habitats as a matter of urgency, she said, because of the threat of diseases and of climate breakdown. Factory farming is linked to the rise of antibiotic resistant superbugs, which threaten human health.

“If we do not do things differently, we are finished,” she said. “We can’t go on very much longer like this.”

 
To see my UU reflection on going to a plant-based diet (given on National Pig Day) click here.

 

9B235C72-0194-435D-BF19-49FA723D7269

Now, there’s a new one. I’m usually told that I’m going to go to hell because, I wrote THEY, a biblical tale of secret genders (Adelaide Books — New York/Lisbon).

But this time, Unitarian Universalism is being accused of the “end times” that this person says that we are in. First of all, we are in changing times (not end times) and that change is based on logic and science.  It’s hard to see the suffering in the world — and I do have compassion for those suffering. But change is necessary. As my late Aunt frequently said, “the universe is always changing and so am I.”

I’ll quote part of the message I received so you will have a sense of it.

The “religion of tolerance”; “universalism” and the “unitarian world view” is a direct affront to the Christian faith: These trends proclaim that JESUS is a liar and that THE BIBLE is a fabricated lie.

My experience in being Unitarian Universalist (UU) is that I am more open to the universe. I am more tolerant — and that includes tolerance of religious traditions that in recent history were not tolerant of me.

In this context, I have become a practicing Buddhist (this is my root religion). In  Buddhism, I have learned that we are wired for disaster (fight or flight), and that we have to re-wire ourselves so that we can promote goodness toward ourselves and others.

As I have experienced it, Unitarian Universalism is a Christian faith (with a small “c”) that is secure enough to embrace all faiths. In this context, I’ve learned that all religions have something in common: the pursuit of goodness. I’ve also learned that you don’t have to be in a religion to pursue goodness.

In my UU tradition, I have not learned that Jesus is a liar or that The Bible is a fabrication.  Actually, I learned the opposite.  However, it is true that I was inspired through a “New UU” group to rewrite the Bible. That’s how THEY, a biblical tale of secret genders was born.

But that’s just me. I understand that some might be threatened by my beliefs.  But think about it — why are you threatened?

We all pray in different ways and for different things.

 

To learn more about my novel THEY, a biblical tale of secret genders (published by Adelaide Books New York/Lisbon), click here.

 

8E64A0FC-0D0A-46DB-A849-66D7D12B8170

Several weeks ago, Len Lear interviewed me for the Arts and Entertainment section of the Chestnut Hill Local. It was an opportunity for me to talk about my novel, The Unicorn, The Mystery, which is forthcoming from Adelaide Books (New York/ Lisbon) later this year. I was interviewed about other things as well. Following are several quotes from the article and below that is a link to the full article.

Mason has another novel, “The Unicorn, the Mystery,” that will be published later this year by Adelaide Books. It was inspired by a visit Mason took several years ago to The Cloisters, part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. The Cloisters has an impressive collection of art from the Middle Ages, most of it religious.

“The muse descended on me in what is commonly called ‘the unicorn room,’” said Mason. “There is a room where seven tapestries brought over from France tell a pictorial story of ‘The Hunt of the Unicorn,’ which took place in the 1500s. The tapestries tell the story of what is still called an unsolved mystery. My novel is set in an abbey in France not far from the barn in the countryside where the tapestries were discovered.”

Mason’s novel is a fictionalized solving of the mystery, in which a talking unicorn (one of the narrators) is pursued by a band of hunters. The unicorn is led along by observing birds, smelling and eating the abbey’s flowers and fruits and in pursuit of chaste maidens. (There is one in the tapestry.) At times, the unicorn speaks to other animals.

“When I went to The Cloisters, my father was still living,” said Mason. “He encouraged me to go to The Cloisters because he and my mother had been there shortly after their honeymoon in 1944. I was born about 15 years later when my parents both were in their 40s. My father died later that year after I went to The Cloisters. He was 98. I was an only child and took his death hard. After he died, I began working on ‘The Unicorn, The Mystery’”

To read the entire article, go to:
To learn more about The Unicorn, The Mystery:
C6C29111-172F-4410-A1DD-7FD4722B54E1

I still wonder – why would anyone want to capture me? Why didn’t they just leave me alone? Was I that important?

I’m excited to announce that my novel The Unicorn, The Mystery is being published by Adelaide Books (New York/Lisbon) later this year.

