Posts Tagged ‘hate crime’

Random Thoughts — February 22, 2019

Will the snow ever end?  🙂

Two more snow events are on the way to the Northland of Minnesota, Wisconsin and upper Michigan this weekend.

With almost three feet of snow this month, by Friday night, this will be the snowiest February on record in Duluth, Minnesota, breaking the record set back in 1939!

I hope you have a great weekend whatever you do and thank you for checking out my random thoughts!

JUSSIE SMOLLETT DEVELOPMENTS

I’ll preface this by saying that I want “Empire” star Jussie Smollett to be innocent and that this media circus has been one big misunderstanding.

Okay, that was my feeble attempt at thinking the best.

You’ve heard a lot about the case this week, but I first blogged about it three weeks ago.

In late January, the 36-year-old actor reported to Chicago police that two men yelled at him, “Aren’t you that faggot ‘Empire’ n*****?” before beating him, pouring bleach on him and putting a rope around his neck!

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The story has taken a strange turn and now it seems that Smollett MAY have orchestrated the whole ordeal for the publicity and to get more money from “Empire”!

He turned himself into police late this week for allegedly filing a false police report about the racist and homophobic attack!  A judge set his bond at $100,000 and Smollett had to turn over his passport.

IF HE’S GUILTY, I hope he goes to jail and that he NEVER works again!

IF HE’S GUILTY, in the mind of people that don’t like people of color and the LGBTQ community, this stunt will call into doubt every hate crime and every gay bashing reported to police in the future!

And, it’ll also make the LGBTQ community and people of color more reluctant to even report hate crimes!

Again, I hope that this turns out to be a huge misunderstanding.  Sadly, it’s not looking that way!

Here’s why I’m thinking that:  Our country has a nasty history of hate crimes against people based on race and sexual orientation.

Many times, when LGBTQ people and people of color are attacked, it’s not just a punch to the face and name calling!  These attacks are usually very violent and sometimes lead to death!

Two names quickly come to mind:  Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE…

Freaking Stupid

MY OSCAR PICKS

It’s Academy Awards weekend!  I’ve never been to an Oscars party, but I think it’s be fun.  Well, the food spread and drinking sounds fun!

Here are the movies and actors that I think will take Oscar home!

I predict “Roma” will win Best Picture, but I don’t think it should!

While I haven’t seen all of the nominees yet, I saw “Roma” and it didn’t even make my Top 20 list of favorite movies of 2018!

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While I pick Christian Bale to win, I really, really hope that Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”) wins!

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“AT ETERNITY’S GATE”

This movie tells the story of the final years of artist Vincent van Gogh’s life.

Willem Dafoe earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination this year for his portrayal of the tormented, alcoholic van Gogh.

It’s a decent movie and Dafoe is great, but I’m not sure that he deserves an Academy Award nomination for this performance.

He was also was nominated for an Oscar last year for the fantastic “The Florida Project” (my #14 movie of 2018).

Last year, I even wrote that he didn’t deserve that nomination!  Clearly, the Academy and his peers love him.

Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s fantastic, and if I had to choose, his van Gogh was more Oscar worthy of the two roles.

Here are a couple of interesting facts about “At Eternity’s Gate” and the van Gogh brothers:

Defoe, who played Vincent, is 63 and van Gogh died at the age of 37!

Vincent van Gogh was four years older than his brother, Theo, but Rupert Friend (“Homeland”), who played Theo, is only 37 in real life! 🙂

And, finally, Theo van Gogh died at the age of 33 just six months after Vincent died!

GRADE:  B-

“THE FRONT RUNNER”

This movie is about Colorado U.S. Senator Gary Hart’s 1988 run for the Democratic nomination for president.

His campaigned ended after news broke of an extramarital affair.  His argument was that it was his private life and it shouldn’t affect his job as president.

Remember, this was a time before reporters ran with stories like this.  Back in the 1950s and 1960s, reporters knew about John F. Kennedy’s affairs, but didn’t make them public.

I love Hugh Jackman and Vera Farmiga, who play Hart and his long suffering wife, Lee.

They both had some powerful scenes, but it seemed like the movie dragged on longer than his 1984 and 1988 presidential runs!

GRADE:  C+

“ANTARCTICA”

As I mentioned last week, I’m going through my movie collection and watching old movies to either get rid of or save.

One gem that made the save list was “Angels of Sex” which I talked about in my last blog.  Another one that I enjoyed much more the second time around was the 2008 Israeli film, “Antarctica”.

Director Yair Hochner’s love story follows a group of very sexy men and women around Tel Aviv searching for that special one (or just a good time)!

It’s a very sensual movie with nudity and graphic sex scenes.  Israelis definitely know how to make a movie sexy and erotic without it automatically being seen as soft porn!

Yiftach Mizrahi (Danny) was stunning and he can act and dance beautifully!

