Archive for category LGBT
Ladyjustice was struck by this one of a kind facility introduced historically within the new documentary/DVD “We Were There” as an interested party on many levels, LJ was fascinated by its origins “out of necessity”. Described as participants going to war… indeed the early1980’s through the1990s was a battle field with little direction- more questions than answers.
A variety of sources yielded the following facts regarding this precedent setting hospital. References:
ü Ward 5B opened officially on july25,1983 driven by fear of a contagious disease which was escalating;
ü Nursing staff were solicited from the gay community – lesbians and many male nurses who were also infected with the AIDS virus;
ü San Francisco General became a national and international model for compassionate care with just one dozen nurses initially
ü Treatment plans were holistic in nature including psychological support for patients, families and friends;;
ü For the first time, same sex partners were welcomed and included every phase of treatment, thus advancing the civil gay couples and re-defining the meaning of “family;”
ü Dr. Mervyn Silverman, former Director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health opposed the unit…. He later said at their 20th anniversary in 2003, “Fortunately, I was proven completely wrong.”
ü City-wide, a total of 19,393 San Franciscans died from AIDS between 1981and 2003;
ü Admissions within San Francisco General from the first patient to 2003 totaled 21,500 stays;
ü Clinical research was initiated freely prior to the regulation of today including he use of medical marijuana;
ü Marijuana studies were inspired by Mary Jane Rothburn, better known as “Brownie Mary” who furnished the day clinic and AIDS in-patients with “pot-laced sweets;”
ü Steve Keith who was a volunteer nurse on the unit for nearly 20 years became the unofficial historian/archivists, collecting files saved by head nurse, correspondence, books, other publications, videos and scrapbooks;
ü The most treasured entry-signature was that of Mother Theresa;
ü Nurse George Jalbert was the first nurse to die in 1987. Today a plaque bears the names of 42 nursing staff who succumbed to the virus;
ü With the advent of protease inhibitors (a class of anti-viral drugs that prevent the replication of HIV proteins) Ward 5A had empty beds. Therefore, they expanded treatment to include other oncology patients – 1/3Aids;1/3 oncology; 1/3 general medical patients;
ü US World &News & Report recognized SFG among the best hospitals in AIDS care from 1991-1997, with other facilities attempting to implement their model.
ü A highlight every week was the appearance of dancer and single Mom “Rita Rockett” who entertained and ultimately cooked her way into everyone’s hearts. She sponsored pot lucks, birthday, pajama parties and holiday dinners. Rita stated, “I come from a large family. …. Whenever there is something wrong, you bring food.”
ü A 2011 Center for Disease Control report stated 1,200 million Americans are infected with HIV which causes AIDS. Of those, 2o% or 240,000 don’t know they have it due to the “underground nature” of the virus, whose symptoms may not be revealed for years;
ü Only 40% of the 1, 2 million afflicted are receiving HIV fighting medications on a regular basis. In addition, only 28% have achieved low levels of viral infection in their blood. Thus, 850,000 Americans do not have the virus controlled. Officials say… “We could be doing a lot better.”
ü Low levels of treatment may be attributed to a number of factors… lack of money, not allowing sufficient time before medications take effect and a small percentage in which treatment is not effective;
ü “The Good News” – Once tested, diagnosed and treatment begins, with effective medical care provided, the virus is brought under control about 80% of the time;
ü On the day of the 20th anniversary of Unit 5Bthere were but four patients with HIV on Ward 5A;
ü Testing for HIV alone isn’t good enough, according to CDC officials. San Francisco has aggressively and routinely offered HIV testing and follow-up treatment in emergency rooms;
ü A Novel Approach- A Department of Motor Vehicles office in Washington, D. C. has offered $5.00 gift cards to patrons waiting for address changes and licenses if they agree to take an HIV test (Due to the city’s widespread infection rate);
ü Black gay and bi-sexual men reportedly account for about a quarter of all new HIV infections in the U.S. currently;\
ü Parting Comments Re San Francisco General:
ü Steve Keith, one of the original nurse volunteers who stayed to work with patients and family members for nearly29 tears accidently stuck himself six times with needles over time and learned he was HIV positive in 1995. He commented on his longevity on the Unit at SFG in a 2003 article this way: “It’s like an old boyfriend… You never stop loving that person…or place… They are always a part of your life.”
ü Nurse Diane Jones, another original Ward 5B recruit described working with a patient who previously was very handsome and worked as a model. Due to the virus, he developed the worse case of Kaposi’s sarcoma .they had ever encountered. His features were so distorted with purple lesions, he resembled the “Elephant man.” The vigil for his death was so prolonged his family had come and gone… While bathing him one day, he explained to Diane why he “couldn’t simply give up and die.” He said, “I have a commitment to life. I cannot turn off the life force.” “Life doesn’t usually teach those lessons in your 20s and 30s,” Jones said.
- Premature Aging Hits Longtime HIV+ (joemygod.blogspot.com)
- Why I will continue to fight against HIV … Until There’s A Cure (untiltheresacure.wordpress.com)
- Man Claims He Is First Person Cured Of HIV Due To Rare Gene Mutation (stlouis.cbslocal.com)
- Tips 10 Steps to Staying Healthy With HIV (everydayhealth.com)
- ‘Berlin Man,’ doctor convinced HIV cure is real (metronews.ca)
- Gambia says cures more HIV patients with herbs (news.yahoo.com)
- Handy HIV tests help more learn status (sfgate.com)
Robin McHaelean, an MSW and true pioneer in the field of sexual minority and gender issues, appears very comfortable in her own skin… She speaks with a clarity, passion and compassion which are so vital to the workings of her non-profit, Our True Colors. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Our True Colors. www.ourtruecolors.org. She has travelled the journey personally and professionally dealing with the invisible and often “throw away” youth since the early 1990’s. Was it prophetic that her very first conference for lesbian, gay and bi-sexual youth was called “Children of the Shadows” with 250 kids in attendance? And… although it was transformational, no one could have predicted that this organization and this conference would surround the forgotten children with love and safety since 1992.
Listen to interview with Robin and Kamora of True Colors on Shattered Lives:
Robin and her Mentoring Program Coordinator, Kamora Le’Ella Herrington, spoke with Ladyjustice and Delilah of Imagine Publicity in a lively and information packed fashion that seemed to fly by! Perhaps the best way to capture all of the information is in a factual manner point by point. However, readers are encouraged to listen to the audio version as well… (Minus a little technical difficulty with someone’s phone in the beginning) The audio version and their repartee bear witness that they are part of a dedicated team, they are articulate, witty, filled with conviction, realism, hope and LOVE for those they serve!
- Our True Colors is an education and advocacy organization for sexual and gender minority youth with its grass roots efforts beginning in 1992 (Refer to detailed Timeline on their website);
- Components include a mentoring program, the largest LGBT conference in the World (3,000 attendees at this month’s conference); a private professional partnership with the Department of Children & Families and model program including foster home or group home placements and training of 2400 professionals to date;
- Robin began by “filling gaps” and kept moving to meet the ever increasing needs as more and more youth indeed began to “come out of the shadows” and make themselves known with the safe haven she was building;
- Gay-straight alliances within school in Connecticut numbered just four in the early 90’s with as many as 170 currently in high schools and a few middle schools;
- The average age of “coming out” is currently 11 to 13 years of age. True Colors is attempting to build support for this age group with a greater presence and continued trainings;
- Guidance counselors and school social workers may be very supportive within their respective school settings…. However, it depends on the individual as they may carry their own biases and feel uncomfortable as well.