In The Unicorn, The Mystery, we meet a unicorn who tells us the story of the seven tapestries, called “The Hunt of the Unicorn” from the 1500s on display in “the unicorn room” in the Cloisters (at the westernmost tip of Manhattan), now part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The tapestries tell the story of what is still called an “unsolved mystery.” The story is set in an abbey in France not far from the barn in the countryside where the tapestries were discovered. Pursued by a band of hunters, the unicorn is led along by observing birds (some of them chirp in a language that the unicorn understands), smelling and eating the abbey flowers and fruits (including imbibing in fermented pomegranates), pursuing chaste maidens (there is one in the tapestry) and at times speaks to other animals such as the majestic stag.

 

DB61B809-9225-4D78-95B8-B4C23C119468

In The Unicorn, The Mystery, we also meet a young monk named Apolo who tells us his story. Once he was pure of heart, so much so that he saw the unicorn several times (most notably as a lad and then as a young monk). But when he comes to live in the abbey, he gets swept up in the politics going on around him. His betrayal starts when he tells the Priest he meets with regularly that he saw the unicorn.  The priest scoffs and says that the unicorn is both a mythical and pagan animal.  But then he suggests that if Apolo can prove the unicorn does indeed exists, that it would be worth his while. Apolo subsequently plots with the sundial wrist-band wearing Bishop who is eager to trap the unicorn to please the King. Realizing his error in betraying the unicorn, Apolo leads us through a labyrinth of the Middle Ages, including story, myth, philosophy, numerology and alchemy. Can he regain his purity and at the same time get ahead?

Three short fiction excerpts of the The Unicorn, The Mystery were shortlisted for the Adelaide Literary Award 2018 (short stories, Vol. One).

I also included some excerpts of The Unicorn, The Mystery in my talks at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Restoration in Philadelphia. You can watch the YouTube videos or read the text of these talks by clicking on the links below.

By the way. unicorns did exist according to the bestiaries passed down from ancient Greece and unicorns are mentioned by name in The Hebrew Bible.  They can be seen depicted in images of collections from the Middle Ages when people commonly believed in the existence of unicorns. As my monk narrator says to a skeptical priest, also his Latin teacher,

God believed in the unicorn.

Click here to find about more about the excerpts from The Unicorn, The Mystery that were shortlisted in The Adelaide Literary Award.

 

https://tealeavesamemoir.wordpress.com/2018/12/26/the-unicorn-the-mystery-shortlisted-for-the-adelaide-literary-award-amreading-literaryawards/

 

The following excerpts were part of my talks at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Restoration:

A recent UU talk on origins of The Unicorn, The Mystery:

https://tealeavesamemoir.wordpress.com/2020/05/18/you-are-the-hero-of-your-own-story-uu-amreading-magic/

Here is my debut of The Unicorn, The Mystery:

https://tealeavesamemoir.wordpress.com/2018/05/27/the-unicorn-the-mystery-a-novel-debut-by-janet-mason-uu-amreading/

 

This excerpt is from Poetry Sunday:

https://tealeavesamemoir.wordpress.com/2018/07/22/love-can-lead-to-goodness-reading-from-sappho-and-the-unicorn-the-mystery-poetry-sunday-a-uu-tradition/

 

This excerpt features the Egyptian cat goddess, Goddess Bastet:

 

https://tealeavesamemoir.wordpress.com/2018/07/01/gardening-and-the-egyptian-cat-goddess-bastet-a-novel-preview/

 

 

 

I often consider the world to be a Buddhist test. I pride myself to be able to wish everybody well — regardless. This time I failed that test. Not only did I get pissed — I relished the feeling of righteous anger.

You see, I got ganged up on in Twitter.  I was bullied as a child and really really don’t like being ganged up on. Then a crowd of boys pushed me down the steep hill that was behind the elementary school playground. This time it was retweets and likes on a homophobic Bible verse that was sent to me.  It did not matter that this was a Christian gang. I still got pissed.

I read and reread the verse. It was from Romans and part of it reads: “…for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust toward another.”

First of all, the “natural use of the woman” — really?!

Secondly, this verse tells us that there were LGBTQ people in Biblical times. Of course, we knew that, but this confirms that our tribe was there.