P.S.  This trailer may be a little risque for some!

GRADE:  A-

“ROBERT KENNEDY”

I just finished reading Evan Thomas’ 2000 biography, “Robert Kennedy:  His Life”.

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It paints a very interesting look at RFK 32 years after he was gunned down in Los Angeles after winning the Democratic California Primary in his 1968 presidential run.

The book touches on RFK’s neglected childhood following in the shadows of his two older, golden brothers.

Thomas doesn’t shy away from showing the nasty, dark side of RFK and what he did to make his brother, John F. Kennedy, president and a very successful one.

It also shows how he became a fighter for the disenfranchised — blacks, poor and other minorities.

I’ve written before about how much I love Bobby Kennedy and how great it would have been if he had become our 37th president.

However, there’s still something about him (and the other Kennedys) that I still have a problem with today.

Recently, I wrote this while talking about Jackie Kennedy, “By no means do I think that President Kennedy, Senator Bobby Kennedy, and Jackie were angels, but, in retrospect, I’m a little disturbed about their alleged homophobia.”

I also said, “Of course, when you’re reading books about people, you don’t know how much is fact and how much is hearsay.”

Thomas also touches on RFK’s fear of gay people.  Like Jackie and John, I hope that Bobby would have “evolved”.  Remember, this was the 1950s and 1960s and there was no such thing as “gay rights” or openly and accepted people in the LGBTQ community.

Bobby Kennedy

So, I’ll still crush on the image of the youthful and charming Bobby Kennedy with reservations about the homophobia.

And, I learned from Thomas that RFK hated popping corks of champagne bottles!

Come on RFK, what’s up with that?  I love champagne and there’s only so much I can overlook! 🙂

While the book was interesting, I recommend this more…

“BOBBY KENNEDY FOR PRESIDENT”

While technically “Bobby Kennedy For President” wasn’t a movie, I ranked this excellent Netflix documentary as my #11 movie of 2018.

If you get a chance, check it out.

“THE DAY JOHN DIED”

Before reading the book on RFK, I read Ted Sorensen’s 800-plus page biography of John F. Kennedy and Christopher Andersen’s “Jackie After Jack” and Andersen’s “The Day John Died”.

JOHN DIED

While I did learn things about JFK, Jr., a lot of the book was a rehash of “Jackie After Jack”, especially when he talked of Jackie and how she dominated her son’s life and the Kennedy Camelot legacy.

Also, I didn’t care much for Andersen’s highly speculative dramatization of events in the minutes before John John’s plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, just 7.5 miles west of Martha’s Vineyard, in 1999.

That crashed not only killed JFK, Jr., but also his wife, Carolyn, and her sister, Lauren.

Skip it!

THAT’S IT

With all the craziness in the world, make it the best in your little part of it!

Anthony

Random Thoughts — January 30, 2019

With the brutal and dangerously cold temperatures and wind chills invading much of Canada and the middle part of the United States, I thought I’d share a few things with you.

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That’s how it looked on Lake Superior in Duluth, Minnesota Tuesday afternoon.  Temperatures were around -18° and wind chills were -45°!

Cold, but gorgeous!  Stay warm!

HERE’S TO A SPEEDY RECOVERY JUSSIE!

While it’s not new, I’m disgusted by the hatred in this country (and world).

“Empire” star Jussie Smollett was assaulted early Tuesday morning in Chicago by two white men.  Police are treating it as a possible hate crime.

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The men allegedly yelled at him, “Aren’t you that faggot ‘Empire’ n*****?” before beating him, pouring bleach on him and putting a rope around his neck!

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Jussie, I pray for a quick recovery from the physical injuries.  I know emotionally, it’ll take time to heal.  My thoughts are with you!

RACISM

There’s another very pathetic part of the story that I won’t mention because it hasn’t been confirmed by the Chicago Police Department.  But, if it’s true, it’s so very sad!

We all know that racism and hate has always been a part of our country’s fabric. Even after the progress in the 1960s, it was still there.

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But, before 45, it was rightfully condemned to be publicly racist.

Sadly, people are “free” again to hate without regret! 😦

SUAVE, BUT CREEPY, (VIOLENT) MEN!

Dating at a more mature age sucks!  Well, it can suck at any age! 🙂

I finally got around to watching the Bravo series, “Dirty John”, which is based on a true story.  (I talk about it below.)

As I was watching the first episode, I couldn’t believe that the woman (Debra) didn’t pick up on the warning signs that the man she had just started dating was a loser and user.

But, by the second episode, it really clicked as to how this could happen.  It happened to me on my 30th birthday, in Chicago, in the fall of 1994!

I had just been living in the city for three months and went out to celebrate.  I met Richard, a very charming guy with a great smile.  He was 25.

We had a great time that night and the first few weeks were fun.  Before I knew it, he had “moved in” — actually, “would never leave” is more like it!