- Readers should be aware that “coming out is a process…. Foe some youth it is “no big deal…for others it is a very big deal. Kamora credits Robin as being an integral part of the number of GSA’s in Connecticut and creating an environment in which gay youth can have their own space, feel part of a majority and be safe…;
- Mentoring – Technically, Kamora states that her mentoring program has 52 matches… However, although those enrolled are supposed to be aged 14 to 21, others on the periphery of the age limit consider themselves part of the extended program. She has managed the program for 7 years but it has not yet been replicated;
- In order to mentor, an applicant must be 24 years and participate in an extensive and not necessarily gay or share the same background. They may share different types of trauma or social history and will still be a successful match; True Colors services those in CT, New York or Massachusetts and border communities;
- Kamora provided a sense of realism in her witty style that many gay youth get the wrong impression that “all gay persons are wonderful and all heterosexuals are hateful… “ At the same time, gay youth come with issues beyond orientation and gender such as PTSD, ADHD, mental health issues and addiction cultural issues, other family dysfunction….or general loudness and obnoxiousness. The sky will not open up nor will doves fly….just because they are accepted in one environment or by one person… HOWEVER, we cannot stress enough that there are so many gay youth who have absolutely no one to love them and need that mentoring influence and love!
- Kudos to DCF social workers who go the extra mile to embrace their clients, such a Tonya Sutton. Kamora commented that if paid professional work with clients but don’t love them it is a problem for these displaced kids who frequently don’t live with their families of origin (their bio families) as they have been rejected and kicked out of their homes. Social workers have bias as well and may not be able to work effectively with them.
- STATS – True Colors XiX “Celebrating Our Allies” March 16-17, 2012 Conference: A total of 3.113 participants; 115 high schools; 30 colleges and Universities with 14 different states represented throughout the U.S; In addition, the Conference is very diverse in race, ethnicity and gender…… (And isn’t that the way it should be??)
- Although National and local organizations like PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) do a stellar job of advocacy, education and support to family members, at times, it becomes a challenge to provide the support needed to different cultural and ethnic families who are not comfortable with their format and services due to differences in beliefs or “privacy matters.” Therefore, True Colors seeks to pull in kinship relationships to assist gay youth…such as aunt, uncles’ cousins who can be accepting. TC’s work with adults is limited, and not a primary focus. However, they interface with many adults who work with youth;
- At the conclusion of their recent conference, a crisis was averted when two young men, each 18 who were described as “gentle and not streetwise” were thrown out of their family homes and had nowhere to go. As they were 18, DCF could not assist. Robin provided shelter information for the Hartford area. However, more importantly, she looked to her network of mentors who stepped up… and provided temporary refuge for these vulnerable young men. STATS- Depending upon the study used, gay youth represent 5 to 10 or 11% of homelessness overall; whereas the homeless population among gays increases to between 25 to 40%;
- If gay youth are under the care of the state and placed in a group home, such kids may be targeted within that environment and may not be safe; Many have experienced abuse and trauma;
- How do you prepare kids and prepare families for the process? Robin states that in the ideal situation you want to intervene early in the process. The number one predictor of how gay kids will do is the initial response of parents. When they struggle, most families move from rejection to ambivalence to acceptance (if they progress though all of these stages)
- Providing wrap around services and providing time and space for parents and providing kids a yardstick comparing how long it took each kid to recognize and then accept their orientation or gender (and then multiply that by five)
- Kamora stated that “Life is messy….. We can set ducks in a row…but orientation and gender is only part of it… The larger picture must be considered such as the time and space needed Teenagers need things to happen immediately and do not understand that in time there may be acceptance …or not. [For whatever reasons of their own, Ladyjustice was not able to progress as far as she would like on the continuum with her bio family.] In such cases, the alternative is to develop surrogate families with other groups of friends. It is indeed more complex when one has a disability as well…as society frequently cannot look beyond physical characteristics that get in the way for the judging party;
- BULLYING & HARASSMENT: Robin reported that youth who are targeted most are those who are gender non-conforming (i.e. effeminate boys and masculine identifying females) and therefore are the most at risk for harassment. 7th, 8th, 9th grades are the most targeted populations, particularly those with special needs or are gender non-conforming;
- One in Five gay youth stay home from school daily due to bullying or harassment. And… they are seven times more likely to be assaulted by a weapon!
- Hyper-Vigilance: Robin gave the example of a high school youth who was in a CT high school with many resources, but still had to be hypervigilent…. Wore the hood of his jacket up, slumped his posture, stayed close to the wall trying to be “an unobtrusive gay person”… The fact is gay youth cannot be protected 24/7… parking lots, hallways, bathrooms remain territories which represent unsafe areas even if they are partaking of school resources. Can you just imagine the stress? As one educator said… “If you see mean…intervene!”
- Kamora recounted the case of a bullied student who was harassed unmercifully… when he finally fought back, that is the point that resources were brought in to the picture. This sends the wrong message…. It is okay to harass the gay kid until he tries to defend himself! No!
- Robin, Kamora and Delilah spoke to the matter of progressiveness regarding gay issues and human rights issues depending upon thee geographic area in which you live. It is generally thought that the south maintains a higher level of prejudice against sexual minority and gender issues… ignore it altogether or has few resources; whereas the “progressive northeast – New England area is “miles ahead… Kamora warned that we in Connecticut are often “lulled unto a sense of complacency regarding our acceptance as a state.” ‘Just a couple of years ago, she cited an example in which a youth in CT had an exorcism videotaped. Such things are supposed to happen “elsewhere.”
- Media portrayal is difficult to gauge in terms of help versus hindrance. The fact is, most of today’s gay youth now get there first dating experience over the internet which can be both good and bad…;
- Robin consults with other states and has even trained others in Brussels…. She welcomes the opportunity to share with other states;
- Those who are interested in contacting Jamie Goddard in Bridgeport who manages a program for gay persons seeking employment who also happen to have disabilities- physical or mental health contact the CT Department of Labor;
- ***Her most important message is addressed to families who may have the opportunity to foster youth or mentor them.. It is powerful, meaningful and life changing. “If you don’t have a dollar… If you don’t have a spare bedroom… If you don’t have extra time, Kamora advised to “just smile or start a conversation with a gay youth”. It will mean the world to them…. And make their burden that much lighter… (LJ)
- To make a donation or inquiry regarding programming please contact:
- Mailing Address:
- True Colors, Inc.
576 Farmington Ave.
Hartford, CT 06105
Phone: (860) 232-0050
Fax: (860) 232-0049
- True Colors: email@example.com
True Colors Conference: firstname.lastname@example.org
Workshops, Trainings, and Seminars: email@example.com
The Safe Harbor Project: firstname.lastname@example.org
- SHATTERED LIVES with Donna R. Gore: Robin McHaelen of True Colors (donnagore.com)
- Bullying Among Children and Youth on Perceptions and Differences in Sexual Orientation (education.com)
- What shields gay youth from suicide (eurekalert.org)
- In The Life Media video | An episode about trans and gender-nonconforming children (miamiherald.typepad.com)
SHATTERED LIVES with Donna R. Gore, “LadyJustice”
Examining the effects of those who have survived violent crime and how it has impacted their lives.
Real people, real tragedy, real help.
Saturdays at 5pm ET Listen LIVE: CLICK HERE
Shattered Lives welcomes Founder and Executive Director of True Colors, Robin McHaelen
True Colors is a non-profit organization that works with other social service agencies, schools, organizations, and within communities to ensure that the needs of sexual and gender minority youth are both recognized and competently met. The organization trains more than 2400 people annually, organizes the largest LGBT youth conference in the country with more than 2000 attendees and manages the state’s only LGBT mentoring program. True Colors has been spotlighted by both national and local media for their expertise in LGBTI youth issues, including most recently CNN.