8A5D1B01-98C5-4870-AF58-D8811F32D501

If anything, this Bible verse (which I have seen before) should be ignored. It also points out the necessity of re-writing the Bible which I did in THEY, a biblical tale of secret genders ( Adelaide Books).

I was ganged up on by this virtual mob during Pride. My first thought was shame, shame, shame. This is what we used to say during the LGBTQ Pride March in NY where we used to stop and point at the religious right people protesting the parade and chant back at them.

Shame on you for trying to make me feel bad about myself. And shame for trying to make a whole group of people feel bad about themselves.  What’s the point? Usually, homophobia has a fair amount of twinkle, twinkle (what you say is what you are) in it.

This is what I thought at first. But then I started to wonder what makes a homophobic right religious person tick. For surely by  driving people away from the church — it isn’t self preservation.

So I went to the major offender’s Twitter page and the first thing I saw was a donation button. Ah, money, I thought. That’s what they’re thinking. Then I saw a video about the migration of a certain Bible from Scotland to a recent “presidential” photo op in front of the church near the White House after the protestors in the street were scattered with tear gas.

I loved it when I saw that Mitt Romney was marching in the street with the Black Lives Matter protestors.  He was marching with a group of evangelical Christians who were singing “This Little Light of Mine.” Even if they came late to the party, they came. And even if some of these folks still oppose LGBTQ rights — other evangelicals (usually younger ones) are secure in their sexuality and are more open minded.

On this Twitter page (of the person who sent the homophobic Bible verse) there is no mention of justice and no mention of Jesus. There is no mention of goodness.

There is no mention that those protesting George Floyd’s murder are right — and that they are bending the moral arc of history toward justice.

We are at a pivotal moment in history — but not to back the forces of hate.

The young people are shaping the world that they want to live in.

Listen to them.

They are not your enemy.

 

To learn more about my novel THEY, a biblical tale of secret genders (published by Adelaide Books New York/Lisbon), click here.

8E64A0FC-0D0A-46DB-A849-66D7D12B8170

 

 

This morning, I helped with a Unitarian Universalist service based on the lifting up of Pride. The service was about magic and being the hero of your own story.

The YouTube video of my talk  is below. The complete text of my talk is below that.  The service took place at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Restoration on Stenton Ave. in Philadelphia.

Happy Pride

This is what I used to say every June to our legion of friends, old and new, when we were in every New York Pride Parade for years.

The New York Pride events were, of course, cancelled this year. Pride usually draws a large amount of people from all over the country.  It’s estimated that two million people have attended New York Pride each year in recent years.

My partner, Barbara, and I weren’t planning on going this year and we haven’t been to Pride for years. Although we would like to go again and see our friends in Brooklyn who we stay with. Even so, even with all the tragedy going on around us, I was momentarily taken aback a few months ago when I heard Pride was cancelled.

Pride is that much a part of me.

The LGBTQ community has earned Pride.  But I do not think that having pride should be limited to one group of people.  Everybody should be proud of themselves.  As the late, great, writer Toni Morrison said, “You are your own best thing.”

She was speaking, of course, about true pride, or self-love or empowerment – whatever you want to call it. This kind of feeling good about yourself, does not rest upon feeling negatively about another group.  That’s not pride. Unfortunately, we’ve been seeing far too much of it and it’s heartbreaking – to say the least.  One could argue that hatred of others begins with self-hate.

Pride was born in the protests of the Stonewall Inn, which became a week-long riot in 1969. The people with the least to lose – those who couldn’t pass in straight society, the butch lesbians and the drag queens – exploded one night during yet another police raid on a gay bar. Raids were customary then. Gay people were routinely carted off to jail, their names were published in the newspapers. They lost their jobs – and often their families.

Ten years later, there was another riot, after the assassination of Harvey Milk, a small business owner and politician in San Francisco. The man who assassinated him, a former firefighter, got off lightly on a charge of manslaughter and used what has since come to be called “the twinkie defense” – meaning that his legal team used the excuse that he ate too much junk food which led to his criminal behavior. After this sentencing, a peaceful candlelight vigil turned into a riot outside San Francisco’s city hall which involved setting buildings and police cars on fire.

 

lesbian statue of libertyA few years after Harvey Milk was assassinated, I attended the premier screening of the documentary The Times of Harvey Milk (the first movie) at the Roxy on Sansom Street. I was young then, in my early twenties, and recently out as a lesbian. I still remember sitting in the dark theater and listening to the crying of those around me – mostly gay men.