By Christmas, the relationship was strained by his jealousy, which led to domestic violence.

Yes, I became “that person” lying about the bruises and making excuses that it wouldn’t happened again.

Five months after we met, it culminated with a near death, stalking experience — an emergency room visit, an arrest, and a court appearance!

This was a few days after the attack.  You can still see the gash on the forehead from a brick and the bruises under the eye and on the lip.

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While the Chicago court system let him off with nothing more than a slap on the hand, karma and fate prevailed.

A few years ago, I heard that he died!

“DIRTY JOHN”

Sharing that personal story was clearly inspired by Bravo’s “Dirty John” with Connie Britton and Eric Bana.

It’s based on a podcast about a very successful businesswoman and mother of three, Debra Newell.  She’s been unlucky at love after four failed marriages when she finally meets John Meehan, a man just too good to be true.

Well, guess what?  He is too good to be true, thus the show’s name, “Dirty John”!

After the first episode, I thought, “Seriously, you’re that lonely not to see the red flags?”  But, more pieces of the story come together and you’re sucked into it!

Britton looks amazing and her clothes scream elegance!  Bana looks great even as the louse John!  And, it’s always a treat seeing Julia Garner (“Ozark” and “The Americans”).

But, I was really blown away by Juno Temple, who plays Veronica, Debra’s oldest daughter. She’s incredible!  I remember her from 2010’s “Kaboom”!

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Okay, one more thing — I’m still crushing on Kevin Zegers!

If you missed it on Bravo, it hits Netflix on Valentine’s Day (how lovely and twisted!) and a second season is in the works.

GRADE:  A-

REMEMBERING JAMES INGRAM

Two-time Grammy Award winner (with 12 other Grammy nominations) and two-time Oscar nominee James Ingram’s death was announced Tuesday, just a few weeks shy of his birthday.

He was 66.

Ingram first hit the chart in 1981 with “Just Once” (with Quincy Jones), one my favorite songs of his.

He scored a total of eight Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 including two chart-toppers, 1982’s “Baby, Come To Me” with Patti Austin and 1990’s “I Don’t Have The Heart”.

SAG AWARDS — DIVERSITY HUMOR! 🙂

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Host Megan Mullally : “Hollywood did manage to get a few things right: They cast black people in “Black Panther”, so that was good… Asian people in”Crazy Rich Asians”… And, a green book in “Green Book”.  You know there were some executives saying, ‘Um, could the book be white?”

OSCAR NOMINATION SNUBS

While I was hoping for nominations for Lucas Hedges and Nicole Kidman for “Boy Erased” and Julia Roberts for “Ben Is Back”, I didn’t expect them!

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I was surprised that Timothee Chalamet (“Beautiful Boy”), Emily Blunt (“A Quiet Place” and “Mary Poppins Returns”) and Bradley Cooper (Best Director – “A Star is Born”) were overlooked.

Furthermore, I was shocked that Marina De Tavira (“Roma”) picked up a nomination for Best Supporting Actress!  However, with all of the awards season love for the movie, it shouldn’t surprise me.

But, the biggest snub for me was in the Documentary category.  I still can’t believe “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”, my #3 movie of 2018, wasn’t nominated!

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“WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?”

As a kid, I never got to watch “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”.  But, on my return flight from Morocco last fall, I watched the documentary, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”.

I absolutely fell in love with Fred Rogers and I’m glad I had the whole row of seats to myself because of the tears streaming down my face!

It brought in $22.6 million in domestic box office receipts making it the biggest documentary of 2018!

As you’ll see below the trailer, I gave it a grade I rarely give anything in entertainment!

GRADE:  A+

“BEAUTIFUL BOY”

As for acting, Timothee Chalamet and Steve Carrell were fantastic in this true story about a father’s efforts to save his teenager from drug abuse and death.

Chalamet was nominated for many major acting awards for this movie, but he didn’t get the Oscar nod.

Last year, he did get an Academy Award nomination for “Call Me By Your Name”, my favorite movie that I saw in 2018.

So, about “Beautiful Boy” — the acting was superb, but the movie was just a few steps up from a Lifetime movie.

You can catch it on Amazon Prime.

GRADE:  B

THAT’S IT

With all the craziness in the world, make it the best in your little part of it!

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Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — July 14 , 2017

The weekend is here and I hope you have a great one planned!  Thank you for checking out my “Random Friday Thoughts”.

ACTION, NOT SUBMISSIVE REACTION

This thought is not about the Second Amendment, gun laws, gun control, bad cops, etc. It’s about the lack of respect for human life these days.

There’s so much going on in the U.S. and around the world.  It saddens me to think that it’s easier for people to shoot or kill someone rather than to talk things out or just mind their own business.

When these senseless acts of violence happen, with no justification, it’s heartbreaking.