Robin McHaelen began organizing the first “Children From the Shadows” (CFS) conference – Children From the Shadows: Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Youth At Risk. The University of Connecticut, School of Social Work approved the idea of creating a conference about LGBT youth and the risks associated with sexual minority status.
True Colors stands for full equality for LGBT youth, adults and families. We are actively supporting same sex marriage equity. We are committed to the work of social justice as an anti-racist organization. And with youth in the lead, we expect to move into our next decade with a continued passion to ensure that LGBT people are welcomed, valued and affirmed as full and productive members of society.
The True Colors One-on-One mentoring program can best be summed up as “the LGBT Big Brothers/Big Sisters”. One-on-One Mentors meet with youth individually as well as in group activities such as game night, movie night, hiking trips, beach days, etc.
- Shattered Lives with Donna R. Gore: Janice Smolinski, My Son is Missing (imaginepublicity.com)
- SHATTERED LIVES with Donna R. Gore and Guests, Robin Kraemer and Jennifer Lopez of Interval House (donnagore.com)
- SHATTERED LIVES with Donna R. Gore “LadyJustice”: CT Victims Advocate, Michelle Cruz (imaginepublicity.com)
- SHATTERED LIVES with Donna R. Gore welcomes Sam and Wanda Rieger (donnagore.com)
- Shattered Lives with Donna R. Gore: Who is She and Why do They Call Her “LadyJustice?” (donnagore.com)
Justice comes in many forms… When it comes, whether in small doses or as a matter of significance, it is frequently precipitated by acts of courage. This writer has the utmost respect for those who have demonstrated acts of courage in their pursuit of justice. When courage is linked with justice, it can be for a personal cause or “for the greater good” as a means of helping others to open the door for change.
Here are but two cases- one recent and one considerably less recent, but no less impressive!
A recent case for the pairing of courage and justice for the greater good concerns the story of Katie Miller, a former United States Military West Point cadet, Class of 2012. Katie was no slouch as she ranked ninth in a class of 1,157. Although she was attracted to West Point’s holistic educational approach, she realized sometime earlier that her true sexual orientation was that of a lesbian. Katie felt stunted living a double life despite her achievements. Katie saw a window of opportunity to create a positive impact for others in the military who suffered the same torment, as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is not consistent with coming out of the closet.
According to an article from the Yale Daily News, the officer accepting her resignation (versus serving out a commitment of seven years in uniform) told Katie that she was “throwing her life away” and that she should be disciplined enough to “sacrifice a small portion of her life to remain in service.” [LJ- Excuse Me… a small portion of her life??? Why oh why does the military persist in thinking it’s about sex?]
To date, Katie has chosen to complete her education at Yale University, continuing her major in sociology and the opportunity to explore the freedom from oppression in the LGBT community surrounding Yale. Three cheers for Katie! She bucked the system, kept her dignity and continues her educational pursuits….and maybe even ROTC at Yale in the future!
LadyJustice’s heart was touched many years ago by the following story. The fact that it is folded in her wallet and well worn – at least ten years or more is a testament to its value.
This is a re-print of a “PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) Family Profile” written by Glenda Glass, matriarch of the family, in Henderson, Kentucky.
“Our story began on August 15, 1991, the day after my husband and I celebrated our 31st anniversary. As we kissed goodnight, I remember noting how easy and trouble free our life had been: our daughter, Dana had finished her education, married and had a good job. Our son Ben was in his second year of divinity school. Neither of them had given us any problems.
The very next day, Dana came to us to tell us that she was getting divorced and asked for our support. During the conversation, we learned that Ben was coming home to tell us he was gay. In the previous months, both my children had always been supportive of each other. This is one part of the story that makes me happy as a mother…
Our daughter Dana made sure that we understood that Ben could never change; that it is not a choice for him; that he had never planned to admit it but he could no longer live with the lie. As a mother, what happened next, made me cry…
Dana told me that Ben was driving around town in his car waiting for her pre-arranged signal:
If her car was still parked at our home, it meant that we are still talking and he was supposed to keep riding around;
If her car was gone, it meant that she told us and we were not accepting and that he should go home;
But… if Dana told us and we were accepting, she would put the light on in his former bedroom window.
My heart nearly broke… We immediately jumped up and turned on every light in the house including the porch lights, the front spot light, the attic and even…every closet light! When our son drove into the driveway the house was a beacon to him that our love was unconditional and that we would always be there for him. It was a magic moment for all of us.”
Please support PFLAG national or your local chapter…. They need allies as well as those in the community!
Wouldn’t it indeed be wonderful if each of us could have every light turned on for us? That’s the day I live for!!
Moral of the story: When courage is paired with justice, wonderful things happen!
Proudly Written by:
Ladyjustice is a veteran of cruising…on the ocean – not a troller of the bar scene. This coming October, God willing, LJ will make her 9th voyage as a cruise line passenger with Denny Griffin’s “Mystery Cruise” group out of Long Beach, California.
In some ways, oh how things have changed in 30+ years since LJ was in her 20’s and on her maiden voyage with three Chicago girls (previously unknown to her).
Although there are still those cruise lines that cater to seniors, many cruise lines have had to “reinvent the ship’s wheel” to keep pace with current interests and technology. Virtually gone are the days of “flowing evening gowns,” midnight buffets every night, and long receiving lines to shake the captain’s hand. Instead, we have rock climbing walls, elaborate slides, full service health and wellness spas and glass blowing demonstrations…to name a few.
The original Queen Elizabeth II has elegant décor in an old world way but is somewhat “stodgy” regarding activities in LJ’s opinion. It appears to Ladyjustice that the Brit’s idea of real entertainment is karaoke with lots of Tom Jones (Yes… the same lingerie receiving Tom Jones from the 1960’s); a British soap opera, Benny Hill reruns or maybe, if you’re lucky, an English style variety show as the big feature of the week.
And, did Ladyjustice happen to mention that this trip which was gay-friendly, and included a group of approximately 60 gay men and LJ as their only female in the group?? Yes, they lied about other women participating. What a shock when it came to the meet and greet cocktail party. No, matter, this blogger made the best of it and still had a good time! In addition, LJ possesses a great group photo of the event!
This writer has also experienced women’s cruises and family cruises (with the former couple, Rosie and Kelli O’Donnell). To be honest, these were LJ’s favorites. Ladyjustice loves all people. However, to be in the company of interesting women from all walks of life… is heaven!
With all of the good features offered, LJ has encountered discrimination travelling as a single/solo traveller and as a person with a disability! In fact, a former dream of this writer was to create a full-service travel service exclusively for single travellers. The U.S. vacationer is no longer a “couples only” experience. We have all kinds of singles – single professionals, divorcees, widows, singles with children etc. For years, LJ has been minimally successful in locating a cabin mate with whom to travel. They’re married with kids, they have no money, they have no vacation time, they have never been on a cruise ship and buy into the idea that they will be seasick etc. etc. And… despite her penchant for neatness, LJ can be reasonably flexible and compromise for the sake of a suitable/compatible person for seven days. Not so easy! Be aware that as a single, with few exceptions, you are obligated to pay a full double occupancy rate (Occasionally, you may find a 1.5 rate).
The usual excuses for not reducing the rates for single occupancy have been…. That they claim to lose too much money in lack of food and liquor consumption if a room isn’t double occupied.
[LJ’s response – You’ve got to be kidding… Do you know how much food is discarded on a cruise ship daily? As for alcohol consumption, that is bologna too, as others more than make up for LJ’s very minimal drinking.]
