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It’s understandable you would want to know how to get rid of poison oak plants when they invade your space, it’s a nasty little plant that can absolutely ruin your time outdoors. Poison oak is an allergen which secretes an oil called urushiol the same as poison ivy and sumac. Poison oak may appear in one of four forms, vines, bushes, creepers, or as individual plants. As soon as you spot it growing it is time to eradicate which takes some care and the proper equipment to minimize the odds you contact the urushiol oil and contract it’s well known itchy rash.

One of the most important things to remember when removing poison oak is to be prepared. Wear clothing which covers as much of your skin as possible, heavy gardening gloves are an absolute must. Just to be safe it is a good idea to buy Technu soap before you start. If you know your skin has come in contact with urushiol oil it takes about three minutes to an hour for it to bind with skin so you do have a chance to get it off your flesh. Technu soap is specifically designed to remove Toxicodendron oils and this is your best bet to avoid a breakout if you do come in contact with urushiol oil. Don’t bother trying to use gas, kerosene, or turpentine, these will do more harm than good.

Poison oak has a really strong root system so simply cutting away the portion you can see is not going to kill the plant, it’s just going to keep coming back time and again, and beware the root system has the oil as well so don’t handle it without gloves on. The least savory but only sure way to get rid of the plant is to dig it up and remove the root system. First you will want to cut the above ground portion of the plant away except for a small stub so it is easy to identify exactly where it is. Discard this is a thick plastic lawn and leaf bag. Next dig around the stub and then push deep and lift it from the ground with the shovel and toss it into the bag as well. Another method, although it is less preferred is to is to place a thick plastic bag over the plant and try to pull the plant out of the ground. More often than not I find I break the plant and have to dig it up anyway.

In case you have a poison oak vine climbing around a tree you need to use a different tactic. When they grow around trees their root system often weaves with the trees root system making it nearly impossible to remove in full. The best thing to do in this case is to remove the vine from the tree. I prefer snipping away sections to discard in my waste bag. Leave just a small section of a few leaves showing and liberally spray them with something like Roundup or Brush-B-Gone that is a non-selective herbicide. These will kill anything they come in contact with so as the leaves absorb this it will work down to the root system and eventually kill that as well. Multiple applications are sometimes needed so you should monitor the vines demise to determine when it needs another dose.

Some people who do not wish to use poisons to combat and kill poison oak maintain it can be killed with a saltwater and soap mixture (2 parts saltwater/1 part soap) but I have never tried this so I can’t say it would work. Still if you are totally against using poisonous herbicides it is worth a shot. Never dispose of poison oak clippings or root system in a compost pile as they will just reappear where you dumped them and never under any circumstances should you burn it. This can cause all sorts of respiratory problems.

Getting rid of poison oak isn’t a fun job, if possible it should be left to professional landscapers. If however you want to do it yourself follow the above steps as those are two ways to remove the plant/vine and root system. Please remember just removing what you see is not killing the plant and that you need to cover as much skin as possible when undertaking this task. Just to be extra safe keep Technu soap on hand and wash with it liberally as soon as you complete the job. It’s not a fun job, but if you are going to do it follow the above procedures and do it the safe correct way.


One of the highlights of Hawaii is the many varieties of traditional Hawaiian food available. The states rich history of people from around the world adding culinary twists from wherever they departed before arriving on Hawaii’s shores makes their food truly unique. Over centuries what has been created is as diverse a dining experience as you will find anywhere. If your idea of Hawaiian food is pizza (Or anything for that matter) with a slice of pineapple on it, or just poi, which while traditional is not to everyone’s taste, hold on to your hats and get out your pens for some real authentic Hawaiian dining delights.

Something to remember when considering Hawaiian food is it’s role in society. Hawaii is known for it’s pineapples, mangoes, macadamia and kukui nuts, as well as it’s seafood. All are a part of most daily meals, however they are also integral industries that at one time supported the island prior to tourism, none more than pineapple. Also Hawaiians take their meals seriously. They view each meal as a gift and a time for sharing with family and friends. Arguments are to be left outside and aloha is the mood of the table. Oftentimes many of the senior Hawaiians do not even want to discuss business at the table and prefer instead to use the time to keep current with other aspects of the lives of the people sharing their table.