Both riots – and there were others too – were before my time, but they are part of my history.

My partner and myself have lived in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia for a long time. We’ve had our problems with homophobia – even here in liberal Mt. Airy – but for the most part we have been met with acceptance. And that’s the way it should be. Of course, we should have equality. All people should have equality. This acceptance, no doubt, is why I sometimes take LGBTQ rights for granted.

These days, I’m probably more excited about going to a plant-based diet (which I did last fall for health reasons).  When I found out that this diet has a favorable effect on the planet, I was even more jazzed.

I’ve long been in favor of cultivating the earth — not just because it is the right thing, but because it is interesting. I’m a second-generation organic gardener, and I like bees. And I like planting bee balm and lavender and other plants that bees like.

But what I’m really excited about in going to a plant-based diet is feeling like I have a new lease on life. And I’m excited to be part of a global community.

There was a time when I felt the same way about coming out as a lesbian. Coming out in the early 1980s, meant that I didn’t have to erase myself and it meant that I had a tribe.

Recently, when reading a quote by the important gay writer Steve Abbott, I became very excited. The quote is about intersectionality and was made far before that term was commonly used. Steve died in 1992 of complications due to AIDS when he was forty-eight.

In his ahead of his time essay “Will We Survive the Eighties,” Abbott writes:

“It is clear that what we are doing now … is killing us all. And as we project these attitudes onto other species and towards the Earth’s ecological system, we are jeopardizing our very planet. I would argue that we can no longer afford to see anything – not even ‘gay liberation’ or our survival — as a separate issue needing a separate cultural or a political or a spiritual agenda. This does not mean I intend to renounce my sexual orientation, far from it. Even in times of sadness or loneliness, it remains my greatest source of strength and joy.”

As I read Beautiful Aliens, A Steve Abbott Reader edited by Jamie Townsend and published recently, I was reminded that we all have our stories and that we were all forged in fire.

In 1992, I was at a writing program in Boulder Colorado, when I was scheduled to have a one on one critique session with Steve Abbott.  He was at the program but had to leave early because he was sick with full blown AIDS. Nearly thirty years later, a review copy of his book showed up in my mailbox. I did not know it was being published and I had not requested it.

To me, this was one more experience that proves that the universe works in mysterious ways.

I became Unitarian Universalist later in life – after fifty – when I found a religion that agreed with me. In particular, the Seventh Principle rings true:  Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

We are all connected.

 

 

–Namaste–

 

To learn more about my novel THEY, a biblical tale of secret genders (published by Adelaide Books New York/Lisbon), click here.
8E64A0FC-0D0A-46DB-A849-66D7D12B8170

 

Today is Pentecost in the Christian tradition. There was a time, when the word “Pentecost” just conjured little white churches in central Pennslytucky that I knew with a shudder that I should avoid. (Even driving by on the turnpike was a hazard.) But I am now past that. I am really am curious.  I researched the Christian holiday of Pentecost a while ago for my novel The Unicorn, The Mystery (being published later this year by Adelaide Books) and found that doves were routinely shoved through a little hole in the ceilings of cathedrals in the Middle Ages. (Doves represented the Holy Sprit and before that they were associated with Aphrodite.)  Perhaps there really is nothing new.

The minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church I attend (now digitally) is from a Christian-background and mentioned that today was the holiday of Pentecost in his background. Then he went on to talk about the events of the day which truly are grim.

6D706DC3-3760-4AC1-91D4-480A12E38988

Later,  I received two comments online relating to Pentecost. The first comment was from a colleague I’m friendly with. She quoted a passage from what I assume is the Acts chapter in the New Testament. The quote ended with: “ever with the cross that turns not back.”

I approached this Bible verse like a riddle. To me, not turning back is persistence. 

The second comment I received was from a not so friendly source. It was written in response to my novel THEY, a biblical tale of secret genders. He told me that Christ demands the complete and full surrender of self. Then he said, “This not only includes acting upon same sex attraction but all sin.”

I have to confess to being raised secular— something that I have always considered a blessing — so I may have missed something. But I think I was just insulted.

I’m a practicing Buddhist.  That’s my root religion in my Unitarian Universalist faith. As such, I rarely comment on anything personal about my harassers. But I looked at this guy’s Twitter profile and saw that he looked more than a little light in his loafers. He is young looking and rather effeminate. In fact, if he hadn’t just insulted me, I’d think we both played for the same team.