[Note: If you could see the “sticker shock” and utter disbelief LJ has seen at the termination of cruises when a party-hardy cruiser takes inventory of their “charge it and worry later” mentality! What a waste of brain cells and money to be in a constant state of intoxication… ] LJ believes that any cruise line would recoup their investment with solo/single passengers if such a service was offered.
A caveat: With the severe prolonged economic drought, all cruise companies are hurting for business. All the more reason to offer single occupancy rates that are fair!
The last time this blogger chose to challenge this ruling, she was told, the double occupancy rule is “an industry standard.” (i.e. You can’t fight City Hall). There are exceptions…An industry wide Congressional investigation was initiated by former Connecticut Congressman Christopher Shays, after honeymoon cruiser George Allen Smith IV mysteriously went missing on July 5, 2005 and is presumed murdered to this day…. But, this dear readers, is the exception to the rule… and that case would make a good blog for another time…
Thus far, the immoveable object (cruise line industry) had not met the irresistible force of Ladyjustice with all of her resources at hand!
Blatant Discrimination Due to Disability:
Back in 2002, this writer was a force to be reckoned with after the President of Olivia (Women’s) Cruises allowed her staff to abruptly ban this seasoned cruiser from travelling with them a third time as a single unless “someone accompanied LJ to watch over her 24 hours a day.” Say, what??
One would think that with the Americans with Disabilities Act in force, no problems would be encountered… in addition to the fact that LJ was and is a very low maintenance traveller. However, Sadly this was not the case.
Is the ADA Enforceable on Cruise Ships?
There is an ongoing legal argument that in which LJ became well versed. When and where is the Federal ADA regulations observed and enforced? Some legal experts say that it applies anywhere a ship docks in the US, because they dock at U.S. ports. Others say that as they fly under foreign flags- countries, and therefore they are not subject to such “potentially architecturally expensive” anti-discrimination regulations.
A third school of thought is that they are not subject to US rules once they are 12 miles out to sea ….This did not help LJ build her case. However, discrimination is discrimination!
The “Oh, No” Experience with Olivia Cruises
The following narratives are excerpts taken from a detailed letter written by this blogger, to “plead her case” to Judy D’lugacz, founder and President of Olivia Records and Cruses. (There was also a nightmare of a problem with an airline ticket which was excluded from this material). Never fear, should Judy read this blog in 2011, she might just cower in the corner in embarrassment!
“Hopefully, you will recall me as a two-time customer, prior to my communications with Olivia. I had been your company’s biggest fan in New England and had thoroughly enjoyed my pervious experiences….
Believe me when I say that if this situation were just a matter of forsaking one vacation option, I would leave it at that and move on. However, since Olivia Cruises is the type of vacation I can partake in fully and the only women’s cruise of it’s kind, it has far reaching ramifications for any and all vacations for me in the future!
“About eight years ago, I went on my second of two Olivia cruises, as the only travel company specifically for gay women. At that time, they had a staff member walk with me on a couple of the walking tours in France and Italy. I am ambulatory, but now use a cane for balance and have joint contractures making it slower /more difficult to bend. I require a handrail on stairs. Otherwise, I manage quite well. I live independently, own my own condo, drive extensively and am very involved in selected community activities.
I looked into going on a European tour recently, destination to Scandinavia in August. (The Club Med tours are too young and athletically oriented.) The very first comment made by your general manager was “On the previous cruise, they thought I had taken time away from the staff person who could have been working elsewhere and that her assistance cost your company between $2,000 to $4,000!”
In the first place, I don’t believe such a dollar amount …and how totally insensitive of her to make such a statement to a former good and enthusiastic customer! Such a statement speaks volumes to any bright and enlightened person. Everyone to whom I related this story was aghast at such insensitivity. Although you say you have downsized your staff, I would recommend some much needed training on disability issues and sensitivity training!
However, ignorance aside, she offered me a 2 for 1 package deal if I could find a travel companion. After considerable effort through friends, I did find someone from the Boston area who was interested in being my travel mate. We were booked etc… when I discovered that this same general manager failed to inform us of an extra $350+ for gratuities and port charges, which as a consequence excluded my new friend financially.
Had I not received a large tax refund, I too would not have been able to afford it.
After relating my story about my friend having to drop out, Ms. Cruz
(General Manager) then offered me a time extension until the end of May, for which I was appreciative and told her so. ….The final irony is that, after the deadline expired, through my postings and selective advertising, I have two others who would have also been interested in joining me.
I feel I am going to encounter such struggles as a solo traveller again if I want to enjoy the company of other lesbians in the future…
I’ve found case law within the past year (Case #011-0244-CIV-King/O’Sullivan, USA vs. Norwegian Cruise Line Limited) in which a small group of blind persons were prohibited from travelling solo or coupled in which NCL imposed “a laundry list” of extra requirements not asked of other passengers. They violated Title III of the ADA by denying the group fair and equal enjoyment of the cruise ship offerings. My point is that NCL doesn’t care that they are breaking the Federal law! From a corporate standpoint, you are probably more concerned about your contract with NCL versus compliance with the Federal ADA Laws.
I have been told by more than one attorney that this case would be relevant to my situation. I have also called the Department of Justice and could not get past the initial clerks. After another phone call, I was told that “Someone checked with NCL” and that even if I was allowed to solicit help from among other passengers on the rare occasion that I needed it, I’d need someone to “be responsible for me 24 hours a day.”
I guess cruise lines view all people with disabilities as invalids ready for the nursing home….. or potential lawsuits. How sad!
[Note: There are actually cruises specifically equipped for terminally ill passengers and those with severe physical disabilities requiring full time care assistants and all manner of adaptive equipment] However, LJ has to be “monitored 24/7??
My manager at work who is also an attorney was irate and stated that your company should have provided the extra $400 each to enable us to go since Ms. Cruz failed to sufficiently explain the two for one . He also suggested that I sue you. I have no intention of doing so, as I prefer to choose my battles. Being an Advocate for the gay and lesbian community, the families of homicide and the disabled is enough advocacies for one person to carry, isn’t it?
By reputation and personal exposure, I have found you to be a reasonable person. I certainly do not wish to totally alienate the only company that can provide me with a satisfying vacation.
You advertise diversity, the ability for women to be free. I submit that after nearly 30 years experience as a voice and pillar in the lesbian community, your definition of diversity appears very narrow. What about thinking out of the “purple lesbian box” to market to others who are disabled and represent other minorities? (Blah, Blah, Blah……)
Judy’s eventual response to this letter is… and was a bit of a blur… You see, when she did respond by phone, it was a bad night. It was a Friday evening after work, eastern standard time. There had been torrential rains that afternoon… and someone hit my car. Ladyjustice was not at her best that night, and even cried a little…
Pardon me for not extolling the efforts of a Company President who installed a necessary and mandated ramp for her employee who was wheelchair bound… Equality is much more than infrastructure and physical access. It is just as much about how a person with a disability is treated. (i.e., attitudes, words, and actions pertaining to their circumstances.
A few months ago, this blogger sent an e-mail message to “the powers that be” to the Olivia website inquiring about current cruises, and essentially saying, let’s give this another try. No response was received from Olivia Cruises.
Have any lessons been learned in nine years? You are welcome to draw your own conclusions. Is it the fault of Ladyjustice that the parade of eligible dates is not at the door?? LJ says absolutely not! (Please refer to previous blog – July 2011-Dating & Damaged Goods)
The Good Stuff: A Few Points to Consider As a Disabled or Solo Passenger
(Especially if this is your first cruise…)
- Do your homework regarding the type of vacation you choose.
- Do you want to focus on specific ports of call and tourist attractions or mainly stay on the ship and enjoy all of the amenities?