A particular favorite has always been Lau-Lau which never disappoints. The way it is prepared is by stuffing a pork shoulder with chicken and/or a vegetable filling. Sometimes butter-fish or whatever catch of the day you prefer is added to create a different flavor, and of course Hawaiian or kosher salt really tops it off well. The filling is then individually wrapped and tied in five taro leaves. The lau lau is then further wrapped and tied inside 2 ti-leaves. If you cannot get ti-leaves or just prefer not to use them as they are not edible, banana or spinach leaves work just as well and add a little bit of a flavor twist. The best, and only way to cook these according to traditionalists, are in an imu, which is an underground oven, hanging around in the backyard. Pressure cooking works almost as well as not everyone has an imu. The variety of natural flavors from the leaves and natural ingredients make this something that will dance on the tip of your tongue.

Perhaps the best known Hawaiian food is called Kalua pig or Kalua pork. This is usually the main course of all Hawaiian luau’s. Like Lau-Lau, it is best prepared in an imu, but you can prepare it other ways as well, just know that it won’t have that smoky flavor without an artificial additive. When preparing this it is good to remember to pierce the pork with a fork or knife to allow the flavor to seep in, and this should be cooked fat side up to allow the fat to drip down the sides of pork. It is tender and juicy and and melts in your mouth when properly prepared. Kalua pig has a distinct salty/smoky flavor that is hard to not fall in love with.

Lomi Salmon is a traditional, but not native Hawaiian seafood dish consisting of salted diced or cubed salmon with tomatoes, green onions, lemon juice, and crushed ice. If you like it spicy Tabasco sauce can certainly kick this up a notch without destroying the natural flavor. Lomi is a food that complements poi which makes it a mainstay at all luau’s. Usually it is served as a spread with crackers, however it is also excellent when stuffed in tomatoes or inside cherries. This is an addictive side that will keep you going back for more. Its great flavor and ease of preparation make this a very popular dish aside from it’s historical significance as a substitute for the fish kumu, which ancient Hawaiians used as an offering to the gods. Just be warned not to fill up on this, once you start diving into the Lomi it’s hard to stop.

Poi has been a staple food in Hawaii for countless years. It is made from the root of the taro plant. Poi is produced by mashing the cooked taro into a gluey thick fluid. While mashing this, you add water to achieve the desired consistency which can range from a paste like substance which is most common, or to something a bit more fluid and soupy which is a bit less popular. If it looks like grits you are probably doing it right. It is an acquired taste for most, one I honestly never did acquire. Many native Hawaiians believed the spirit of Ha-loa was a present in poi which makes it so special in addition to having been for some a main source of nourishment in past centuries. Kalo was the original ancestor of the Hawaiian people and was to be revered, so poi was therefore considered sacred.

Another delight is Poki. This is raw fish salad almost always made with ahi which is yellow-fin tuna. This dish is flavored with kukui nuts, seaweed, soy sauce, and sesame oil although most people enjoy variations of seasonings. I myself like a little Tabasco. In fact, there are probably well over a hundred or so variations of Poki served throughout the islands as most towns

and restaurants generally have their own style of making this dish. Raw fish isn’t for everyone, but one taste is usually enough to make a convert out of anybody. The good thing about this dish is if you don’t like one style it is prepared in you may find one you do like the next day as it is a very diverse dish. This dish is always a great starter with any meal, and being a lover of Poki I encourage everyone to try as many variations as possible. This is so good in fact you may find yourself requesting a large order to serve as your entree.

What discussion of Hawaiian food would be complete without bringing up a traditional dessert? Hawaiian banana bars are simple and tasty and a favorite of dessert lovers of all ages. This treat consists of mashed bananas, chopped walnuts, vanilla extract, brown sugar, lemon juice and a dash of cinnamon. Once this is mixed you just bake it for a half hour, let is cool, and cut it into bars or blocks as you would a brownie, you can’t make it much simpler than that. Some people enjoy adding other ingredients like a little coconut or macadamia nuts instead of walnuts which is what makes this so popular, it’s ease in preparation and versatility. If you need a quick and easy dessert Hawaiian Ambrosia is the ultimate. Ambrosia is prepared in a large bowl, preferably a punch bowl. First add in about eight ounces of pineapple and about ten ounces of mandarin oranges. Then add shredded coconut, mini marshmallows, cool-whip, milk, and cherries. Chill for an hour and garnish with cherries and you’re all set. It is as tasty as it is easy and goes over great with kids which is why this is a luau staple.

There is so much variety in traditional Hawaiian food you will find trying to sample a bit of everything a highlight of each meal. Keep an open mind as to trying new things. Don’t make meal time a rushed event, but rather look upon it as a reward and another part of your Hawaiian experience. You may go to Hawaii for the sun and sand, but the food will make you want to keep coming back!