Fence

When Matthew Shepard was beaten, tortured and left for dead on a fence in Wyoming in October 1998 and James Byrd Jr., was dragged behind a pickup truck for three miles on an asphalt road by three white supremacists four months earlier, we were horrified.

One was killed because he was gay and the other because he was black.  Yet, it took 11 years before the “Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act” was signed into law.

Still today, it’s a joke how many people commit hate crimes and don’t get charged with it.

When something like the Pulse Nightclub shooting, the Sandy Hook school massacre, or the bombing outside the Manchester Ariana Grande concert happens, we’re shocked for a few days before the news cycle moves on to the next story.

People go crazy on Facebook sharing “Remember <insert city>” or “Pray for <insert city>. And, then we move on, too!

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I commend the three ladies that started a movement in 2013 with just a hashtag —  #BlackLivesMatter — after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the 2012 shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Since then, it’s been directed at law enforcement in the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, and many more — unarmed black people — that died by the guns or hands of white police officers.

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I know it’s wishful thinking, but I’d love it if we’d talk more instead of resorting to violence!  I wish we could “Give Peace a Chance”! 😦

GOODBYE LAYAFETTE

Nelsan Ellis, who played Lafayette Reynolds, on HBO’s “True Blood”, died last weekend of complications of heart failure.  He was 39.

“True Blood” creator, Alan Ball said, “Nelsan was a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me. Working with him was a privilege.”

While there was Sookie and the sexy men of “True Blood” (Jason, Eric, and Sam), Lafayette was my favorite character.  He was a proud, flamboyant, and out gay black man in the backwoods of Louisiana.

Here’s a compilation of some of Reynolds’ best scenes as Lafayette.  (Contains adult language and situations!)

LG(BISEXUAL)T

I’m always open to learning new things and thinking outside of the box.  I’m still evolving, too.

Bisexuality comes to mind.

With the acronym LGBT, I never bought into the “B” for bisexual.  I always thought bisexuals were gay people afraid to admit it because of family, religion, or the fear of homophobia.

LGBT

You often hear certain celebrities come out as “bisexual”, but I’ve never had a friend tell me they’re “bi”.

However, looking back to my early years in the gay community, I recall a friend that was lesbian that went on to marry a man and have children and another woman that was married to a man, but also took on a lesbian lover with her husband’s knowledge.

So, I’ve evolved to believe that there are true “bisexuals”.

“CHIPS” & HOMOPHOBIA ACCUSATIONS

The theatrical update of the NBC television hit series, “Chips” (1977-1983), starring Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox bombed at the box office.

Interestingly enough, while no one really went to see it (it broke even if you just compare the cost to make it and box office receipts), some accused the movie as being homophobic.  I didn’t see that.

In one scene, it shows non-sexual man-to-man contact in the locker room (a bro-hug).

In that same scene, “Ponch” asks Jon not to give him a welcome hug now that they’re partners since Jon is only wearing underwear.

As a matter of fact, there are discussions in the movie debating what is and what isn’t “homophobia”.

While I didn’t see anything in the movie as homophobic, I was wishing midway through the movie that it was like the television series — only an hour long!  However, at that point, it went off the rails and the second half was very entertaining. 🙂

Warning:  This is the “Red Band Trailer” and it’s for mature audiences only.  (Translation: very adult!)

I watched the innocent trailer and there was a scene that added clothes to Jon when he was naked in the movie. Lame!

So, proceed with caution with this trailer!

GRADE:  B

Honestly, it deserves a B-, but with Shepard’s lanky body on display out of uniform in a few scenes and Adam Brody looking so adorable in this movie with his porn star ‘stache, there was a grade curve! 🙂

Adam Brody

POWERFUL KESHA COMEBACK

In the past couple of years, when you heard Kesha’s name in the news, it wasn’t about chart-topping hits.

She was in a bitter lawsuit with her former producer, Dr. Luke.  She accused him of sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, emotional abuse, and more.

It looked like it might be years before we’d hear any new music from her, but last week, she released the powerful new single, “Praying”.

Kesha also announced “Rainbow”, the new album, would arrive August 11th!

Her last album, “Warrior”, was my favorite album of 2013!

WALKING JUST TO EAT

Since moving here with no friends and my family a thousand miles away, I’ve been walking and reading outdoors — a lot.

Back in the Midwest, I’d walk an hour on the treadmill.  Here, I’ve only gotten on the treadmill twice when it was pouring down rain, but I just wasn’t into it.

I’m still getting in more than 25,000 steps a day.  But, since I’m a little OCD, some days that number tops 30,000 and even 40,000!

Why?  Because it gives me less time to think about why I’m here and the future and because I like to eat and not worry about weight gain.

Diet

Here’s a test for you.  I could live off three of these, but I gave the other up years ago!  Do you know which one is no longer part of my “well-rounded diet”?

“THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE”

This must be the summer of Jessica Chastain for me.