[LJ prefers the latter if ports are inaccessible for whatever reason.]
- When travelling solo/and or disabled give yourself an extra day to make connections. i.e. Stay overnight in the city where the ship docks prior to departure. This is to ensure that if an airline connection is missed, you won’t miss your cruise. This measure also helps to decrease stress and fatigue.
- When researching shore excursions, don’t rely on website descriptions only. What is characterized by “lift exertion” for one person may be “moderate or a greater challenge” for your abilities. Rather, call the cruise line and /or speak to staff once onboard concerning which trips to book.
- There are different types of “disabled cabins.” Some offer roll in showers whereas others are modified with less assistive devices such as grab bars.
- Be sure to book these “little details” in advance…
Shuttle bus connections to airports, hotels and ship ports. If you have connecting flights, and are ambulatory, book wheelchair assistance at the airport. (You may be taken off the plane faster and this assistance ensures that you get to the proper gate on time. Book any dietary restrictions, travel insurance, adaptive equipment needs well in advance with the cruise line.
- Learning your way around a cruise ship can take the entire length of the cruise. So, once you find preferred locations, look for landmarks and…Don’t be afraid to ask! Everyone is there to help. They are the hospitality business!
- Be aware that there are different dining options. There are two seatings. If you have a choice verses being assigned, chose the dining style and time you prefer. If you like to eat at a reasonable earlier dining hour and attend the early show chose the first seating.
If you prefer to spend more time on your excursions and don’t want to be obligated to “rush back” to get ready for dinner, choose the late seating.
If you like to meet others, you might choose the “dine around” program and eat with new people each night. Or, if you like to eat with alone without other couples or with the same group, that’s fine.
Dud Alert: If you are placed with a couple at a table for four who “don’t say two word” or are “a real bore,” you can make your exit and ask to be assigned to another table for the next meal.
[As a single/solo traveller, LJ prefers large tables so that she can always find a few people to befriend, just in case some are “duds.”
As a single, if you are gregarious, like, LJ, chances are, you can “fit right in” anywhere.
- Just because you see a set of elevators, don’t assume it will take you to your destination. Cruise ships have several sets of elevators throughout which don’t always “lead you to the “main floor”
- The safety drill donning orange life preservers at the start of the cruise can be disorienting and a little scary if you have a disability.
It used to be, “all hands on deck” in which you have to report to a specific station -designated spot on a designated deck of the ship, read and listen to specific procedures… just in case “an unlikely event occurs.” However, it seems like lately, they have taken “the lazy way out” and “Everyone Report to the Auditorium” and watch a video. In LJ’s opinion, this is not true to life if a real emergency occurs…. Return to the “old way of doing things.”
- Oh yes…. You cannot use the elevators. Well, this blogger can do the multiple sets of stairs, especially with the help of gravity.
Should Ladyjustice lose her balance, there are many people around to “catch her” Ha! It only hurts of embarrassment for a minute!
However, there are certain designated safe areas for the disabled in which to report via the “air traffic controllers” nowadays.
- As a person with a disability, don’t forget to relish the things you can do on your vacation! Don’t fret that you can’t climb mountains.
For example, Ladyjustice loves to spend time in the warm whirlpools… They are very therapeutic physically and a great way to meet people from all walks of life. Coffee bars, retail shops, ice cream nooks, music venues, glass blowing demonstrations and any activity on the water are all favorites for this writer!
- Those of us who may need assistance to carry baggage, get from one place to another etc… carry a wad of one dollar bills. This helps tremendously at the airport, hotel and prior to boarding the ship.
“If you are a girl,” this saves so much time not to be fishing in your purse for a tip every five minutes.
“In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.”
Twenty years ago, Ladyjustice was in her 30’s and probably thought that she was “hot stuff” in her career and actively crusading for crime victims on the side, as the 1981 “murder date” wasn’t that long ago in time.
During that era, a new drama series featuring the role of police and prosecutors was a new concept. Now, thanks to the initial show and its series of spinoffs, this show’s genre is “old hat”. Law and Order premiered in September 1990 and aired its final episode in May 2010. Law and Order will go down in history as the longest consecutive running drama series in the U. S. to be tied with Gunsmoke… with Jim Arness (another law and order man… with a horse).
Old hat aside, the original Law and Order, particularly the characters from the 1990’s are like “a comfortable pair of slippers.” This blogger can have a great day…or a very frustrating day and take comfort in the old friends/characters like Detective Lenny Briscoe, DA’s Jack McCoy, Adam Schiff, “Rogers” the smart aleck medical examiner with no first name and the plethora of female DAs over the past 20 years.
Had Ladyjustice had the discipline to memorize all of the former cases and statues, perhaps she would have been Donna R. Gore, ADA. But alas, a homicide and future passion for justice wasn’t in the cards in Ladyjustice’s early 20’s. Coming close to something, like a paid career in crime victim advocacy “only counts in horseshoes…” Thus far…
All TV shows take liberties with the truth “for the sake of entertainment”. However, with the original Law and Order, the actors seemed so passionate and real against the backdrop of gritty New York City. This blogger therefore chooses to focus on its overall merits with fondness.
Ladyjustice’s favorite detective team was Lenny Briscoe (Jerry Orbach) and Mike Logan (Chris Noth). The older-younger generation, Jewish-Catholic banter was always entertaining. And, who can top Sam Waterston’s passionate closing statements or S. Epatha Merkerson’s sarcastic remarks?
All viewers knew that the disclaimer in the beginning that the story bearing any resemblance to “ripped from the headlines” was not purely fictional.
(They once did a story on a corrupt Governor (before it was commonplace) that coincided with the real life prosecution of a former Governor of Connecticut. (FYI, he “served his time”, just like Martha Stewart and is now a well paid municipal economic consultant and political talk radio host!)
The best lines were usually delivered at the end of the show’s opening and elsewhere by Lenny Briscoe, Anita Van Buren and Adam Schiff.
Lenny Briscoe: Dialogue Excerpts:
(2003) (To a reluctant witness) “There’s no such thing as hooker-client confidentiality.”
(1994) (Talking about a suspect out of state) “’New Hampshire? I spent a year there one weekend.”
(1998) (Talking to psychiatrist Emil Skoda)
Skoda: “You saw him. (7 year old suspect) He can’t connect the dots. He can’t grasp that others exist past his own needs.”
Briscoe: ‘Sounds like half of the people I know…”
Anita Van Buren: Dialogue Excerpts:
(Season 19-Episode 8) DA Jack McCoy “Eight and a half million, that’s how many children are sold into slavery each year.”
Van Buren: “Well, this plantation has closed.”
(Season 16-Episode 7) Det. Joe Fontana: “He seems like a pretty stand up guy.” Van Buren: “Yeah, well so did Scott Peterson.”
(Unknown Episode) Van Buren: “I’d better go. I’m late for my daily spanking on One Place Plaza.”
DA Adam Schiff: Dialogue Excerpts:
Schiff: “A motive pulled straight from the tabloids….And what about means and opportunity? Are you getting that from comic books?
Schiff: “Clarence Darrow had Leopold and Loeb. And who do we have?”
McCoy: “Beavis and Butthead”
Schiff: “(The week) started with a murder, ends with an execution. You got what you wanted. Take the rest of the week off.”
McCoy: “It’s Friday, Adam.”
Schiff: So it is… ‘See you on Monday.”
For Law and Order aficionados, the “da-dum” clunky musical chord that is interspersed throughout is a well known signature
Cagney and Lacey:
(Jazzy “Dueling trumpet and Clarinet Theme”- Listen!)
