It’s Been a While…

I’ve not been updating the blog for a while.  I became bored with myself and the need to incessantly post to promote the “brand”; that brand being my website and my services as a licensed psychotherapist.  I find it a bit distasteful to self-promote.  I want to help people, not market a “brand.”  So I let the blog go for a while.

But like Freddy Krueger from the “Nightmare on Elm Street” movies would say, “I’m back!”

Too much has happened for me to keep my mouth shut.  And I can no longer assume that other good people will pick up the mantle to continue the work of promoting purpose, health, tolerance, and economic well-being for all who desire it and are willing to work, and sometimes, work very hard to have and maintain these simple yet critical components of life.

So yes, I’m back.  And I’ll be around for a while.

Not promoting a brand.  Just a voice in the wilderness saying, “Look over here at what I found!  What do you think it means?”



On Christmas Eve, this “gynandromorph” Cardinal perches alone

sn-cardinalA gynandromorph is an organism that contains both male and female characteristics. The term gynandromorph, from Greek “gyne” female and “andro” male. (Wikipedia)

I came across this fascinating article on the rare occurrance of a gynadromorph in birds.  It appears that this phenomena is must more frequent in butterflies, but very rare in other species.

Quoting the article “Half-male, half-female bird has a rough life” by David Malakoff of

“This bird might look like a holiday ornament, but it is actually a rare half-female, half-male northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis, pictured with female plumage on the left and male plumage on the right) spotted a few years ago in Rock Island, Illinois. Researchers have long known such split-sex “gynandromorphs” exist in insects, crustaceans, and birds. But scientists rarely get to extensively study a gynandromorph in the wild; most published observations cover just a day or so. Observers got to follow this bird, however, for more than 40 days between December 2008 and March 2010. They documented how it interacted with other birds and even how it responded to recorded calls. The results suggest being half-and-half carries consequences: The cardinal didn’t appear to have a mate, and observers never heard it sing, the researchers report this month in The Wilson Journal of Ornithology. On the other hand, it wasn’t “subjected to any unusual agonistic behaviors from other cardinals,” according to the paper. Intriguingly, another gynandromorph cardinal sighted briefly in 1969 had the opposite plumage, they note: the male’s bright red plumes on the right, the drabber female feathers on the left.”

One can only hope that the human species is at least as tolerant, and perhaps even kind when such individuals exist in our world.   🙂

Cyndi Lauper’s ‘True Colors Residence’ a Dream Come True for LGBT Youth []

HARLEM — Pop star Cyndi Lauper shed tears all throughout the ceremony dedicating True Colors Residences, New York state’s first permanent supportive housing facility for LGBT youth in Harlem Friday.

And then she stood up and channelled all that emotion into powerful a capella version of the 1986 hit song the $11 million facility is named after.

“I believe a strong society is an inclusive society. If we want to win big then we’d better include everybody because we need everybody,” said Lauper, a co-founder of the facility and outspoken gay rights activist.

Sitting in the audience at Colonel Charles Young Triangle, Priscilla Rumnit, 21 and Angela Louis, 23, two of the building’s first occupants, said they had goosebumps during the rendition because they couldn’t believe they finally had a place to call home.

Louis, who is transgender, says she was kicked out of her home at 16. She has bounced from shelter to shelter and never had a place of her own until now. Rumnit, 21, has been moving around since her mom died when she was 14.

“It’s hard out here. It’s so hard,” said Rumnit. “Now we have someplace to go that’s ours.”

“These are not tears of sadness,” added Louis.

The six-story energy efficient building is located on West 154th Street between Frederick Douglass Boulevard and Macombs Place. Residents of the 30 studio units must be between the ages of 18 and 24 when they enter.

They will have access to a computer room, laundry, outdoor space, recreational room and also receive voluntary support services to learn life skills as well as to get help with job training and educational services. The building is part of the Section 8 program which means residents will pay 30 percent of their income in rent.

“Please know you are safe. We welcome you to your new home and we stand behind you on your journey,” said Colleen Jackson, executive director of West End Intergenerational Residence, which will manage the facility.

Jackson said the idea for the facility came about from a conversation she had with Lauper and Lisa Barbaris of So What Management in 2007. The group wondered what else they could do to help LGBT youth.

“We don’t need another shelter. What we need is permanent supportive housing for this population,” Jackson recalled saying.

There are an estimated 3,800 homeless youth, according to a  July 2007 study by the Empire State Coalition of Youth and Family Services. A June 2010 report by the city’s Commission for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Runaway and Homeless Youth found between 15 and 40 percent of that group identify as LGBT.

“This is fabulous. It is much needed and long overdue in our community for the LGBT community,” said Central Harlem Councilwoman Inez Dickens as she toured one of the units.

The journey to Friday’s ribbon cutting was not an easy one. While they were trying to secure financing for the project, the housing market and banking industry was near collapse.

The Manhattan Borough President’s office was able to assign $500,000 of public money to help with construction financing. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development provided $3.78 million in construction and permanent loans through the federal HOME program.

“Getting the most simple thing done was extremely difficult. Getting something like True Colors was….stepping outside of their comfort zone,” said William Traylor, president of Richman Housing Resources.

Eventually, Citi Community Capital was able to provide $6 million in construction financing, said its director, Bill Yates.

“On a credit call I’ve never used the term LGBT. I’ve never said Cyndi Lauper,” said Yates.

Louis showed of her studio with pride. She was particularly happy about the long hallway and the closet space. There’s even has a closet in the bathroom and the stove runs on gas. Louis refuses to smoke in her room.

Both Louis and Rumnit, who work as home health aides, said they plan on going back to school to further their educations now that they have stable, permanent housing.

