My Weekend Warrior Profile (Cross-posted)

This entry was originally published on the Sojourner House blog on May 30th (link here). I’m republishing it here so that people can find it with more ease. There will be more writings on my career path for those interested in following it or doing something similar too! Also, it’s important to note that the WW feature was heavily inspired and modified from The CSPH’s “Hump Day Heroes” feature. Credit where credit is due!

Every weekend, we feature different individuals (“Weekend Warriors”) that are working around social justice and making a change in the world so that we can all live free from violence and oppression. The goal of this project is to raise awareness of the work that is currently being done, highlight the amazing people doing it (with a focus on Rhode Island) and show the varied paths people have taken to this kind of social change. At its core, this project is about empowerment and building community!

What kind of work do you do?

I often find myself with my spoons in multiple pots at once. Broadly defined, I do sexuality education, project management, and public speaking. While not something I’m actively pursuing right now, I’ve also done more direct community organizing and digital literacy instruction. That has been really fun, especially when working with the elderly and with immigrant communities.

Where are you based out of (geographically-speaking)? Do you work as an individual, as part of an agency, or…?

Currently based out of Rhode Island, but the Internet is my playground, and I’m moving to Boston in the Fall. Right now various agencies have joint-custody of my time! I also do some individual work on the side. My almost 3-year term at Sojourner House as the Sexual Health Advocate (and seasonal Vagina Queen as a colleague called me) is ending on June 30th, and I’m incredibly proud of the work I’ve done with the agency—a lot of innovative, wonderful stuff (including this project, so filling this out feels very meta).

The other primary place where I work is The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health, a sexuality training and education organization devoted to reducing sexual shame, fighting misinformation, and elevating the sexuality field.

Outside of those two main projects, I do sporadic educational work for youth on behalf of Partners in Sex Education and I also deliver community presentations through Good Vibrations’ SHOW program as an offsite sex educator.

What things do you focus on? What are your specialties?

Sex(uality)! But that’s a simplistic answer. For me, sexuality is my focus, but that’s a fairly broad category that encompasses reproductive rights, issues of gender and orientation, healthy relationships, communication skill-building, the mechanics of pleasurable sex, and more. My primary areas of focus right now are LGBTQ issues, domestic violence (as well as sexual assault), sexual health education, and HIV. It’s funny because for a while I didn’t want to work on issues of DV and HIV, and instead wanted to focus more on niche topics that didn’t have a lot of folks working on them, like BDSM/kink and polyamory, but I realized that there was (and is) still a lot to be done in the realms of HIV and domestic violence, especially as far as inclusion for varied identities is concerned. I’ve had the privilege of working on “mainstream issues” while also making space for those more marginalized experiences and communities, and that’s what I hope to continue doing—connecting struggles and knowledge instead of having them sectioned off from each other (though that at times is necessary).

What are your goals and passions in this field?

I love bridging gaps with information and connections, getting people the resources they need when they need them. Also anything related to marginalized identities speaks to me on both a personal and professional level, especially because often too many people speak “on behalf” of communities they’re not a part of instead of standing together in solidarity with those folks and lifting THEIR voices up. I want to get it right. To that end, I hope to keep juggling many projects (both clinical and macro) in service of my communities.

I’m passionate about making conversations about sexuality and health easier to have, fostering diversity through a lens of paying attention to our intersecting identities, and fighting for sexual freedom and wholeness. What do I want to see? I want survivors of violence and abuse to feel empowered. I want clinicians to provide competent care to their “alternative” clients. I want us to use positive messages instead of shame to reduce negative health outcomes, and even redefine what “negative health outcomes are.” I want more representation of multiple bodies, genders, sexualities, races in the media. I want us to recognize the connections between different forms of violence. I want accessible reproductive healthcare for everyone. I want people’s autonomy to be respected. I can keep going… I just want EVERYTHING!

Why did you choose to start working in this field and what has kept you motivated to continue?

This video interview someone did with me actually sums it up pretty well. Long story short, as a queer Latina, when I arrived at Brown University I knew I wanted to work on issues of LGBTQ rights and racial justice. My life since then has taken some twists and turns, but that’s been at the core of it all. I branched out into sexuality education more specifically, but it’s all rooted in wanting social justice and being able to focus on achieving that through the things about which I’m passionate.

In a nutshell, seeing how far we’ve come but how much we still have yet to do is what keeps me motivated. Also super crucial? Being surrounded by key people who are amazing, valuable human beings also devoted to doing this work, or supporting those who do it. Creating/finding and nurturing a community has been vital for me.