Just last week, I featured her performance in “Miss Sloane” and gave the movie an “A”. While the movie was a box office bomb, it was spectacular and her icy performance was incredible.

“The Zookeeper’s Wife”, a movie that barely made its money back at the theaters, is powerful and heartbreaking.  It’s based on a true story.

It takes place in Poland just as the Germans invade at the start of World War 2.

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Chastain’s character and her husband run the Warsaw Zoo.  When the air strikes commence, many of the zoo’s animals are killed and the Germans take the most prized survivors for “protection”.

They learn of Hitler’s attacks and the treatment of Jews and decide to start a “human zoo” — hiding Jewish men, women, and children.

It’s hard to relive this dark chapter in world history, but the story is rewarding at the same time.

A must-see!

GRADE:  A-

“HOUSE OF VERSACE”

This weekend marks the 20th anniversary of the shooting death of Italian designer Gianni Versace outside his Miami Beach mansion on July 15, 1997, by spree killer Andrew Cunanan.

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Last weekend, I caught the 2013 Lifetime movie, “House of Versace”.

It covered the relationship between Gianni and his sister Donatella before his murder and how she ran the company after his death.

Gina Gershon is intriguing to watch as Donatella and the soundtrack to the movie was fantastic with Snap, Technotronic, and Deee-Lite (“Groove is in the Heart”).

On 2013’s “Artpop”, Lady Gaga paid tribute to Donatella.

NEW GUILTY PLEASURE

I know Niecy Nash from her hilarious turn on the painful to watch Ryan Murphy rare misfire, “Scream Queens”.

But, she does dramedy (drama-comedy) very well on her new TNT series, “Claws”.

She owns a nail salon in Palmetto, Florida, and is laundering money for the local crime/drug king (or “queen”), “Uncle Daddy”, flamboyantly played by Dean Norris (“Breaking Bad” and “Under The Dome”).

It airs on Sunday nights and you still have time to catch up.  Only five episodes have aired and the season finale is August 13th.

Earlier this week, it was renewed for a second season to air in 2018!

LEFTOVER RED WINE?

I get several recipes emailed to me.

This one is from myrecipe.  Check out the story headline.

Leftover Wine

Excuse me, but leftover and wine in the same sentence???

I like telling the story of my single days when I had my golden retriever, ABBA, and I’d make shrimp scampi.

She’d always get the shrimp tails as a tasty, crunchy treat to compliment her dry dog food.

And, after using the one-quarter of a cup of white wine for the scampi, I always felt it’d be sacrilegious to the “grape Gods” to not finish the 750 ml bottle of wine with dinner!

THAT’S IT

With all the craziness in the world, make it the best in your little part of it!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — June 17, 2016

I want to wish all the dads out there a “Happy Father’s Day”.  We’re spending it with Ray’s dad, Papa Ray, who’s also turning 80 years old.

There are so many thoughts going through my head almost a week after last Sunday’s horrific massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.  I’ll get the heartbreaking ones and the ones that anger me out of the way first.

ORLANDO NIGHTCLUB MASSACRE

It’s been a sad week for the LGBT community.

The nightmare is still settling in for the families of the 49 victims, the 53 people who were hurt, and the rest of the people inside the popular gay nightclub last Sunday morning when a 29-year-old terrorist opened fire with a semi-automatic assault weapon and a gun (a third gun was found in his car) after taking hostages.  He was killed by police.

Pulse

I’ve gone back and changed this part of the blog several times as more details are released.

First, I wrote that the killer’s father said it happened because his son didn’t like gay people.  But, it seems the more his father talks, the more he sounds like a lunatic himself!

Now there are reports that the shooter may actually have been gay, or at least, a regular at Pulse and on gay hook-up sites and apps.

If that’s true, it’s very sad that he was such a self-loathing, closeted gay man.  He wouldn’t be the first person forced into a sad life of hiding the fact that he was gay.  Most of the time, that fear is perpetuated by the views of family, religion, or society in general. This has to change!  However, people in those situations normally don’t resort to such a heinous crime of murder!

CALL IT WHAT IT IS — A HATE CRIME

The shooting in Orlando is now the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.  This surpasses the Virginia Tech (April 2007) and Sandy Hook shootings (December 2012).

After I started processing the shock and sadness I felt, I was angered by Republican politicians addressing the shooting while ignoring the fact that nightclub and the victims were targeted for being (or suspected of being) LGBT.

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Failed Republican presidential wannabees Marco Rubio and Mike Huckabee shared these tweets:

Rubio: “Our prayers are with those injured and killed early this morning in horrifying act of terror in Orlando.”

Huckabee: “Please join Janet and me in praying for the victims of the Orlando attack and their families.”

Notice that there’s no mention of where this senseless tragedy took place or why they were slaughtered.  It was because of who they were!