Getting sexy looking eyes just got simpler! Current celebrity trends have opened up a whole new wave of ways to get sexy looking eyes anyone can pull off at home. Bold colors and multiple shades are in vogue again and for all those fans of blue  – it’s back! Follow some simple steps and you too can have sexy eyes no one can resist staring into.

For a playful sexy look purple is the only option. Purple works with any eye color and is sure to separate you from everyone with the old traditional boring black eyeliner. Start with a purple eyeliner pencil – the bigger the better. Make a nice wide strip on the top lash line first and then repeat on the bottom.  The reason for this is you want  a thick bold line to tart working with – and remember to work from the outer to inner corner of your eyes.

Your next step is to smear the color on the top lid – use your finger for this. You want to make sure you work the color into the creases. Before you move on – grab that pencil again and make a second line over the original. This is going to help redefine things and set a multi-tone look.

To finish up hit your lashes with a dash of black mascara and you’re done. It really is that simple, and you have a look that is going to draw a ton of attention.

For an evening out that looks runway glamorous you’ll need to work with two tones – green and gold. Don’t be scared off by those colors, when used together they look fabulous. To get started apply a line of olive green liner just below the lower inner rim of your eye. Blink a few times to see how the color transfers to the upper rim, and then reapply the liner one more time to fill in where any color may have been lost.

Next you want to apply another olive green line along the lower lash line, Be very precise with this step. Now you want to switch to the gold tone and repeat the steps working around the green lines. Go slightly heavier on the top than the bottom.

To finish it off smudge the lines with a small shadow brush and apply mascara to top it off. In just a few minutes you have eyes that would rival the biggest start at the most glamorous of events.

For fans of blue that were dying for it to come back you are in luck – and this is the easiest look to pull off as it is just a matter of working below the eye – the top lid is left nude. The hot color this year is indigo blue so all you likely need to buy is a pencil in that shade. Make one thick line that runs the full length of the lower inner rim.

Next do the same but now do it along your lower lash line. Make sure this is a bold thick line. Then widen it out and make one more line just below the one you finished. Next smudge the lower line upward to your lashes so that any areas that are under-filled are addressed and the color looks like a solid block of sorts. Apply mascara and the look is complete. Simple, sexy, and sure to get raves!

While these looks may sound a little bold for some, don’t be bashful about trying them. The worst thing that can happen is you try one out and don’t like it. If you do not try on the other hand you’ll never know.

Call me a traditionalist, overly narrow, or anything you want but great mockumentaries are the domain of one man and one man alone, Rob Reiner. Reiner brought to life something we had never really seen before with a cast of actors that was so star laden it could qualify as a galaxy. His follow up effort was just as strong in many regards. Number one on the list of great mockumentaries is and can only be the incomparable “This Is Spinal Tap.”

Released in 1984, This Is Spinal Tap became an instant underground sensation chronicling the decline of what was supposed to be the loudest heavy metal band in the world. The cast was assembled by picking out actors that were not just great comedic talents but actual musicians. No other mockumentary has ever spawned actual albums that sold, guest appearances as the Saturday Night Live band, The Simpsons, Hear N’ Aid, and been so convincing people actually believed this was a real band! Spinal Tap became a standard favorite on tour buses for most of the major bands of the era all the way through to today, each rolling their eyes always pointing out snafus they too experienced.

The band consisted of Michael Mckean (David St. Hubbins), Sir Christoper Guest (Nigel Tufnel), Harry Shearer (Derek Smalls), David Kaff (Viv Savage), and R.J. Parnell (Mick Shrimpton). The band manager Ian Faith was brilliantly played by Tony Hendra, and Rob Reiner, who to his credit encouraged ad-lib exchanges played the “mockumentarian” Marti Dibergi. The laundry list of stars hardly ends there though with appearances from Billy Crystal, Dana Carvey, Howard Hessman, Bruno Kirby, Fran Drescher, Ed Begley Jr., Vicki Blue, Paul Schafer, Fred Willard, and the always lovely Anjelica Huston just to name a few. That’s correct, just a few!

You’ll see the Tap embarking on their North American tour, in which everything simply goes wrong. Interviews give you a glimpse of the bands history along the way which are brilliant, and that’s an understatement. The performance clips and music are indescribable. Honestly, this has to be watched to be understood, and more than that you can honestly watch this dozens of times, laugh, find new things to laugh at, and then watch it another dozen times and still be entertained. You’ll see food problems, equipment problems, the challenge of fitting 9 people in a king leisure bed, makeup snafus, Stonehenge being trampled by dwarfs, and the ever puzzling deaths of drummers.