Where did you go for school/training?

Brown University was my undergraduate home, and I emerged with a Bachelor of Arts in Gender and Sexuality Studies. I’m about to head off to graduate school this Fall to pursue my Masters in Social Work at Boston University. Outside of that, I’ve gone to a LOT of professional development events and conferences, probably more than one single person should ever go to! I just love learning a lot and being able to get that knowledge in varied ways, not just from a university. Locally, the Rhode Island Foundation has been a great local resource in learning more about nonprofit management.

Have you published any material (books, articles online, etc)?

No books published yet, but a project is brewing so I’m excited to see where that might go. I’ve also contributed to the last 3 issues of #24MAG (www.24mag.org) and my favorite piece was one I wrote about ASMR (Auto Sensory Meridian Response) for Issue 4.

Outside of that, my writing has been on the back-burner while I’ve been busy with other endeavors, but I co-edited “Sexual Health Education and Policy in Medical Schools: The Importance of Incorporating Basic Human Rights into Medical Education and Training” (written by Megan Andelloux) published in the Woodhull State of Sexual Sexual Freedom Report of 2011.

I also self-publish some writing online via my blog (neuronbomb.wordpress.com).

What would you recommend to people who want to work for a more just world, free of violence and oppression? Any tips on how to get into this line or work?

Figure out what unique skills you have (or can develop) and see how THOSE can fit into the larger fight for social justice. Not everyone has to be a public speaker or community organizer. Movements need a variety of talents—we need organizers, yes, but we also need bookkeepers, lawyers, people who can make huge meals, people with coding experience, interpreters, comedians, the list goes on.

Also, know that you can be an amazing contributor to movements without being or making yourself a martyr. Being able to set boundaries, ask for help, and take time to refocus and have some time to oneself = crucial skills that usually need to be honed with practice.

Take advantage of any opportunities that come your way, and soak in as much knowledge as you can.

Finally, make sure you nurture strong networks and give back to the community (there are many ways to do that), not just because those connections may serve you in the future, but because we’re all in this together and we cannot simply fight to get ourselves to the top–we should be working to help our communities, those who are marginalized by our current social systems, and those at the intersections.

What is the most personally challenging aspect of your career?

Not having enough time for all the things I want to do or need to do! Or feeling like I have no more help or resources to give someone, whether it’s because I’ve exhausted every option available to them, or because their issues are over my head and require intervention from someone with more clinical expertise. It can also be really tough to see people face the same problems over and over and feel powerless to do something about it. I’ve had some really terrible interactions with certain government or housing officials that have outright lied about hearings with clients, and confronting the reality of corruption can be really disheartening.

Outside of that, there are the obvious challenges of sometimes being persecuted for tackling taboo subjects or denied access to certain things due to prejudice…but that’s not personal/unique!

If you had to recommend one book and/or one film to our audience, what would you suggest?

“RACE: The Power of an Illusion” was a really fascinating documentary. By the time I saw it, I had already had my mind blown with the idea that race was a social construction, but this film did a great job at explaining a lot of the different ways we’ve understood race throughout U.S. history, and taking into account how race and class intersect with each other. Everyone should watch it!

As far as books go, “The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within ActivistCommunities” is crucial for those seeking to learn more about IPV in activism-focused spaces, to see why speaking up is hard, what transformative justice can be, and what are the complications of enduring abuse from a “well-respected” activist.

Please list where we can find you online! (Website, Twitter, Facebook, Website, other Social Media/Online Websites)

Primary Blog: http://aidamanduley.com (or smutandsensibility.com)
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/neuronbomb
Assorted collection of sites: http://neuronbomb.flavors.me

Supporting Your Local Veg-Places

So this blog isn’t just about sex and sexuality, though those are the topics I most frequently address.

I want to talk about the importance of supporting businesses that are vegetarian- and vegan-friendly. Even if you aren’t vegetarian or vegan, by keeping places like that in business, you make it much easier for people who ARE to have places to go. You make it so that EVERYONE has easier access to vegetarian/vegan products, and for some people, this is really really important; these are ethical, not just dietary, choices they are making.

Often, I’m of the mind of “CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP! SAVE MONEY!” but one SHOULD put ethics and different types of value (it’s not just about the money, folks) before the cash. My primary partner lives like this. He doesn’t often splurge on goods, especially while living on a meager Americorps salary, but you’ll never see him at, say, a Wal-Mart. He makes purchases from business that somehow align with his ethics, as much as he can manage to do it.