Rubio and Huckabee are just two of the politicians who demonize the LGBT community on a regular basis — except when it gives them face time in front of cameras with empty sympathetic apologies.  The LGBT community needs love and support every day, not when it’s convenient.

Disgusting!

“THESE PEOPLE”

When I shared my blog about the shootings and who the LGBT community is on Facebook last weekend, someone commented, “these people are in our country to harm us and are just sitting back waiting for that call.”

In this case, I know “these people” was referring to Muslims or Middle Easterners.  The shooter’s parents are from Afghanistan.

Still, I was taken aback by the comment and replied, “There are “these people” in every walk of life — they may have different color skin, religions, upbringings, ideologies, etc. The white kid who (allegedly) murdered the innocent black church goers in South Carolina last year is one of “these people”.

Church Fire

In the weeks following the Charleston, South Carolina shootings one year ago today, there were suspicious fires at seven black, or predominantly black, churches in South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida.

Trust me people, hate is very much alive in this country.  We have a major problem and we’ve got to work together to find a solution.  This means all of us.

GUN CONTROL

There’s a lot of debate about guns and gun control.  Some think that when you ask for tougher regulations, you want to take their guns away.

Gun Control

I want people to be checked thoroughly before they legally own a gun.  I want to know if these people have criminal records, if they’re on the “no fly list”, have mental issues, etc.

I don’t care if people own guns for protection or hunting.  But, there is NO reason for the general public to own an assault-style weapon like the AR-15!  None!!!

But, legally, it’s considered the same as other rifles and there are anywhere between 2.5 million and 3.7 million guns in the AR-15 family in civilian use today in the United States.

AR-15

Now, for the first time ever, the family of the gun’s inventor is speaking out.

They told NBC News, “Our father, Eugene Stoner, designed the AR-15 and subsequent M-16 as a military weapon to give our soldiers an advantage over the AK-47.  He died long before any mass shootings occurred. But, we do think he would have been horrified and sickened as anyone, if not more by these events.”

My final thought on the matter is that when the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted in 1791 allowing us to “keep and bear arms”, I know that our founding fathers never imagined a weapon of that caliber — a weapon that would be responsible for cutting so many lives short here in America!

The Second Amendment would be worded much differently today and bearing arms would mean something else.

LET ME TELL ABOUT THE LGBT COMMUNITY

In case you didn’t get to read my blog last Sunday that expressed how devastating this massacre is to the LGBT community and who were are, here it is again.  (This will open in a new window.)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/deadly-gay-nightclub-attack-were-all-one/

A SAD ENDING TO THIS LOVE STORY 

There have been many stories coming out from family members grieving over the loss of their loved ones.  This one really breaks my heart.

32-year-old Christopher “Drew” Leinonen and his 22-year-old boyfriend Juan Guerrero were two of the victims inside the Pulse nightclub.

Juan’s sister, Aryam, says, “They were honestly so in love. They were soul mates. You can tell by how they looked at each other.  It’s a little comforting that they died together.”

Christmas Was Perfect

Look at the caption taken from this Instagram photo of the men with their families, “Christmas was perfect”.  This Christmas won’t be perfect for the grieving families.

As much as I love the holidays, I’m going to make sure that Christopher and Juan are not forgotten this Christmas.

The two men had planned on getting married and their families have decided that they’ll be buried together.

LOVE IS LOVE

Before I married almost five years ago, I found this video and it still makes me smile.  I even borrowed the “sparkler toast” for our reception.

Today, I dedicate it to the memory of Christopher and Juan, the love they shared, and the wedding they never experienced.

Make sure the person you love knows it everyday!  Life is too short.

Ray, I love you!

GAGA HONORS THOSE MURDERED

Lady Gaga addressed thousands earlier this week at Los Angeles’s City Hall at a vigil to remember those killed at the Pulse nightclub.  Gaga read off the names of the 49 people murdered.

The pop star told the tearful crowd, “I can’t help but feel that this level of hatred, like all prejudicial crimes, this is an attack on humanity itself.”

She added, “This is an attack on everyone.”

ON A LIGHTER NOTE….

Offending People

JUST ONE DONALD TRUMP COMMENT (BUT, I HAVE SEVERAL)

If anyone ever says he doesn’t have a sense of humor, I’ll always have this tweet of his to remember.  I’m still laughing out loud over his ignorance.

We might have been born at night, but not last night!

Donald LGBT.jpg

Please let him become a footnote in American history November 8, 2016.

DON’T UNDERESTIMATE FISH

As you know from reading my blog and following me on social media that we love our expanded koi and goldfish pond.

Fish Pond

Now, I have scientific proof that the fish know me, they really know me!

Culum Brown, an Australian biologist studies fish intelligence and he says, “Most fish species are social and have the capacity for individual recognition.”

He adds, “We have known that for more than 20 years. We also know that fish can use facial features to categorize predator and non predators. Fish are much smarter than people think.”