What made This Is Spinal so great is the wide spread impact it had on basically everyone. It’s catchphrase “But this one goes to eleven” was shortened to “up to eleven” and added to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. “None Blacker” actually became a point scientists debated and worked on trying to see who could create a surface that was actually the blackest known! This is the grandfather of every mockumentary out there, it was so convincing people honestly believed they were real. It was so accurate real bands thought they had their horror stories from the road stolen. It was so entertaining it spawned albums, tours, and television appearances. Watch This is Spinal Tap and just laugh yourself silly. It goes to eleven.

The Return of Spinal Tap released in 1992 chronicles the Tap’s return after a decade of self imposed isolation. You’ll see the band as in tact as possible, don’t worry the big three return, and as soon as Sir Bob Geldolf utters the words “Live from hell it’s Spinal Tap” the Sir Albert Hall swings with “Tonight I’m gonna rock ya!” you know this is something special. See the band back at home giving you a glimpse at their roots the way only they can.

You’ll see clips of the Tap sandwiched in between their actual live performance of all their “hits.” Rob Reiner is again simply brilliant and seeing him discuss the rift between him and the band over the “hatchet job” he did portraying them in This Is Spinal Tap is priceless. You’ll see Lady Jamie Lee Curtis, Martin Short, and Robin Williams all making appearances to testify to the staying power of the Tap, in their own unique way of course. Don’t think for a second everything runs smooth, the band is still plagued by problems you’ll see at every turn, even a mini golf tragedy with singer Kenny Rogers and a major chakra ball problem that can’t be explained with words.

The appearance of so many gifted musicians like Graham Nash, Paul Shaffer, Jeff Beck, Mel Torme, and Les Claypool made even more new initiates to the Tap believe this was a real band! What is amazing about this is where most sequels get weaker this stays as strong as the predecessor. The manner the cast works employing a free flowing ad-lib style with only a minimal outline to follow makes this feel just as real as This Is Spinal Tap. The cinematography is vastly improved, the sound quality is top notch, and this looks like a major budget feature but still feels very indie. Any lover of comedy, especially if they are a music fan simply has to have this in their library.

What makes these in my opinion the two best mockumentaries ever made isn’t just that they are among the first ever, but their staying power. Here we are 24 and 14 years later respectively still discussing them. The band that began as a joke is still performing at major benefits to this day including such massive events as Live Earth. These mockumentaries set the standard for every one that has followed and they have yet to be knocked off their pedestal. You can walk up to almost anyone under the age of 45, spout a Spinal Tap line and it’s likely they not only know it, but know where it’s from. That’s as big a testament to the massive audience these reached globally as anything as to why these are the best mockumentaries ever.

Barça return to league action tomorrow night with the visit of Sevilla to Camp Nou (kick off 10 pm). After the horrible defeat at Milan in the Champions League on Wednesday it is good to have another game so quickly to think about something else. With the return Copa del Rey semi-final with Real Madrid coming up on Tuesday it seems very likely that there will be quite a few changes to the team that lost in Milan.Our twelve-point advantage in La Liga over second placed Atlético Madrid should allow us to give total priority to the cup clásico. Personally I’d make ten changes, with the intention of having everybody fresh for Tuesday, leaving only Valdés from last Wednesday’s team. But team selection will depend on each player’s physical condition. Jordi Roura today explained that although he has medical clearance Eric Abidal will not play immediately, saying: ‘We have to see how he evolves physically and when he has the tone for competition.’ Adriano is still doubtful and it might be more prudent not to rush him given his record with muscular injuries, but David Villa has trained with the team over the last two days and should be ready to return to the starting line-up.

via Preview: FC Barcelona vs Sevilla (game 25 liga 2012/13).

via Preview: FC Barcelona vs Sevilla (game 25 liga 2012/13).

People….. I am all for love. I think it’s awesome if you find it with someone or several someones or whatever it’s like for you. I’ve got no issue with that. The world could use a little more love and tolerance. What I do take issue with is a day that is for many filled with pressure to reach unattainable expectations.

Not everyone can afford gifts for the person(s) they love – but advertising tells us we must because that is how we prove our love and the bigger the gift, the more we must love. It creates unreasonable expectations of romantic expressions that quite frankly, you may not feel much like for whatever reason on that particular day.

It means that SOME single people often feel left out, somehow less valued because they don’t have someone to shower romantic love upon or be showered with it. It is a day followed by a day in which couples breakup in droves for often trivial reasons. People previously faithful explore or break the sanctity of their bonds with their spouse/partner because Valentine’s Day just didn’t live up to their expectations. Suicides…. love help us…. it’s a fucking tragedy.