So while my first instinct is to dive into bargain bins and immediately go for the cheap stuff, or go to stores with crazy sales, this summer I have been (and hopefully will continue to be) more discerning, especially since I have my family’s economic support and can afford to do so. When I have to support MYSELF it shall be another issue, since I’ll have to be dealing with my own finances, but for now, this is my plan. Because I hope to stay true to my ethics, though, I’ll try my best to put my money where my mouth is even when I’m the sole breadwinner in my life.

That’s great and all, but how do I know which places are veg-friendly if I, myself, am an omnivore? Well lucky for you, I’ve compiled a list of awesome places you should support! Now it should be easy-peasy.

Suggestions for vegan/veggie-friendly food-places in Rhode Island (mainly in Providence, unsurprisingly):

  • FOO(d) – The AS220 Café
    • Super inexpensive AND delicious (one of my favorite things to get is their crispy chickpeas appetizer). Their priciest dish is only $10, and they have a bunch of vegetarian and vegan options. The atmosphere is fun, though it can get loud when bands are playing in the AS220 performance space. If you like a hip joint with cheap and awesome food, definitely go. One of my favorite places in Rhode Island, hands down. The free WiFi is also nice, and there’s a bar located in the restaurant space too, if that’s your fancy. Depending on when you go, it can be a nice place to read and chill out. They also have outdoors seating, which is great when the air is cool.
  • White Electric Coffeehouse
    • American deli style, with a sweet artsy vibe. Some of my favorite items on the menu? Cranberry-walnut bread, hot chocolate, and cheddar/avocado sandwiches. Om nom nom. Also very decently-priced, and there’s free WiFi! Another great place to go to get some food and catch up on your reading. It’s fairly small, though, so it can’t seat large groups or anything.
  • Fire+Ice Grill & Bar
    • Mongolian BBQ place where you choose your own raw ingredients (vegetarian ones are marked with a green label, and the staff can fry your stuff in a separate pan), put them all in a bowl, and then see them stir-fried right before your eyes. You can also taste the sauces before committing to one for your dish. It’s a fun place with bright colors, and it’s decently-priced. Mondays are college-nights and dinner is $10 with a valid college-ID. This place is good for big groups because it’s huge (seats 326!), unlike most of the others on this list, which are more medium/small-sized. 
  • United BBQ
    • Cheap food, with a variety of vegetarian AND vegan options, all in the style of a typical BBQ place. Check out their menu! If you hate the idea of BBQ places because, well, they do offer meat, maybe skip out. Otherwise, I recommend it.  
  • Julian’s
    • One of my favorite places in Rhode Island, hands down. SO GOOD. SO DELICIOUS. There’s something for every price-range (e.g. dinner stuff ~$8-$28), the restaurant itself is charming and artsy, and the bathroom (yes, the bathroom) is adorable. Everything about this place is awesome. JUST GO. TRUST ME. They serve brunch & dinner, and they have a bar. GO GO GO.
  • The Garden Grille
    • A small, casual restaurant that serves “American” vegetarian food and has vegan options. They’re also a juice-bar, if you’re into that. It’s one of the more expensive v-friendly restaurants in Rhode Island, but many say it’s worth it. Their priciest entrees are ~$15.
  • The Like No Udder ice-cream truck (you can also follow them on Twitter and Facebook)
    • An adorable purple ice-cream truck with none of the dairy and ALL of the flavor. They serve smooth, smooth soft-serve (vanilla and/or chocolate, with a variety of toppings), shakes, floats, candy bars, and nachos. Everything is vegan AND kosher, and they don’t use any hydrogenated ingredients used. Be aware, though: they only take cash!
  • Nice Slice Pizzeria
    • If you’re looking for a place that serves tasty, tasty vegetarian/vegan pizzas and has a super friendly staff, you’ve found the right place. Nice Slice offers vegan cheese and faux-meat toppings (“chicken, bacon, sausage, steak, and pepperoni”) for their pizzas, and they also serve vegan sandwiches. Awesomeness all-around, plus they deliver and stay open late.
Also, remember that many Indian and Middle-Eastern restaurants are vegetarian-friendly! I’ll specifically mention Kabob N’ Curry on Thayer St. because, not only is it fucking DELICIOUS, but they have a sweet meatless buffet on Saturday mornings (11AM-3PM or so) for ~$9.