Snowflake Pumpkie Pie

Now I know that Pumpkin Pie, the orange koi with the black spots featured above and at the beginning and end of this feeding frenzy video, recognizes me for more than just being the “food man”!

So, she’s not just a Pavlov fish! 🙂

By the way, she’s the one that I rescued from the mouth of a mink late last summer.  You can read about that harrowing experience here.  (Again, the link below will open in a new window.)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2015/08/17/my-first-hand-encounter-with-a-predator/

NEW LADY GAGA MUSIC

People waiting for Gaga’s first new album of pop material since 2013’s “Artpop” (not counting 2014’s “Cheek to Cheek” with Tony Bennett) may have to wait until later this year or early 2017!

Sir Elton John reveals that he’s heard two or three of the new songs and they are “absolutely brilliant”.

Until the new music arrives, this is still one of my favorite Lady Gaga songs.

FIRST LADIES

As you know and you can’t escape, it’s an election year.  I’ve been reading mostly autobiographies, biographies, and books about political figures.

I just finished “First Ladies” by Betty Boyd Caroli.  It was an easy read because it spent just a few pages or so on each of our president’s wives.

Here are a few tidbits I learned that you may already know. If not, they may come in handy while watching “Jeopardy” one day.

First Ladies.jpg

Martha Washington:  A multi-millionaire (adjusted to today’s dollar) left to her after her first husband’s death.

Abigail Adams:  Very hands-on in helping to shape her husband’s, John Adams, policies.

Martha Jefferson: Died almost two decades before Thomas Jefferson became president, so she was never First Lady, but future First Lady Dolley Madison stood in to entertain at the White House for President Jefferson.

Dolley Madison:  Before being forced to evacuate the White House in August 1814 before British soldiers burned it down, she saved the painting of General Washington.

Elizabeth Monroe:  Ordered her dresses from France at reportedly $1,500 each and wasn’t regarded as too social in her role as First Lady.

Louisa Adams:  Only First Lady born outside of the United States (London, England) and she was the daughter-in-law to second president, John Adams.

Rachel Jackson:  She died days after her husband, Andrew, was elected president, so she was never officially First Lady.

Hannah Van Buren:  She also died before her husband, Martin, became president.

Anna Harrison:  She was the wife of the ninth U.S. President and grandmother of the 23rd president, Benjamin Harrison.  While she was First Lady, she never actually lived in the White House because her husband, William Henry Harrison, died on his 32nd day as president, and she hadn’t moved in yet.

Letitia Tyler:  She was the first First Lady to die while living in the White House (stroke).

I hope you learned something there and I’ll share more First Lady tidbits in the next “Random Friday Thoughts”.

ONE MORE “PULSE” TRIBUTE

Back in 2013, I shared an interview and blog about Eli Lieb, an Iowa singer and songwriter working to make it to the big time.

Eli Lieb Facebook

Since he grew up not far from the Quad Cities, I’ll post the blog again after the video.

His self-titled album was one of my twenty favorites of 2013.

He and Brandon Skeie, both out and proud singers and songwriters released “Pulse” earlier this week to honor the gay nightclub victims.

Here’s that blog about Eli from 2013.

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2013/07/16/finding-young-love-a-world-away-from-iowa/

THAT’S IT

Typically, I have less serious material in my “Random Friday Thoughts”, but there is so much to process this week.

Take care of yourself and those around you.

Thank you for checking out my thoughts this week and, as always, feel free to share your thoughts with me.  If we disagree, do it diplomatically.  More gets resolved that way.

Have a great weekend!

Anthony

Deadly Gay Nightclub Attack — We’re all “One”

The worst mass shooting in American history took place Saturday night in an Orlando, Florida, gay nightclub called “Pulse”.

In a story that’s still developing as I write this Sunday, Orlando’s mayor says 50 people are dead and another 53 are hurt. (Monday, the total was updated to 49 victims inside the club, plus the shooter.)

Pulse.jpg

This is deadlier than the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 or Sandy Hook five years later.

I pray for each and every person — gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning, or straight — in that nightclub.  I pray for their families and their friends that someone took it upon himself to come into that nightclub to destroy the lives of everyone there and for the people who love them.

This is a disgusting act of cowardliness and it’s a sad expression of where some in humanity stand in life.  It’s pathetic and heartbreaking!

The motive is still unknown as I write this.

If this shooting and mass murder took place because it was a gay nightclub, that compounds an already inhumane act.

Hate is hate!  No one has the right to inflict emotional or physical pain or death upon another person because they think being gay is a sin.

Let God decide that when the time comes.

Learn to be human and talk about your differences or move along down the road in a different walk of life.

PrideFlag

June is the month for Americans to celebrate “Gay Pride”.