Speaking of very cool groundbreaking crime drama shows and enticing music, Cagney and Lacey, the three times cancelled and the only show resurrected by fans, is Lady Justice’s all time favorite! (In fact, LJ was lucky enough to purchase the entire collection!)
A few years ago, Ladyjustice was fortunate to participate in a LGBT cruise with R Family Vacations with the former couple, Rosie and Kelly O’Donnell. During that voyage, Cindy Lauper and Sharon Gless were special guests, “Ambassadors” if you will. Sharon, for the PFLAG’s Straight for Equality Program, (http://community.pflag.org/page.aspx?pid=565), as Sharon
is the proud grandmother of a lesbian granddaughter. This blogger had the opportunity to interact with Ms. Gless and she actually signed a placard LJ created for a “hero costume,” unbeknownst that Sharon was even attending the cruise!
This crime drama was the drama with heart, intensity, real social issues, and chemistry between two very different characters. These elements were the keys to success when women and television desperately needed serious, intelligent shows versus silliness (Like talking cars).
Just For Fun…. Watch and Listen!
(Bet you can’t watch it just once!)
In case you didn’t know the “Christine Cagney story”, here’s a brief bio from the Internet Movie Database;
Christine Cagney is the youngest child of Detective Charlie Cagney. She comes from a privileged background and was raised in a posh home in New York along with her brother Brian, and was a debutant much to the disgust of the tomboy. Her upbringing demonstrates itself in episodes that show her ability to speak French, knowledge of art and classical music, and interest in opera etc. She is also a sports fan, often sporting a New York Yankees coat or hat that shows her tomboy characteristics.
Cagney’s parents divorced when she was young and Chris’ closeness with her father wedges a gap between Chris and both her mother and brother. She was raised Catholic, attended a Nun-run school, and although she rarely practices (during the “Don’t I Know You?” episode she admits her last confession was almost twenty years ago) the beliefs are still somewhat engraved in her. She briefly got in trouble with the police during her rebellious teen years where she spent a night in a jail cell, but then turns her attention and efforts into becoming the first female police commissioner. She attends university, and while she’s away studying in Paris, her mother dies and she does not return home for the funeral. After university she returns to New York and is teamed with Detective Mary Beth Lacey. Her commitment and determination drives her quickly into becoming a Sergeant and she continues to scale the police academy ladder often putting off her personal life. During the episode “Choices” where she thinks she is pregnant she confesses to sometimes wanting a husband and child, but more often than not being happy with her free and single life. Through out the seasons we meet many of Chris’ boyfriends, most memorably a fellow Detective who struggles with a cocaine addiction, a lawyer who proposes marriage only to be turned down, and a recovered alcoholic plumber.
Charlie Cagney is a sort of role model for his daughter, and so when it is revealed that he sometimes took bribes while on the beat, it’s a devastating blow to Chris. Although Chris inherited a large sum of money from her mother and lives comfortably, Charlie struggles with both a low income and an inability to manage his finances. Chris and Brian both provide for him, and look after him during his illnesses and bouts with alcoholism.
Chris has her fair share of drama during the seasons she’s shot, raped, discusses a previous violent relationship, and suffers from her own alcoholism which really kicks in when her father dies. She reconnects with older brother Brian who lives on the West Coast whom she hasn’t seen in over 12 years and goes through many hard cases and emotional times with her partner Mary Beth Lacey. Her ambition and determination are juxtaposed with her vulnerability and need to fit in amongst the boys in the squad. This mix of qualities, both help and hinder the character and she is centered somewhat by partner Lacey. Together the pair work well and fit together with the season finale of the series leaving them with a chance of becoming part of a special crime unit.
And last but not least…..
Ladyjustice was schooled on justice while as a youngster, watching a million episodes of Perry Mason and Ironsides with her grandmother.
Ladyjustice used to say that there will be no “Ava Maria” at her funeral…. Instead, please do the Perry Mason piano melodies and the funky version of “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
Take a Listen to the one and only Perry Mason Theme: (Blues Brothers longer Version- Way Cool!)
Ladyjustice Signing off for now…..
(Should Gay History be included in the California School Curriculum and Textbooks?)
G- Genovese, Catherine Susan (Kitty) (July 7, 1935-March 13, 1964), was a New York City woman who was stabbed to death near her home in the Kew Gardens section of Queens, New York on March 13, 1964. Genovese shared her Kew Gardens, Queens, apartment with her lover, Mary Ann Zielonko
The circumstances of her murder and the lack of reaction of numerous neighbors became a rallying call for apathy of crime when it was reported that 38 people witnessed her murder and didn’t contact the police. This case became known in psychological circles as the “bystander or Genovese syndrome.”
A -Jane Addams (September 6, 1860 – May 21, 1935) was the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In a long, complex career, she was a pioneer settlement worker, founder of Hull House in Chicago, public philosopher (the first American woman in that role), sociologist, author, and leader in woman suffrage and world peace.
Y-Ken Yeager is an American politician from California, 2000-2006 serving on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, representing District 4. Yeager is openly gay, and the first openly gay elected official in San Jose. His long-time partner is Michael Haberecht.
H- Harvey Milk - American politician for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and gay rights activist. prior to his murder committed by Dan White. “What set Harvey apart from you or I was that he was a visionary. He imagined a righteous world inside his head and then he set about to create it for real, for all of us.” Milk was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.
I-William M. Inge May 3, 1913 – June 10, 1973) was an American playwright and novelist, whose works typically feature solitary protagonists encumbered with strained sexual relations. In the early 1950s, he had a string of memorable Broadway productions, and one of these, Picnic, earned him a Pulitzer Prize. With his portraits of small-town life and settings rooted in the American heartland, Inge became known as the “Playwright of the Midwest”.
S- (1) (The)Society for Human Rights in Chicagobecomes the country’s earliest known gay rights organization in 1924;
(2) 1969 TheStonewall riots transform the gay rights movement from one limited to a small number of activists into a widespread protest for equal rights and acceptance. Patrons of a gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village, the Stonewall Inn, fight back during a police raid on June 27, sparking three days of riots.
T- (Lucie Blue) Tremblay (Born 1958 in Montreal) is a Canadian folk singer-songwriter, who performs music with lesbian themes. She writes and performs material in both English and French. Her debut album, released in 1986 by Olivia Records, was voted Top Ten Album of the Year by the Boston Globe.
O- Olivia Records…..Olivia Cruises Founder and president, Judy Dlugacz, conceived and created Olivia Records in 1975 featuring women’s musical artists, producing 40 albums and sold over a million records. This was the genesis of Women’s Music as a genre.
Olivia Cruises started small in 1990 with a single voyage on a tiny ship. But 20 years later, the lesbian cruise company Olivia has become a major force in the industry, regularly chartering vessels that hold 2,000 passengers or more for all-lesbian vacations at sea. The San Francisco-based company, which has branched out into land vacations as well, has an average of 14 trips in the works, as of 2010.
R- (1) Jerome Robbins (October 11, 1918 – July 29, 1998) was an American theater producer, director, and choreographer known primarily for Broadway Theater and Ballet/Dance, but who also occasionally directed films and directed/produced for television. Robbins was a five time Tony Award winner and a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors. He also received two Academy Awards, including the 1961 Academy Award for Best Director with Robert Wise for West Side Story. A documentary about his life and work, Something to Dance About, featuring excerpts from his journals, archival performance and rehearsal footage and interviews with Robbins and his colleagues, premiered in PBS in 2009.