    Advertising: Hope, Crying, and Culture

    I often feel a desire to cry during movie previews. Well, not the movie previews, exactly, but some of the ads they play before movies–the ones with swelling music and Spanish words and some bullshit about what it means to be Puerto Rican. The Banco Popular one? Dear lord, it makes me well up like nobody’s business. There’s a longer version out there, but this the version in theaters (and it’s faster-paced):

    Click here for it. Like, I’m watching it right now and I’m tearing up, even though I’ve watched it a bunch of times before. The part where the children’s chorus comes in? Ohhhhh man. If I haven’t cracked by then, that does it. (Of course, I have to be in the zone for the tears to be inevitable; catch me off guard or stressed and I will wave away the ad with annoyance.)

    Anyway, I’ve translated the lyrics for those of you who are Spanish-impaired. 😛

    I’m the light of the morning
    that illuminates new paths,
    that goes flooding the mountains,
    the farmer trails.
    I’m the fruit of the future,
    the seeds of tomorrow,
    planted in pure dung (read: fertilizer)
    of my boricua land.
    I’m a fisherman of dreams;
    I go looking for a sea of spume
    of shells and sands,
    of sirens and moons.
    Of stars and horizons,
    my fortune is composed.
    I’m a sailing seagull and an astronaut of fog.
    Of the bread, I am the yeast that feeds the hope
    of the Puerto Rican man,
    of the awakening of my mother country.
    I bring boricua blood;
    I’m the son of the palm-trees, of the toads (does the song say sapos?) and the rivers
    and of the singing of the coquí,
    of valleys and coffee plantations,
    of sugar-cane and pineapple,
    of guava and mampostiales,
    of tembleque and maví.

    I chose to not translate tembleque, maví, and mampostiales. It feels too weird to see them in English, somehow linguistically reduced, or transformed into something else. But, if you MUST know:

    • mampostiales = “very thick, gooey candy bars of caramelized brown sugar and coconut chips, challenging to chew and with a strong, almost molasses-like flavor”
    • tembleque = creamy coconut pudding usually garnished with cinnamon on top
    • maví = “mauby,” a drink! (“The drink or syrup for the drink is made by boiling a specific buckthorn bark, Colubrina elliptica, with sugar and a variety of spices. In looking at individual recipes on how people make mauby, you’ll note spices and flavorings vary exceedingly. Cinnamon is usually included, but then the drink flavoring diverges according to recipe. Some people add cloves, anise, vanilla extract, or cola flavoring. For more info, just check the wiki.”)

    If this doesn’t make your mouth water at least a LITTLE, you should get your salivary glands checked. Anyway. Why do I get so emotional? Part of it is the setting of the theater, of course, that sets the stage (no pun intended); everything is bigger and louder and more intense there, plus the darkness creates an air of intimacy and solitude (that’s more believable when one is not in a packed room with some dingbat kicking the back of one’s seat), or at the very least of uninterrupted connection to what is onscreen. However, even when I’m not in the theater, I can get teary-eyed. It’s the idea of this, well, idealized Puerto Rico. It’s a longing for that, and not coupled with the belief that it’s nonexistent, but with the belief that there IS that beauty and that wonder in the Puerto Rico in which I live–that it’s just a matter of stopping and appreciating it, or finding it, or even just knowing how and when to look. The beautiful visuals and music create an air of hope…and if an ad is going to make me feel something, hope is a fucking fantastic choice. It makes the viewer tune in to that part of themselves, the hopeful part, the part that identifies as Puerto Rican, the part that wants to be proud of the mother country and not ashamed. It’s the part that goes “yes yes yes” during the whole ad.

    To me, advertising is important. Heck, I wanted to GO into advertising for a while! All things being equal, or more or less equal, I WILL give preference to the organization with better ads, not because I believe their product is better, but because I admire their advertising and feel like rewarding them for a job well done. I will purposefully choose to support a company whose ads I like. And speaking of other ads I like, Harris Paints created a CLASSIC with this one:

    Click here.
    This thing was played at EVERY MOVIE SHOWING IN EVERY THEATER (of the Caribbean Cinemas chain, at least, but I’m pretty sure CineVista also played them). It ran for YEARS. People went into a movie and sang along to this during the previews, some in barely audible whispers, others in great, booming voices. It was glorious. They eventually retired the commercial after a bunch of years and everyone got upset. And what does this ad have in common with the Banco Popular one? It invokes our sense of Puerto-Rican-ness AND it has great visuals AND catchy music. It talks about paint colors in terms of Puerto Rican things, colors WE know because we see them every day or we are at least pretty damn familiar with them. Green is not fucking…kelly-green or hunter green or limeade green, it’s “verde quenepa.” Red is this red, of the flamboyán (Royal Poinciana or Flamboyant). Blue is the blue of the cobblestones that line San Juan’s streets. And so on. In fact, here are the lyrics:

    Paint your life
    with the colors of my land.
    Paint your life.
    Piragua strawberry,
    white like coconut,
    mango yellow.
    Quenepa green,
    cobblestone blue,
    flamboyán red,
    turquoise of the sea.
    The colors of my land,
    our colors,
    paint your life
    with the colors
    that Harris gives you.