It’s a time to celebrate diversity and everything that we in the LGBTQ community has had to fight for in life — from being discriminated against for who we are, to having others neglect them and kick them out of their homes for being different, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Stonewall_Inn_1969

“Gay Pride” was established in 1970 after the Stonewall Riots in New York City in the summer of 1969.

Bar patrons, who already had to hide in the shadows to meet, said to police who came in harassing them on a regular basis, “enough is enough”.

They fought back with bottles, rocks, and whatever they could find to protect themselves. Harassment, even at the hands of police, who demeaned and mocked gay people at the bar, is harassment and is wrong.  (You read can more about the “Stonewall Riots” at the bottom of this blog.  I re-posted my blog from four years ago.)

Stonewall_riots

The “Stonewall Riots” started a revolution!  Gay people could be themselves anywhere in America — whether it be Mayfield, Kentucky,  Pocatello, Idaho, or San Francisco, California.

When America is faced with an act of terrorism, such as the 9/11 attacks in September 2001 or terrorist attacks on a smaller scale, we stand strong in the face of sadness, tears, and blood.

As Gay Pride events take place this month, I hope all our friends embrace the LGBTQ community and look out for us, just as we would do for you — we are one!

I’m thinking of the U2 song, “One” right now and I think it’s appropriate.

I hope America and the world come together at this sad time to open their arms and open their hearts to their brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ community.

We’re human just like you — we love and we want to find love, we work and pay taxes, we’re someone’s son, daughter, brother, sister, niece, nephew, friend, or co-worker.

And, when some coward charges into a nightclub armed with “an assault-type weapon, a handgun” and “some type of (other) device”, we bleed and die just like the rest of America and the world.

All we want is peace, love, and understanding.

peace_love_understanding

That starts at home, at schools, and at work.  That starts with each one of us.

Please pray for those hurt and killed, their families and friends, and the world.  We all need that prayer now.

Anthony

If you want to read more about the “Stonewall Riots”, I posted this in 2012, so it’s now been 47 years, not 43.

Click here:  https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/06/27/push-comes-to-shove-43-years-ago-the-stonewall-riots/

A Sad & Senseless Way to Die

Pumpkins, corn stalks, and scarecrows are common autumn and Halloween decorations this time of the year.  Fourteen years ago this afternoon, a passing cyclist saw what he thought was a scarecrow on this Laramie, Wyoming fence.

It wasn’t a scarecrow.  It was the frail, comatose body of 21-year-old University of  Wyoming student Matthew Shepard.

Matthew had been robbed, pistol-whipped, tied to the fence for 18 hours, and left to die in 30° Wyoming weather.  When he was found, he had fractures to the back of his head and to the front of his right ear.  Matthew had brain stem damage so severe that doctors could not operate.  He had a dozen or so cuts on his head, face, and neck.

Matthew never regained consciousness and was on full life support for days until he died in the early morning hours of October 12, 1998.

On the evening of October 6, 1998, Matthew was at the Fireside Lounge in Laramie, Wyoming, when he met Aaron McKinney (right) and Russell Henderson (left).

While drinking that evening, the two men came up with a plan to give Matthew a ride home and rob him.  Kristen Price, girlfriend of McKinney, later testified that Henderson and McKinney “pretended they were gay to get [Shepard] in the truck and rob him.”

In the trial, the two men claimed that Matthew came on to them and they panicked and that’s when the crime moved from robbery to homicide.  Media reports claim that Matthew was beaten so severely that when he was found, his face was covered in blood except where his tears partially washed away the blood.

Henderson (above) pleaded guilty in April 1999 and agreed to testify against McKinney to avoid the death penalty.  He is now serving two consecutive life sentences.

McKinney was found guilty by a jury of felony murder.  While the jury was deliberating the death penalty, Matthew’s parents negotiated a deal that would keep him from being put to death.  In return, he would serve two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Matthew’s parents, Dennis and Judy Shepard, have worked tirelessly to bring “hate crimes” front and center in America.  In December 1998, they established the “Matthew Shepard Foundation” that supports diversity and tolerance in youth organizations.

Three years ago this month, President Barack Obama signed “The Matthew Shepard Act” into law, which added crimes motivated by the victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability to the 1969 United States federal hate-crime law.

Today, tomorrow, the next day, and every day after that, my heart goes out to Judy and Dennis Shepard and every parent that has watched their son or daughter die at the hands of some ignorant person or persons that were not man or woman enough to love their fellow-man or leave them well enough alone.

Matthew, on December 1, 2012, you should have been celebrating your 36th birthday.  You should have had a chance to love and be in love, to be a parent, or to be anything you wanted to be.

I’m so sorry that the last thing you saw before you slipped into a coma was the darkness around Laramie, Wyoming that night or the sun rising that morning tied to a fence and left for dead.

Your courage to be you may have cost you your life, but you will not be forgotten and I’ll do whatever I can to make sure you’re not forgotten.

Anthony