He described himself as a “Catholic who’s doing his best and discerning the priesthood.” Now I don’t know what the latter part of that means. But I do understand the first part. The question is what is he doing his best at? Does he mean that he’s doing his best in his avoidance of same sex attraction? If so, what is his best? Does he act on his same sex attractions now and then?

I hear that thinking you’re engaging in a sinful act might make things seem forbidden, and therefore “hotter.” But to me, it’s easier to believe that there is no such thing as “sin.”  I’ve heard it said that Jesus never said one word about “homosexuality” being a sin.

I’ve come to understand that Jesus is about justice.

In my research today about the holiday of Pentecost, I learned that the holiday is often called White Sunday or WhitSun. And I learned that the wearing of red is customary.

If it is White Sunday — then it is time for white people to stand up for justice. And this time — as in too many instances — it’s about racial justice. As a practicing Buddhist, I try to stay away from anger. But people have a right to their anger and often when it starts, it can’t be stopped. It’s perfectly understandable.

The senseless murder of George Floyd is an outrage. Thinking of yourself as above the law or as the law — is a mindset that has to be stopped. 

The golden rule of ethics (included in the New Testament) of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, is a creed that we live by.

It’s time for justice.

“…. ever with the cross that turns not back.”

 

To learn more about my novel THEY, a biblical tale of secret genders (published by Adelaide Books New York/Lisbon), click here.

8E64A0FC-0D0A-46DB-A849-66D7D12B8170

This piece is airing worldwide this week on This Way Out (TWO), the syndicated LGBT radio show.  Click here to listen to the entire show.

(TWO is the first international LGBTQ radio news magazine.)

 

Beautiful Aliens

A Steve Abbott Reader

Edited by Jamie Townsend

“Will We Survive the Eighties” is the hypothetical question that titles an essay written by Steve Abbott, a gay man and a leading figure in the 1980s avant-garde literary community based in San Francisco.

In 1992, when attending Naropa University’s creative writing program. I was scheduled to have a one on one critique session with Steve Abbott – but he wasn’t there. He had attended the program and had given a reading and a workshop but had to leave early because he was sick with full blown AIDS.

Nearly three decades later, in 2019, Beautiful Aliens, A Steve Abbott Reader edited by Jamie Townsend was published by Nightboat Books in New York.

Abbott survived the 1980s but just barely. He died in 1992 when he was forty-eight.

Abbott was many things – a poet, critic, novelist, and poetic cartoonist – but as his daughter Alysia Abbott (the author of Fairyland, a memoir about her relationship with her father), writes in the afterward of Beautiful Aliens:

“…his work was about building community. It was about hand-illustrating posters for the readings he organized…..It was about going out and engaging young men and women in classrooms but also in the cafes, bars, and bookstores around San Francisco, sharing his vast knowledge and encouraging them to add their voices to queer culture, in whatever way they could, even if that culture wasn’t getting mainstream attention. He knew how important it was to support voices on the edge, writers that were pushing boundaries and weren’t interested in keeping their readers comfortable.”

I found Beautiful Aliens, a selection of Abbott’s writings, mesmerizing.  For one thing, there were so many overlapping areas that we had in common – queer writing conferences that were important to me, and favorite poets and writers such as the lesbian icon Judy Grahn.

C11C0F75-FE3E-486C-AE90-166FE2DD0F11

I also found that Abbott was a writer who, in so many ways, was ahead of his time, and still has much to tell us.  In his prescient essay “Will We Survive the Eighties,” Abbott writes:

“It is clear that what we are doing now … is killing us all. And as we project these attitudes onto other species and towards the Earth’s ecological system, we are jeopardizing our very planet. I would argue that we can no longer afford to see anything – not even ‘gay liberation’ or our survival — as a separate issue needing a separate cultural or a political or a spiritual agenda.

This does not mean I intend to renounce my sexual orientation, far from it. Even in times of sadness or loneliness, it remains my greatest source of strength and joy.”

 

I found Beautiful Aliens, A Steve Abbott Reader edited by Jamie Townsend, published by Nightboat Books in New York to be that rare thing – a voice from the past that addresses the present.

 

To learn more about my novel THEY, a biblical tale of secret genders (published by Adelaide Books New York/Lisbon), click here.

 

THEY Scottie