    Mmm, gotta love appealing to people’s sense of unified culture. I’ll avoid cynicism for now (shocking!). And for clarification, a piragua is like a snowcone, but the top is pointy like a pyramid (not rounded like a snowball). SO yes. Other ads or previews make me cry too, for different reasons. It’s usually the beauty in them, though, that captures me; they’re so intense and beautiful that I just can’t help but tear up. Same thing with music.

    When ECON-speak fails, try Pokemon analogies

    If you don’t know what the hell is going on with the economy and only know that it’s kinda majorly fucked, read on. (This article is resposted from HERE)

    ——

    Economist Kevin Nguyen explains the country’s economic woes to his younger sister, using Pokémon as an analogy. Seriously.

    The following is an actual conversation I had with my younger sister, Olivia. She likes to draw, play World of Warcraft, and now, she’s the only fourteen-year-old girl who understands the U.S. economic crisis.

    Kevin: Have you been following the news?

    Olivia: Yeah, I don’t really get it.

    Kevin: Imagine that I let you borrow $50, but in exchange for my generosity, you promise to pay me back the $50 with an extra $10 in interest. To make sure you pay me back, I take your Charizard Pokémon card as collateral.

    Olivia: Kevin, I don’t play Pokémon anymore.

    Kevin: I’m getting to that. Let’s say that the Charizard is worth $50, so in case you decide to not return my money, at least I’ll have something that’s worth what I loaned out.

    Olivia: Okay.

    Kevin: But one day, people realize that Pokémon is stupid and everyone decides that the cards are overvalued. That’s right—everybody turned twelve on the same day! Now your Charizard is only worth, say, $25.

    Olivia: Uh-huh.

    Kevin: At the same time, you’re having trouble paying back the $60 you owe me. So what would you rather do: try and pay me back the $60 or just default and give me your $25 Charizard?

    Olivia: I’d give you the Charizard.

    Kevin: Exactly. Who wouldn’t? Now, the bank—I mean me—has lost $25 when I expected to make $10. What’s the lesson here?

    Olivia: Pokémon is dumb.

    Kevin: True, but keep going.

    Olivia: That Pokémon cards might be worth less later than they are now?

    Kevin: Close. You just can’t rely on them appreciating in value forever. There’s one other good lesson in this analogy.

    Olivia: That you shouldn’t lend me money?

    Kevin: A-ha, exactly right! You’re fourteen and have no source of income. What would convince me to lend you money if I’m not sure you can pay it back?

    Olivia: Because you could’ve taken my $50 Charizard. So you could have either made $10 or gotten something worth what you gave me. If people didn’t realize Pokémon was dumb, then there was no way for you to lose anything.

    Kevin: Now, instead of a loan of $50, imagine that it’s hundreds of thousands of dollars; then instead of a Pokémon card, it’s your house. The U.S.’s prosperity was built on the idea that real estate/Pokémon would never go down. Multiply this wishful thinking by thousands of people in America and you can see the scale of our problem.

    Since you couldn’t pay me back, I can’t pay my bills and I can’t loan out any more money. Our country is dependent on the ability to borrow money.

    Olivia: That doesn’t make any sense. If I borrow money from you, I’m going to spend it.

    Kevin: Well, the idea is that you’ll spend it in a way that will make you more money in the future—like college or starting a business.

    Olivia: Oh, okay. I have a question for you: did you use the Pokémon example because you think I’m a nerd?

    Kevin: I just wanted to make it easy for you to understand.

    Olivia: Fine. But stop telling people I play World of Warcraft. I’m totally over that.

    Kevin: Don’t worry, Olivia. I used to be into way nerdier things. Have you heard of Magic: The Gathering?

    Olivia: What the hell is that?

    ———–

    A friend of mine said this was only half the picture, so I told him to take a crack at explaining it using the same analogy. This is what he came up with:

    After loaning the $50 to his little sister and taking the Pokemon card as collateral, Kevin makes ten similar $50 loans to his sister’s friends, who each give him another Pokemon card as collateral. So, now he’s got $600 owed to him by ten different people, and an expected profit of $100. Kevin would like to make more Pokemon Read Moreloans, but he doesn’t have the cash available to do it.