“There’s not a lot of people that have a loud voice about LGBT issues,” said Louis. “There are no words. [Lauper] did something so good. She doesn’t understand.”

According to Lauper, that’s not exactly true. The plan now is to build more True Color facilities, she said.

“We need more place like this,” said Lauper. “By the time they are ready to move on in the world they will be rockin’.”

Read more:

McDonalds Transgender Victim of Beating Comes Forward []

Anyone in my predicament should not be afraid to walk the streets,” Polis said. “They should not have to go into a restaurant and get gawked at and made fun of. They shouldn’t be afraid to leave the house. It’s just wrong.

Max Read — Chrissy Lee Polis, the 22-year-old transgender woman who was the subject of a video-recorded beating in a Baltimore-area McDonald’s last week, spoke out for the first time in an interview with The Baltimore Sun.

Polis’ account confirms most of the Facebook-driven speculation that she’d been targeted for using a woman’s bathroom. She says the attack was “definitely a hate crime,” and tells the Sun that the dissemination of the tape on the internet has worsened the aftermath of the assault:

She said seeing herself all over the Internet and all over the news has been “like walking out of the closet all over again.” Polis is concerned that the public attention could trigger more violence – and worries it could hurt her chances of getting a job. “I want to cry, but I need to hold my head up,” she said.

Though hate crime charges against Polis’ attackers—said by police to be two women ages 14 and 18—haven’t yet been filed, the state’s attorney says that a review will take place next week to determine “if [they] need to make additional charges.” The McDonald’s employee who recorded the video has been fired, and the franchise owner says he may take further action against other employees.

[Baltimore Sun]!5795129/mcdonalds-beating-video-victim-comes-forward

Why Gay Students Fight for Acceptance At Religious Colleges []

Margaret Hartmann — At many Bible colleges and evangelical Christian universities, homosexuality is considered a violation of the school’s fundamental values. Yet, many gay students are pushing administrators to allow them to be open about their sexuality, without much success.

The New York Times reports that many of the schools have vague rules against “homosexual behavior.” On evangelical campuses, where sex outside of marriage is banned for all students, it may be permissible to say you’re struggling with same-sex attraction, but acting on those feelings is grounds for expulsion. However, the line is hazy for homosexual students. A student may be disciplined for promoting their gay identity, even if they aren’t having intercourse.

Jean-Noel Thompson, the vice president for student life at Abilene Christian University in Texas, says the school wants to “give help and guidance” to those who are struggling with homosexual feelings, but won’t tolerate “a student who in e-mails, on Facebook and elsewhere says ‘I am publicly gay, this is a lifestyle that I advocate regardless of where the university stands.'”

Harding University in Arkansas recently banned an online queer zine on campus. The school tried to block the site on its servers, but the zine went viral among students at religious colleges. Harding’s president, David B. Burks, told students that “we are not trying to control your thinking,” but that “it was important for us to block the Web site because of what it says about Harding, who we are, and what we believe.”

An obvious question is why gay students choose to attend a school that they know fundamentally oppose homosexuality in the first place. The Times reports:

The question, students say, is unfair. Many were raised in intensely Christian homes with an expectation of attending a religious college and long fought their homosexuality. They arrive at school, as one of the Harding Web authors put it, “hoping that college would turn us straight, and then once we realized that this wasn’t happening, there was nothing you could do about it.”

Some students transfer and often wind up joining more liberal churches or becoming atheists. The ones who stay and push for more tolerant policies fight an uphill battle. Saralyn Salisbury, a lesbian Baylor University senior, participates in weekly gathering of the Sexual Identity Forum, even though the school refuses to acknowledge the club. “The student body at large is ready for this,” she says. “But not the administration and the Regents.” While many young evangelicals are more accepting of homosexuality, for now the schools are run by administrators who believe the only moral reaction to same-sex attraction is to push students to suppress their feelings, not explore them.

Even On Religious Campuses, Students Fight For Gay Identity [NYT]!5793406/gay-students-fight-for-acceptance-at-religious-colleges

Acceptance and Loss and Being Yourself

Fall Flowers

“If we deny love that is given to us, if we refuse to give love because we fear pain or loss, then our lives will be empty, our loss greater.” – Anonymous

“The greater your capacity to love, the greater your capacity to feel the pain.” – Jennifer Aniston

I’m in a reflective mood today.  Perhaps even a bit nostalgic.  You see, even therapists have real lives.  I face the same things any other person faces: successes and failures, courage and fear, love and loss.  We are all affected by the ebb and flow of life.  None of us can or should escape from our feelings during changes in one’s life.

I have experienced a recent loss of a dear relative.  I say this not to evoke sympathy, but to share the experience of love and loss.  This individual was an accepting, loving person.  Indeed, she was there for me when it seemed no one else was; when it seemed that there was no acceptance to be found, at one time in my life, even within myself.

She taught me a lot about acceptance of one’s self and one’s flaws.  She conveyed important truths that though one may not understand why decisions are made and how, acceptance and love do not require that we understand all things.  Acceptance and love require that we are okay with “not knowing” but being willing to let things unfold over time.

So often in life the drive for validation can be a terrible burden.  It can derail relationships.  It can create a distance or chasm between relationships that need not be there.  Seeking validation from others can be a huge deception, because it puts an unfair burden on those who would want to love us anyway, and it keeps us from facing ourselves and growing into an acceptance of who we are.

The unrelenting drive for validation prevents one from being loved.

My aunt taught me that validation is not her job.  That was my job.  Her “job” was to be herself.  Being able to accept one’s self enables you to love and accept others.

That was the lesson she taught by how she lived.

In the end, life is not how others value you, it is how you value yourself.

The most important lesson, the greatest challenge, with the sweetest reward.

RIP Aunt Pat.