So this is why I say fuck Valentine’s day! I don’t need this manufactured arbitrary day to tell the people I love that I love them. I do that already anyway. I don’t need this day to send flowers or a random gift just because I appreciate someone in my life. I feel sorry for anyone that does need an impetus like this to remember to or feel okay telling others they love them.

I’m not knocking anyone that enjoys the day. If it’s what works for you – awesome! But please, please, don’t look down on those of us who take no pleasure in realizing how much pain is incorporated into this day for far too many people.

The abuse of Xanax among teens is a problem rapidly growing out of control. Xanax is a benzodiazapine primarily used for treating anxiety disorders. While when used properly it is highly effective it can become habit forming. When abused the effects are far more gruesome and take a tremendous toll on the mind and body, especially those which are still growing.

Xanax produces a tipsy type of effect in many users which is not much unlike what one might expect after having a few drinks. As such it lowers the users level of anxiety and in proper the proper dose allows the person to function at a reasonably normal level. Xanax is also used as a rescue medication for persons suffering from panic attacks. In a low dose immediate delivery at an attacks onset has a bit of a “magic bullet” effect nullifying much of the effects of the attack. With such broad uses and it’s consideration as a fairly harmless drug under FDA classification it is widely available.

The wide availability of Xanax makes it what we call a medicine cabinet drug in that for most teens it isn’t something they have to search for on the street but rather something many can easily find at home. This fairly ready availability combined with the combination of effects it can deliver ranging from easing tension to providing a feeling of inebriation of sorts makes this incredibly attractive to teens. it is so attractive in fact that as of 2000 the abuse of Xanax by teens was outweighing abuse by adults.

The next problem is Xanax along with it’s generic counterparts are easily obtainable on-line. For a teen with little more than a debit card and an address there are some pharmacies that will issue a “prescription” and fill that so long as the payment clears. This is a problem with most prescription medications not just Xanax. The Regulating agencies often have trouble keeping up with those operating illegitimately and when one closes another seemingly opens. Even though the person placing the fraudulent order faces legal penalties if caught this usually fails to scare a teen who wants drugs.

The trickle down effect of this is that it becomes available on the street at a low enough price a single dose is often cheaper than a bus fare. As such this is easily obtainable for even the youngest of teens, especially when compared to street drugs sold by quantity or that have to be illegally manufactured. With this incredible supply of Xanax available through so many venues at prices low enough for any teen to afford the problem is getting worse every year with no relief in sight.

Two of the building blocks that must be present in any good marriage are honesty and trust. If you aren’t honest, eventually it is going to come back to bite you on the rear and when that happens the element of trust goes out the window with it. Being honest and having trust though doesn’t just relate to how you interact with your spouse, it is first and foremost a thing of self. As the saying goes if you aren’t taking care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone else.

That last statement may sound odd, but the truth since we are on that topic, is that if you aren’t caring for yourself by being honest with yourself you cannot be honest with your spouse or care for them properly. If you are not being honest with yourself there will come a time you no longer trust yourself. You will question your judgment, motivations, emotions, and basically everything that runs through your mind. You find yourself asking the question “do I really feel this way, or am I feeling this way because it is how I think I’m supposed to feel?” If you can’t be honest with yourself, who can you be honest with?

As this issue becomes increasingly difficult to deal with for the individual, it begins creeping into their other relationships, none of which is more prominent than their spouse. The person failing to explore and come to grips with their inner feelings will often find they are asking them self a variety of questions like “when did we begin drifting apart?” or “when did things change so much?” The simple fact that a person has to ask them self such things is a sure sign they have issues within them self they have been avoiding. This is when it is ground zero in terms of getting in touch with ones inner feelings.

It is isn’t always an easy thing to do and it often requires professional help, which is recommended, but these feelings can be sorted out and honestly dealt with. It is human nature that we want to put a positive spin on things and only see the good and put the bad off to be dealt with later if ever. By making the choice to deal with these inner feelings the first step to saving a marriage has been taken because you are being honest with yourself that there is a problem you have to deal with. This first step is the hardest, but that in no way means the rest of the ride is smooth sailing.

Identifying your emotions specifically is the second step. This is far from easy which is way a professional therapist is invaluable in the process. We as humans tend to answer our own questions in the most convenient manner possible. While it feels good to do so and is easy it isn’t always correct. A therapist is able to objectively step in and question us further to see if a person is truly being honest. If it is determined they are not, they can then begin a series of exploratory questions to probe deeper and find the truth. One by one a persons inner feelings can be identified an dealt with in this manner until a full clear picture presents itself.