    Kevin’s solution is to go to Lyndsey. Lyndsey offers to buy Kevin’s right to collect the Pokemon loans from him for $550 — so that Kevin reduces his profit from $100 to $50, but now has the cash in hand to make more Pokemon loans. Lyndsey is betting that because Kevin has exercised good judgment as a lender and the Pokemon cards are expected to hold their value, she is pretty much assured of a $50 profit…

    Meanwhile, Kevin continues to make Pokemon loans, and Lyndsey continues to buy up those loans from him in ten-loan packages. Now that he doesn’t have to bear the risk of the borrowers failing to pay him back, however, Kevin starts giving Pokemon loans to ANYONE. Random 12-year olds walk in off the street and ask him for loans, he hands out Read Morethe money, and then quickly turns around to sell the loans to Lyndsey.

    Meanwhile, Lyndsey’s loan-buying strategy becomes popular. All of her friends start buying up Pokemon loans as well.

    By the time that Lyndsey realizes that these borrowers are far riskier than she’d thought, Pokemons have been devalued. She is forced to shut down her loan securitization business, files for bankruptcy, and defaults on all of her debts to various other friends. But all of those other friends have made the same risky decisions, though, this causes a domino effect of ever-worsening unpaid debts within her entire social circle.

    Taking Responsibility, Corporate Style

    BLOUNT RESPONDS TO QUESTIONS REGARDING AN EVENT SPONSORSHIP IN RHODE ISLAND.

    FALL RIVER, MA (AUGUST 11, 2009) – Corporate philanthropy and good citizenship has been part of Blount’s mission since inception. In keeping with that, we have a long track record of donating Blount-brand chowder and other products to all non-profits in our home area that request it for events. These donations of soup are just simple gestures of goodwill and were certainly not intended to be interpreted otherwise. It’s very concerning to us that anyone would think otherwise and as a result, we are reviewing our policy going forward.

    Additionally, Blount notified the organizers of the Rhode Island event in question that the company would not be providing a donation, soup or otherwise.

    —————————-

    I repeat: it impossible to construe donations for this event as “simple gestures of goodwill” with no ideological ramifications. If BFF gave donations to EVERY cause that sidled up asking for chowder and products, things would be different, but if they are actively picking and choosing who they donate to, that means they are exercising judgment of some sort and knowingly supporting whatever cause they are sponsoring. Being a sponsor of an event has its obligations and implications, and it’s not like NOM is an organization whose mission is not understood, so the mock surprise and concern on the part of Blount Fine Foods is kind of offensive.

    But regardless of what Blount Fine Foods has ended up doing, the person I’m most pissed at is Christopher Plante–the Executive Director at NOM, Rhode Island Chapter. I personally believe Mr. Plante is a douchebag. That may be harsh, because I believe everyone has positive attributes…but when it comes to civil rights, respect of freedoms, and championing for justice and fairness? No. He fails. And he’s deceitful and deluded.

    In relation to the Tim Horton’s lack of support after a media backlash, Plante said: “They rescinded the offer today as a direct result of the hubbub in Canada,” in this article. “This is an issue only north of the border.” Oh, my mistake. I thought this was an issue in the United States as well. *eyeroll* I don’t care if the local rep for Tim Horton’s approved supporting the event–the company’s policy states that the company “does not sponsor individuals, those representing religious groups, political affiliates, book endorsements or traveling sports teams.” Anyway, my biggest beef with him is because he is, like I said, deceitful and deluded and hypocritical. Let’s start looking at the blatant hipocrisy and ridiculousness, in 3 parts.

    —————————-

    PART ONE: THIS ISN’T RELIGIOUS OR POLITICAL…except it is.

    The celebration will feature food, gospel/worship music, and a chance for couples to renew their wedding vows. It is described (on the event website) thusly: “This is a great opportunity to take a stand for marriage as God ordained it. Our goal is to esteem marriage to its proper place in society and make a statement that Christians in Rhode Island believe strongly in this cherished institution.” *AND YET* Plante says “My concern and my disappointment is that my event has been tainted as religious or political. Neither of those are correct. The event itself was not designed to be political, as a rally would be.” Furthermore, he states that “It’s held by an organization that, whatever you think of our politics, is not religious, we accept folks of all faiths and of no faith.