(2)Robert Reed-Shakespearean trained actor, appeared in “The Defenders” series and the popular and iconic TV series “The Brady Bunch.” Reed was the patriarchal figure to his blended family of six children. Although he was frequently unhappy with the scripts, he continued in his role. Reed had been married and had a daughter, but felt it necessary to be in the closet to his family and audience for the majority of his career. Internet sources indicate that Reed died on May 12, 1992, at his home in South Pasadena, California, after a six month battle with colon cancer and lymphoma and was previously HIV positive. The acting community and his Brady Bunch family was a supportive surrogate family.
Y-Kenji Yoshino is a legal scholar and the Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law at New York University School of Law. Formerly, he was a Professor of Law at Yale Law School. His work involves Constitutional law, anti-discrimination law, civil and human rights, as well as law and literature, and Japanese law and society.. Major areas of interest include social dynamics, conformity and assimilation, as well as queer (LGBT) and personal liberty issues. He has been a co-plaintiff in cases related to his specialties. A Japanese American, and openly gay man, Yoshino also writes poetry for personal enjoyment.
As of April 2011, the California State Senate approved landmark legislation to include gay history as required teaching in public schools. This bill is awaiting approval from the Democratically controlled Assembly and Governor Jerry Brown.
As reported in an AP article for the San Diego Union Tribune, the language further requires that the California Board of Education to adopt textbooks and teaching materials on the contribution and roles of sexual minorities by the 2013-2014 school year.
The proposed legislation would also prohibit “the adoption of any materials that reflect adversely on the gay community or particular religions.” (Lady Justice asks how religion gets placed in this context. The gay community practices all types of religions. Is this an garbage pail attempt to include everything we can think of in one bill? And how does one balance teaching about homosexuality and religions which may prohibit gay rights?)
Detractors state that they are already overburdened with mandates, teacher layoffs and teaching for mastery tests.
Bill sponsor, San Francisco’s openly gay Democratic Senator, Mark Leno states, “We are conspicuous in our absence…. Should we delete the inclusion of all the groups that are currently in the statute? Why is that okay and not LGBT? That is discriminatory.”
Earlier, groups who successfully lobbied to ban gay marriage in California also dislike children’s books portraying alternate types of relationships such as “Tango Makes Three,” a picture book about two male penguins raising an orphan penguin. This book again topped the American Library Association’s ‘most challenged books.” ( Ladjustice – Oh please… the underlying concepts of compassion, creating a safe and loving family for those who are neglected is the message here…)
The scariest part in the opinion of this blogger is that the bill leaves the hard work of deciding what material to include to what grades and ages…. to individual school districts.
Therefore, no consistency, and perhaps a cursory treatment with little thought, “just to cover them” is a real risk in the opinion of this blogger. To this point, Republican Senator Doug La Malfa asks, “Are we supposed to remove Winston Churchill from the curriculum to get this type of curriculum in?”
California currently mandates schools to teach history regarding the following ethnic, cultural and minority groups: Women, Mexican-Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, European Americans, Entrepreneurs, Labor and Native American Indians. (‘Kudos to California for their inclusivity!)
When all is said and done…. It comes down to what principals and teachers deem important enough to teach in the classroom and how much time they have….
The events at the Stonewall Inn in 1969 are considered a defining “Rosa Parks” moment in gay history. To lean more, please view the following brand new PBS documentary film:
“An American Experience” will be premiering the documentary film, Stonewall Uprising in April 2011. Award-winning filmmakers Kate Davis and David Heilbroner tell the story of the impromptu battle between bar patrons and police on June 28, 1969 following yet another raid of the Mafia-owned Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in New York’s Greenwich Village. Most LGBT historians as the pivotal moments described by the Village Voice—in the history of gay liberation..
And… One More Thing…. For an interesting account of Gay History portrayed in a timeline, go to:
It was a unique vacation many years ago – in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s. This was a much anticipated trip by bus throughout selected areas of California, including the infamous Alcatraz Island that held a special significance for this blogger. Career criminal Perry Lee Herring was behind bars for the murder of my father and another perpetrator, an accomplice in a bank robbery. I imagined that the harsh conditions of Alcatraz might be the same as what Herring was experiencing in Connecticut. (Naught!)
This was also a special trip as it was an adventure of sorts – staying at a quaint gay owned hotel at the foot of Chinatown… and the opportunity to explore San Francisco and the California wine country… to connect with “my people of orientation,” if I could find them.
As for “my people,” I found but one smokey, not so nice women’s bar. Even the Women’s Center in the Castro appeared to be underground… but that’s a chapter for another time. Disillusionment…. This was a man’s town it seemed.
Anyway, some of the details of that trip are fuzzy after all of the intervening years. However, this fact stands out while on my way to tour Alcatraz Island, I KID YOU NOT…. I WAS ROBBED (i.e. my cash was stolen) while on Alcatraz! How could it be? Where were the cops? Where was Burt Lancaster (the Birdman) when I needed them?
I was at the snack bar prior to the tour to buy a drink on this swelteringly hot day. I laid my change purse with $50.00 cash on the counter for what seemed like just a few seconds. (The rest was located elsewhere in traveler’s checks). As I was organizing myself, I took my eyes off the counter and …. GONE!
I immediately reported it and the Ferry police (with their big hats similar to mounted police). They radioed to the mainland and conducted their search/investigation, interviewing people, filling out documents etc.
I suspected the counter person as a likely suspect or another tourist who made off with my cash and quickly headed back to the ferry. Results…. NADA! What a way to begin a vacation!!! But, I, ladyjustice, was not deterred. Having gotten the “bad luck” out of the way, I was now on my way to a fascinating adventure to re-live how crime was dealt with going back to the days of the Civil War in the 1880’s until Alcatraz’s closing in 1963.
One of the many times in which Alcatraz received national attention included when it was temporarily occupied as part of a Native American Civil Rights Movement that spanned from 1969 to 1971 when Federal agents “removed them” in 1971.
Personally, I would love to see my father’s killer “dropped off” without any life necessities to live out the rest of his miserable life as a lone survivor (as in the TV show). Next, I would “drop off all of the sexual predators that could possibly fit on the island. SAYONARA, BABY!
Back to “The Rock”….
When one tours Alcatraz as a typical tourist, you are given a headset and walkman recorder (perhaps they are digital now) and the story is recounted as you walk the various cell blocks, mess hall etc. and provided with a series of frequently asked questions and answers.
As I toured, I was struck by the absolute desolation and degradation of everyday life. Today’s prisons, in comparison are country clubs by any measurable standard, no doubt about it! (Bloggers, I refer you to my previous blog called Prison Programming, Is it a Panacea?) What a dramatic contrast!!
According to the website www.alcatrazhistory.com, the daily routine at Alcatraz was vey mundane – nothing interesting unless you think prisoners waiting several times a day for guards to count and verify people and pieces of silverware…
True interest as a tourist attraction lies in Alcatraz’s age, history of the prison itself, the site of the oldest operating lighthouse on the West Coast and other features such as seabird colonies and remnants of early military fortifications.
As per http://www.islandsinfo.com and the previous source, here are some
“FUN FACTS” about Life on Alcatraz
1) 12 Acre Island maintained by the National Park service;
2) Began as a Military Reservation in 1850 and was transformed into a Federal Penitentiary in 1934;
3) Famous Movies Filmed on Alcatraz include: “Murder in the First”-1995; “The Rock”-1996; “Star Wars-The Emperor Strikes Back”-1980 and “Escape from Alcatraz”- 1979;
4) Average length of stay at “Hotel Alcatraz” – 8 years
*** Tourist average length of stay (Unless you are robbed) 2-3 hours;
5) Highest capacity of prisoners- 302;
6) Typical Cell Accommodations – 336 cells in total; 5 feet X 9 feet;
Small sink, toilet and a cot;
7) Most Common Complaints by Inmates:
“Rule of Silence” (i.e. speaking allowed only during meals and recreation – abolished in 1930);
Constant cold temperatures
8) Number of Inmate Deaths on the Rock-
15- Natural Illness
(This blogger wonders….. Do those parents who inflict domestic violence in California tell their children… “You had better be good, or we’ll put you on Alcatraz???” I sure hope not…)
9) Escape Attempts-
36 men attempted involved in 14 separate incidents;
23 were caught;
6 were shot and killed;
No, sorry, make that 37 attempted escapes including Donna Gore… Whew!