During this process the marriage begins healing itself because each partner is able to begin discussing the progress being made in an open and honest manner. Rather than keeping emotions inside and unresolved they are accessible and can processed as a couple. This demonstrates a heightened level of trust and shows that there is enough love and desire to save the marriage to do something most people would rather not ever deal with.

It is true that this does not save a marriage in all cases, sometimes even the best efforts fail to work. Even in those cases going through the process is of great benefit. Each person has had the opportunity to learn about themselves and what the want an need. It has been jointly determined in most of these cases that the marriage is not salvageable, but that it can be dissolved amicably. It further allows better odds for each person to move on to a new healthy relationship. More often than not though exploring ones inner feelings, especially with a therapist which is the best avenue and cannot be stressed enough, there is a very good chance a marriage can be saved and move from stagnation to a thriving relationship again.

Hate crimes are an all to regular occurrence not just in the United States but around the world. A hate crime as defined is not just a physical attack, but can take place as mental or emotional abuse, the denial of rights, or as speech which is rooted in a bias created by the perceived differences of a person. Everyday at least three gays are the victims of a hate crime in the United States alone. Hate crimes are the truest form of crimes committed in ignorance.

Just to establish a few facts about hate crimes in the gay community before discussing how to fight them, the fact is that in 2005 the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) had labeled just over fourteen percent of all hate crimes in the U.S. as attacks motivated by sexual orientation. This fell in just behind crimes based on race and religion. Some believe crimes based on sexual orientation may actually exceed those based on religion due to misclassification and the reluctance of many gay victims to report hate crimes against them. Furthermore nine murders under FBI jurisdiction alone were attributed to sexual orientation in that same year. According to statistics from TYFA (Transgender Youth Family Association) one transgender person has been murdered in the U.S. every month since the spring of 1996 when tracking of violence against this segment of the LGBT began. I include this because to a large portion of society the transgender community is one and the same as the gay community. Also worth noting is that a higher portion of hate crimes based on sexual orientation are against gay men than lesbians. It is quite evident that hate crimes are a problem that needs a proactive solution.

When people hear the words “fighting” or “combating” thoughts of a physical battle often are the first that come to mind. In the case of combating hate crimes however fighting fire with fire is not the solution. Hate crimes are crimes of ignorance. Therefore the best way to fight hate crimes is through education and legislation. The two work hand in hand. Only through improvements and expansion of existing initiatives and the prosecution of perpetrators of hate crimes under the existing laws can we begin to end the cycle of hate. It is the responsibility of everyone to get involved, not just legislators and victims. Even within the gay community there is more that needs to be done. We have to be willing to stand up an talk about this issue, make it more visible, and make it plainly clear we are not going to tolerate hate crimes nor be silent when they occur to not just one of our own but anybody.

There have been organizations in the U.S. for decades with the sole purpose of defending the disenfranchised, and the gay community has their share. Since 1982 the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has fought a long hard battle to see legislation concerning hate crimes not only makes it’s way to the floor, but fights to ensure it is regarded seriously. In 2007 they they focused much of their energy on seeing that the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, also known as The Matthew Shepard Act, make it’s way through the House of Representatives. Organizations like Gay Rights Watch also dig into the issue of hate crime by trying to provide viable solutions to ending it, and then delivering that message through the media outlets.

Fortunately good and true information about members of the gay community is seeing the light of day. Odd as it may seem television and movies are playing a major role to revamping the way a generation views the gay and lesbian community. Positive out of the closet role models in the entertainment field are on the television screens in millions of households everyday helping break the myth that gays are deviant, mentally ill, predatory, or any number of false images associated to gays for countless generations. Movies and television series are now featuring more and more gay characters in positive roles which further reinforce that gays are regular people in all regards, with no differences from the straight community aside from the fact they are attracted to members of the same sex. Viacom launched a PSA (Public Service Announcement) on April the third of 2008 featuring Ellen DeGeneres to speak out against hate crimes against the gay and lesbian community, and Elton John has done numerous announcements of the same ilk. This increased positive exposure helps display who the gay and straight community are more alike than different and therefore helps fight crimes as it helps lessen the homophobia of some people.

Along with growing positive press for the gay community, the birth of organizations by school aged children such as Gay Straight Alliances (GSA) have been making huge strides towards integrating two previously diverse groups into one, and promoting better understanding and education about each other. Why organizations like this provide so much hope in the fight against gay hate crimes is that it is more likely a person that learns tolerance and acceptance of the diversity within people at a young age will have those same values carry over to their adult life and passed on to their children. Another positive aspect is that the more people there are that know the facts, the more people there are to stand against those whom may commit a hate crime making them less likely.