    WHAT?

    First of all, because the event isn’t “political as a rally would be” doesn’t mean it’s not political. Having a friendly little barbecue with people who share your beliefs is very different from having a big, advertised, sponsored event that actively seeks to further and celebrate the (VERY POLITICAL) missions of your organization.

    Secondly, because you “accept people of all faiths and no faith” doesn’t mean it’s not religious (e.g. a religious/spiritual summit that caters to “everyone,” but is, oh, whaddya know, STILL RELIGIOUS).

    And, finally, let’s review the National Organization for Marriage’s mission:

    The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to protect marriage and the faith communities that sustain it. NOM works to develop political messaging, build its national grassroots email database of voters, and provide political intelligence and donor infrastructure on the state level, with a focus on developing new strategies for increasing influence in the Northeast and West Coast, where marriage is most under threat.

    Nothing further with the witness, Your Honor. Hmph.

    —————————-

    PART TWO: EVERYONE IS WELCOME…except not really.

    “We knew full well in opening this event to the public that we were inviting people who might oppose us,” says Plante. “If they choose to come and enjoy the food and beautiful venue, they’re more than welcome. They’re not welcome to come and protest. We’ll expect them to be respectful and treat us with dignity as we would do with them.”‘ Mmm, respect and dignity. I’d love to get some of that from all you NOM people. OH WAIT. You won’t give it to me. 😐

    Plante’s main argument against the backlash Tim Horton’s and Blount Fine Foods received was based on the supposed fact that the event was “apolitical and non-religious” and that it was “open to everyone.” While the latter may TECHNICALLY be true, allowing queers to go to an event doesn’t mean they SHOULD go or that they’re HAPPILY INVITED or that they’re even WELCOME. It’s like telling a person of color “oh, hey, you can come to this nifty little KKK gathering.” Honestly. Come on, Plante. You’re not buying it and neither are we.

    Plante said that gays and lesbians are welcome to attend the event, and added that if they want to, they may also rise to renew their vows. “If gays and lesbians want to come in with their children, they are more than welcome to come, and make sure they find me, and we’ll have a Coke and sit down and talk.”

    What the article neglected to mention was that the queers could stand if they wanted, sure, but that the vows to be taken will be specific to man and woman, to celebrate heterosexual marriage and will not apply to same sex marriages at all. Like I said–allowing someone to attend and event is VERY different than WELCOMING them at it and making them feel comfortable. I’m fine with you having events for your organization (it’s within your right), but just don’t fucking LIE about them.

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    PART THREE: THIS IS ALL ABOUT GAY BULLIES…except it’s not

    In regards to Plante’s allegations that “This is about the organized approach to squash all private and public comments on marriage” and that Tim Horton’s had been “bullied by a vocal minority” into pulling out of an apolitical celebration that was “open to all,” including same-sex couples. *facepalm* This is not about squashing dialogue! This is about us asking a company to NOT GET INVOLVED AT ALL or at least OWN UP TO what they’re DOING. This is about us saying that, if they take this route of action, there will be consequences.

    It’s within our right to boycott a company whose views we do not agree with, and I feel it’s a perfectly viable way to create pressure for change or just demonstrate our allegiances and funnel money to organizations whose values we agree with. It’s NOT okay for a company to support certain movements and not expect a backlash, and it’s COWARDLY for a company to support something and then back out of it because they fear losing money. I’d prefer a company that is open about the beliefs they espouse than one that flip-flops when the water in the pot starts getting hot. I mean, I’d prefer one that stays out of these debacles in general, or at least supports the side(s) that are all for dialogue and equality and fairness, but that may be asking for much.

    “It’s stressful, it’s sorrowful, it’s saddening,” Plante said. “The marriage equality folks are making this a boycott threat. That’s sad. It has become our job now to remind Rhode Islanders that this is what’s to come.” Um…what does that last sentence even mean? Is he implying that we’re crazy gay bullies who will boycott everything we don’t agree with? Because, well, that’s probably true (save for the bullies part). It’s NOT true, however, that we’re bullying people into not having a right to express themselves.

    Personally, I think this debate about marriage is totally ridiculous and shouldn’t be happening in the first place. An organization like NOM shouldn’t even exist. Why? Because this is not about agreeing with homosexuality or not–this is about EQUALITY and JUSTICE. Kind of like what Voltaire said: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” I don’t care if you love me or hate me, but GIVE ME THE SAME RIGHTS. As a human being and citizen of this country, I’m entitled to them.