An Historical Time Line
(Written by the Ghost of Joe Friday and Ladyjustice)
Who: Born: Harvey Bernard Milk
What: Son of Lithuanian, Jewish immigrants
Where: Woodmere, New York
When: May 22, 1930
Why: Because…. “They birthed babies back then”
Who: Born: Daniel James White
What: Son of Irish American Parents
Where: Los Angeles County
When: September 2, 1946
Why: Because… “They birthed babies back then”
Who: Harvey as Teacher and Naval Officer
What: Chief Petty Officer
Where: Submarine Rescue Ship, Junior Lieutenant
When: Korean War (1950-1953)
Why: Because…. “He joined up”
Who: Dan as Student & Valedictorian
What: Attended two high schools, Expelled from Riordian High
Where: San Francisco, California
When: Army Career 1965-1972
Why: Why not???
Who: Harvey as closeted gay man
What: Ex-teacher, Became Investment, Financial Advisor &
Where: Bache & Company, New York;
Why: Talent for Finance; Partner was a theater director
Who: Dan as Public Safety Officer & “Boy Wonder”
Saved mother & baby from 7th Floor Apartment; Reported
Cop for beating a suspect; Quit police force;
What: Police Officer, Firefighter, Security Guard;
Where: Anchorage, Alaska; San Francisco, CA
Why: “Trying to find his niche”
Who: Harvey as Hippie, Non-Conformist
What: Burned his Bank of America Card; Fired from Job;
Opened a Camera Shop in Castro section, San Francisco
Where: New York & San Francisco
When: After invasion of Cambodia ~ 1970-1973
Why: Political, Business views were changing
Who: Harvey as Budding Politician, Activist
What: “The Mayor of Castro Street”; Newspaper Columnist;
Several Attempts at Municipal Office: State Assembly &
Board of Supervisors (City Council);
*** Made History as the First Openly Gay Elected Official
Where: The Castro, San Francisco, CA
When: 1973, 1975; 1977
Why: Building Momentum for Gay Rights & Other Minorities;
Who: Dan: As Family Man
What: “The Blank Period;” Married Mary Ann Burns
Nothing else notable …
Where: San Francisco, CA
Why: Everybody Needs Somebody….
Who: Harvey as City Supervisor
What: Legislator of Gay Rights- Anti-discrimination in
Housing, Employment, Teaching and Increasing the
GLBT Police Force
Where: San Francisco City Hall
When: 1977 to November 27, 1978
Why: He was a leader with a vision for change and equal
rights for all… He was a representative of the people.
Who: Dan as elected official on the Board of Supervisors
What: SF Police Union, Board of Realtors supported Dan’s
Election, financed it and shared his perception of the City was “soft on crime,” shared his conservative views on religion, civil rights, prostitution intolerance of homosexuality
Where: Southeastern District of San Francisco: District 8,
“the Working Class District”
Why: They needed someone to represent “the other side.”
Dan nicknamed the epitome of “white bread”
Who/What: “The Juice,” Anita Bryant: Born-again singer campaigns to overturn an anti-discrimination law protecting gay men and lesbians in Dade County, Fla. Inspired by her victory, Bryant founds the first national anti-gay group, Save Our Children, drawing unprecedented attention to gay issues and motivating gay groups to organize in response.
Who/What: James Dobson, author of 1969 pro-spanking book Dare To Discipline, founds Focus on the Family in Arcadia, Calif. Focus will move to Colorado Springs, Colo., in 1991, become America’s wealthiest fundamentalist ministry, and spearhead the campaign against gay marriage.
Where: Dade County Fl; Colorado Springs CO; Arcadia, California and later in San Francisco…
When: 1977 (The Thirty Years War- A timeline of the anti-gay movement) Southern Poverty Lew Center
Why: “Because they could…..”
Who: Harvey as revered activist and frequent sparing partner
With other Board Supervisors
What: *** Achieved National Recognition in defeating Senate
proposal Proposition 6 of California to fire gay teachers
or their supporters
Where: San Francisco City Hall
When: Early 1978
Why: His star was rising….
Who: “Dan the Man” who quit and then changed his mind-
“Too Late…. “
What: “Too Little Salary” ($9,600/year- part-time) Couldn’t
support his family… couldn’t deal with the changing
ethics… Recipe for mass murder….
Where: Mayor George Mascone’s office
When: Late 1978
Why: Chief of Police, Board of Realtors, Supervisor, Diane
Feinstein convinces Dan to withdraw his resignation
and appeal to Mayor Mascone for the return to his job
WHY, WHY, WHY??? REVERSAL OF DECISIONS =
Dan reversed his decision to resign as a consequence of offers for financial help and political influence
Mayor George Mascone was “inclined to give Dan his job once again.” But, but, but… Harvey reminded George that of all the conservative proposals that had been defeated due to the 6 to 5 conservative majority. Harvey used his personal agenda to remind the Mayor that Dan “was the only actively gay staff person on the Board of Supervisors. As George was up for re-election the next year and dependent on the gay community for votes, Mayor Mascone made the fateful decision to deny Dan’s re-appointment. It turned out to be fatal….
Who: George Mascone: Former County Supervisor, State
Senator and Mayor of San Francisco
What: Origin: “Wrong side of the tracks” who did well in school
and became a champion of minorities including the elderly,
the working class, the poor, blacks and the GLBT community.
Attended Hastings Law School on a basketball scholarship…
and then was invited to enter the political arena.
Where: San Francisco, California
When Born: November 24, 1929; Died November 27, 1978
(‘Just 3 days after his 49th birthday)
Who: Dan as depressed, dejected, ex-City Supervisor,
“White bread” family man unable to support his brood
What: Dan entered an open basement window. (Thus avoiding
Metal detectors at the city Hall’s entrances)
He went to Mayor Mascone’s office first – shooting him in the
chest and then in the head as George lay dying on the floor…
Dan re-loaded, walked to the other end of the building,
Asked for a private meeting with Harvey whereby he shot
him twice in the brain
Dan walked out calmly, called his wife, met her at St. Mary’s
Cathedral and then turned himself in to police
Where: at the Northern Station.
Why: “I really lost it that day… I was on a mission.
I wanted four of them” (Confession to former Homicide
Detective Frank Falcon in 1984)
Who: Dan as Defendant
What: “Diminished Capacity due to Depression” Change in diet was
Evidence of his depression -
*** Forever known as: “THE TWINKIE DEFENSE”
Plea deal and conviction down to voluntary manslaughter
Seven years reduced to five with “good time”
Total Outrage by the GLBT Community
When: May 21, 1979 White Night Riots
What-Again: Suicide-carbon monoxide poisoning by Dan
in his car
When Again- October 21, 1985
Why: A very troubled man saw no reason to carry on
If only Harvey was alive today…
Post Script: CHANGE IN CALIFORNIA LAW: After the jury convicted White of voluntary manslaughter — the least serious charge for homicide. This caused uproar against the diminished capacity plea in California, and in 1982, voters overwhelmingly approved a proposition to eliminate the defense.
See: 1981 CAL. STAT. ch. 404, effective January 1, 1982. See: 1982 CAL. STAT. ch. 893, effective January 1, 1983.