The general mantra of GSA’s, or at least the one at my daughters school, in concerns to hate crimes is to act, unite, speak up, and support each other. What acting means is to be proactive in letting people know hate crimes will not be tolerated. Through unity hate crimes may be averted and and it supports the principle of “United we stand” and power in numbers. When a hate crime occurs, or is even suspected of being possible speak up and let someone in a position of authority know what happened so it can be stopped or prosecuted and the victim gets the help they need. Support quite simply means we must all support each other through good and bad regardless of our differences. While I have seen charters in my research that are far more lengthy and comprehensive I like this one as it keeps it simple. The great thing is that this was a charter designed by young teens which in my mind points to the possibility of better days on the horizon.

Another important factor to combating hate crimes against gays is effective and decisive enforcement of the existing laws. Hate crimes are a federal offense which can carry up to a seven year sentence to be served in a federal penitentiary. Although the law concerning this is plainly laid out it is often not enforced or or even brought up as a charge. In the case of the murder of Edward “Gwen” Arajuo, it was clearly defined that her murder was motivated by her sexual and gender identity, however a jury decided it was just a situation that “Got out of hand.” With better education such ambivalent situations would be less likely, and prosecutors would be more willing to levy hate crimes charges as they would see that juries are in fact understanding and willing to vote in favor of such sentences.

All these organizations are important because there are always going to be people that for whatever reason are predisposed to hate. What is especially frightening are the number of organizations not only speaking out against gay and lesbian people but advocating some truly reprehensible, even criminal steps be taken to “Remove” members of the LGBT to use a gentle phrase. Organizations like the Westboro Baptist Church headed by Fred Phelps, Americans For Truth, and the Family Research Institute are just a few of the anti-gay hate groups in operation in the U.S. today. While we all need to do our share as individuals to combat and minimize hate crime in our local community, it is by banding together and supporting large groups that we can fight against hate organizations, apply political pressure, and educate as many people as possible that it is okay to be gay, and that it is our differences that make the world a wonderful place. sernum=461 p?DT=26 s_main_page/2007_legislation 2HATE%20CRIMES.htm

Bayard Rustin was born on March 17, 1912, in West Chester Pennsylvania. He led a life that early on had him pegged as a rising academic who was noted for his keen mind and sometimes unpopular thinking. Actually his thinking was only truly unpopular to the scattered racists and bigots which he was forced to deal with on a daily basis. As such, Bayard often began censoring his words but not his thoughts. Unfortunately in that era many people felt that a man of color, no matter how bright he may be, was to be seen and not heard. Bayard rose above it all and vigorously began pursuing his dreams which led his to play a pivotal role in American history.

Bayard was raised by his maternal grandparents, his grandmother was a Quaker, which played a tremendous role in the way he viewed the world and his place in it. His grandfather was affiliated to the A.M.E. Church, but what really led to young Bayard seeing he could make difference in the world wasn’t the strong religious background he came from, but his grandmothers membership in the NAACP. Julia, his grandmother, was what would be called a “behind the scenes player” these days and regularly hosted James Weldon Johnson and W.E.B. DuBois at their home for meals and discussions. It was these men along with his grandparents that molded Bayard. Though they never encouraged him to be proactive, but rather make his own decisions and follow them, he often chose the same path as his elders. He was most noted for his campaigning against Jim Crow Laws as a youth.

Eventually Bayard went on to attend Wilberforce University but dropped out before taking his final exams needed for graduation in 1936. He moved on to Cheney State Teachers College where he began taking courses in activism offered by the American Friends Service Committee. He moved to Harlem a year later and began taking more courses at City College of New York. In this two year period he became involved in three things that would change his life: He joined the Young Communist league, the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), and he became very vocal in the campaign to free the Scottsboro Boys who were nine young black men wrongfully accused of raping two white women.

Not much changed for Rustin until 1941 when he became disillusioned with the Communist Party. What initially drew Bayard to that organization was their support for civil rights, however when Stalin ordered American Communist party members to discontinue work on that issue and focus it instead on getting the U.S. into WWII, Bayard had enough. He quickly changed allegiance and began working with and supporting anti-communist socialists. Bayard was one of the three organizers that planned to march on Washington to protest racial discrimination in the armed forces, but Roosevelt made the change on his own before the march ever took place. With that plan scrapped, he instead went to California and helped organize protests against the internment of Japanese-Americans in segregated camps under the guise of national security.