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    And now, some ranting:

    • You know what I really FUCKING HATE? When people act victimized to gain sympathy. “Omg, halp, I’m a lil’ intolerant Christian douchebag and my religious rights are being taken away from me! Haaaaalp!” No. Your religious rights are not being taken away. Oh, and if by “religious rights” you mean “right to talk shit about others and advocate for inequality and intolerance and even hatred,” then I really think we need to redefine what “rights” mean. If you had half a brain cell you might realize this, but as long as you’re kissing the ass of the “Gathering Storm” ad and NOM and other organizations like it, you won’t notice. No one is taking your rights away by GRANTING RIGHTS TO OTHERS. This is the whole point of people fighting to allow same-sex couples to marry. One doesn’t even have to agree with homosexuality! One just has to agree with the ideals of equality and choice and freedom and civil rights/liberties.
    • Other things I hate–twisting language to gather sympathy and MANIPULATE THE TRUTH. Oh, I’m “pro-family” and “pro-marriage.” Guess what? Me too! But ohhhh, by pro-family you meant MOM AND DAD AND KIDS family and by pro-marriage you meant OPPOSITE-SEX PARTNER MARRIAGE. Oh, my bad. I thought we were on the same boat, being pro-family and pro-marriage and all, but I guess I was wrong. 😐 (That’s the reason why the pro-choice vs. pro-life labels annoy me a bit, but at least those labels make a little more sense.) That’s why I also think NOM’s name itself is stupid. No, you are not “pro-marriage,” you are pro keeping marriage as a solely male-female institution and keeping the links between specific religions and the state alive and well. You are pro denying same-sex couples the right to marry and get the same rights as opposite-sex couples. You are not pro-marriage; you are pro inequality. Let’s talk straight here (no pun intended) and actually say WHAT WE MEAN.

    G-mail and Intersectionality

    Or, alternatively titled “Why I Love G-mail: Reason Number 69”

    Labels. Simple as that.
    “What? Aida loving LABELS? Sacrilegious!
    No, dear readers. It is true. I love labels (though my relationships with them outside of G-mail is a bit more complicated than that). Labels not only allow me to more effectively organize my virtual correspondence, but their very existence also mirrors my life philosophy (or part of it).

    With other email providers (e.g. Hotmail), we must organize our mail into folders. These make us “choose” where to put something, and an email can only be put into ONE folder at a time. This mirrors the realities of archiving physical papers. You can put a paper in a SINGLE folder. If you wanted to have papers in more than one place, you’d need to make copies, and these would just create clutter, and maybe you wanted to change ONE document and then would have to get all the OTHER copies and…yeah. Inefficient. Plus difficult choices have to be made in regards to classifying correspondence–“Is this more of an X or more of a Y? Hmmm. This has such and such thing, but it ALSO has this other thing, and THAT should be in THIS folder, but THIS should be in this OTHER one…”

    You see the problem?

    Labels, however, allow for things to hypothetically/virtually occupy multiple places at a time. Gone are the days where categories were mutually exclusive and we had to hierarchize an email’s content! We can label emails with “funny,” “financial aid,” “images,” AND “sex” if we so desire. A more visual explanation of how this works: we have a stack of papers, but instead of putting them in folders, we just attach various colored strings to them, so whenever we want papers that are somehow tagged as “blue”, we can pull the blue string and they all come toward us, still with all their other strings attached and intact. The reality is less messy than that explanation, but still. That’s the gist of it. Emails exist in a ‘space,’ and there is only ONE copy of each email…but we can access them through various channels.

    And how is all this techno-babble related to my life philosophy? I believe in complexity and things that aren’t mutually exclusive. I don’t like trying to put things in compartments when I know I can only put them in ONE; I hate that hierarchization and inherent denial of intersectionality. I love seeing the connections between things, and the current ways in which we organize our lives are often conducive to the OPPOSITE of that.

    I prefer my little boxes with malleable sides, holes, connecting tubes, and glitter.

    Some other features I wish non-virtual life had:

    – Search function (this would be SO USEFUL when reading books and articles)
    – Tags (which are basically just labels…but I feel these are more specific?)
    – Zoom feature
    – Undo/Ctrl-Z
    – Virus protection (just imagine it, during sex–“You’re about to enter an unsafe area. Do you wish to continue? This orifice doesn’t have a security certificate. Your body has detected and blocked an attempted intrusion attempt. Virus protection has detected herpes on this person’s genitals; do you wish to exit the room?”)
    – Adjustment slider bars for saturation, contrast, brightness, and hue