In 1942 Bayard along with three other activist formed CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) which was conceived as a pacifist organization based on the teachings of Mohandas Gandhi and Henry David Thoreau. Being a leader of CORE which was a pacifist organization meant that Bayard was arrested for violating the Selective Service Act and sent to Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary from 1944-1946. He didn’t roll over during that time and do nothing, he instead organized protests against segregated dining facilities and the British Rule of India. After that Rustin was regularly arrested for protests and all too often manufactured charges which usually didn’t stick, but did serve to harass him.

All of this was just the precursor to his greater works regarding civil rights. He along with George Houser organized the first Freedom Ride (The Journey of Reconciliation) which was designed to test the ban on racial discrimination in interstate travel. This was opposed by the NAACP as well as most of the big name civil rights organizations as being too antagonistic and improperly timed, but they did so anyway. During the trip they were arrested several times including, on of which led to a 22 day stint on a North Carolina chain gang. What he did wasn’t popular, but his seven arrests proved the law was being ignored and led to the major organizations pressing the issue with the government through grassroots movements.

The next 5 years were different for Rustin as he became heavily involved with African Civil Rights Leaders and began spending more time in California. Bayard was still being arrested regularly, one of which exposed his secret. Bayard Rustin was gay. He served a 60 day sentence in California on a charge of “sex Perversion” which was plead down from sodomy. He refused to be ashamed of his sexuality which led to being fired from FOR “Fellowship of Reconciliation) of which he had been a member since 1941, and was then often kept on the sidelines as many other organizations weren’t sure he was the proper image they wanted to portray. Still he quickly landed a new job with the War Resisters league. While with WAR he published “Speak Truth To Power: A Quaker Search for an Alternative to Violence” which is regarded as one of the best pacifist essays ever produced in America. At his request, his name was kept off the document for fear it may be disregarded or hurt the credibility of WAR duet to his known homosexuality. While he took no shame in being gay, he also realized it would color the way people read his words, and may disregard them as the “words of a homo.”

In 1956 he Left WAR to become and adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Ghandian tactics of pacifist resistance. While he was initially supposed to only help with the Montgomery Bus Boycott, he stayed on to help form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Dr. King in 1957. No matter how great a job Rustin did, his homosexuality was held over his neck like an axe. In 1960 Representative Adam Clayton Powell Jr. forced Rustin to resign from the SCLC or have his homosexuality brought up in on the floor of Congress. While Bayard hated it, he complied. As unjust as this was, it got Bayard thing as much about gay rights as African American rights.

Rustin was forced further from the forefront after this until 1963 when he helped organize the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. S.C. Senator Strom Thurmond began waving about a picture for anyone who cared to look of Bayard talking to Dr. King who was in a bathtub implying that since Bayard was a known homosexual, King must be too in an attempt to smear their names with the public. As such, the NAACP thanked Bayard for his help, told him he would receive no credit for his efforts, and showed him the door. As the decade advanced, Bayard became involved with the Democratic Party and President Lyndon Johnson which landed him out of favor with the Black Power Movement who labeled him a sellout. Rustin began moving away from radical politics and accepted a position on the Board of Trustees at the University of Notre Dame in the early 1970’s.

While Rustin was never terribly vocal about gay rights at the time feeling his days of hands on activism were over, he remained a player behind the scenes, much like his grandmother did when he was a child in her house. he kept his name and face largely out of the press but was always available to share his knowledge of activism with any gay rights leader who sought it. In 1986 he changed his stance on this and began getting vocal again testifying before the New York State Assembly on behalf of the Gay Rights Bill. He stated that the LGBT community had become the civil rights “barometer” in America as they are “the community which is most easily mistreated.”

Sadly he died on August 24 of 1987 just when he was getting started on the gay rights movement in the public eye. His legacy with the LGBT community is secure though as two high schools were named for him, one in his hometown of West Chester PA, and one in Chelsea NY, which is slated to close in 2012. He also has a library and Social Justice Center that bear his name as well as the Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition (BRC) in San Francisco.

Bayard Rustin is a man that was marginalized and scapegoated all his life. First for being born black, then for being born gay, two things he had no control over. Even when he was pushed aside, hidden, and discredited in the most personal of ways on the floors of Congress, he continued to believe in the country and system and fought peacefully for equality for all people, black white, brown gay, and straight nearly 60 years. While his role in the gay and civil rights movement were often ignored, he is a man whose time has come. he deserves now the credit he should have received while living.

Anders on, Jervis. Bayard Rustin: Troubles I’ve Seen

D’Emilio, John. Lost Prophet: Bayard Rustin and the Quest for Peace and Justice in America

Haskins, James. Bayard Rustin: Behind the Scenes of the Civil Rights Movement