Our annual tradition of filming the Fresno Pride Parade continues, feel free to watch the entire parade, in 1080p HD video, below:
Our annual tradition of filming the Fresno Pride Parade continues, feel free to watch the entire parade, in 1080p HD video, below:
Every year at about this time, our community enjoys the excitement and fellowship of Pride. Pride celebrations across the country continue throughout the summer. The collective attitude and acceptance raise spirits, and raise awareness of our community’s strengths and, well, our fabulosity.
But do you ever wonder: How can we keep it going?
I do. And that question usually translates to year-round support for our community’s continued progress. Supporting one another. Fighting off ridiculous attacks on our civil rights, often disguised as the “religious liberty” of others.
If you could harness the positive energy generated during Pride festivals, and push it toward one or two goals, it’d move mountains. The hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours required to stage these Pride festivals can be leveraged to achieve much.
How to channel that energy? I’ll settle for this: Vote.
Vote for Bernie. Vote for Hillary. I can’t type or even purse my lips to form the words “Vote for Trump,” but if you’re so inclined, knock yourself out.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines stigma as “a set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society or group of people have about something; archaic: a scar left by a hot iron: brand – a mark of shame or discredit: stain: an identifying mark or characteristic; a specific diagnostic sign of a disease.”
In the early years of HIV, stigma was the driving force that influenced most everything connected to HIV/AIDS. Even as death loomed over almost everyone infected, stigma may have been the biggest barrier to research toward a cure, effective and relevant prevention methods, testing and even medical care.
Why so much stigma around HIV?
There are several causes. The obvious is that HIV is linked to sex and drugs. Since the primary means of transmission is through sexual activity and injection drug use, HIV became a taboo subject. Coupled with the fact the first cases were diagnosed in gay men, stigma became synonymous with HIV.
But one of the most stigmatizing factors probably began with President Reagan and his refusal to address the issue until he was forced. The first cases of HIV in the United States were identified in 1981, but Reagan refused to acknowledge its existence until 1987. That fact infuriates many of us to this day.
The response would most certainly have been different had HIV manifested itself in affluent white women. So, how has stigma impacted HIV? As the poet said, “let me count the ways.”
Today, HIV testing is easy to access and, in many places, free. So, why aren’t more people tested? One of the major reasons is stigma.
Just the idea of seeking a test can be frightening. What if someone sees me? Is the tester going to judge me? What if I test positive? Am I going to be rejected by friends and family? What if my employer finds out? All of these questions, all of these fears, relate back to the stigma of HIV. Remember the words used in the definition? Stain, shame, a specific diagnostic sign of a disease.
Seeking and staying in care is extremely important for persons living with HIV. While care is very expensive, Indiana has actually done an excellent job making sure that most folks have comprehensive insurance. In addition, there are programs such as the Ryan White Care Act, which funds HIV-related care and services. We know when individuals are in care, they are healthier, live longer and reduce the chances of transmitting the virus to their partners.
Sadly, even care is influenced by stigma. Some clients are afraid to be seen seeking care at a clinic or doctor’s office associated with HIV. They stay away from care coordination for the same reasons. What if someone sees them entering the Damien Center or Step-Up?
Imagine having access to great care and services that could save your life, but the fear of being judged and stigmatized overpowers the desire to be healthy. It is not uncommon for clients to experience depression, have thoughts of suicide, abuse drugs and/or alcohol because of the burden placed on them by stigma.
And then there’s research. More than 30 years from the discovery of HIV and there is still no cure. Certainly millions of dollars have been spent on research over the years, but one has to wonder if the stigma of HIV has influenced dollars allocated to finding a cure. It took six years for the President of the United States to say “AIDS,” so it’s safe to say, we got a later than necessary start.
The discovery of new and much more effective medications has been quite successful. What was once a death sentence is now a manageable disease. So, we celebrate the successes while recognizing more could have been done had it not been for stigma.
Because of how HIV is transmitted, there are often moral judgments made about the folks who are living with HIV. They are often blamed for being sick, are the subjects of gossip, fear and even victims of violence.
While this was more prevalent in the early years of the epidemic, I am sorry to say stigma remains a serious issue. Seldom are people ridiculed or judged because they have cancer or heart disease or most any other disorder. They are not shunned or disowned or fired from their jobs or evicted from their homes. They aren’t afraid to seek care because someone might see them enter a particular clinic.
From the moment scientists identified HIV, responses of fear, denial, stigma and discrimination have accompanied the epidemic. Discrimination has spread rapidly, fueling anxiety and prejudice against the groups most affected. It has been said “HIV is as much about social phenomena as it is about biological and medical concerns.” Which is why stigma, that mark of shame, is so prevalent in HIV. Often HIV is seen as a moral failure rather than a medical issue.
Stigma is real and it is dangerous. It’s the scar that reminds us we are different. It can result in isolation, self-loathing and a steady decline in both mental and physical health.
In 2016, it is ridiculous it is still a problem. When I talk to young kids about HIV, one of the first things I tell them is “we don’t stop loving people because they are sick.” Even an eight-year old child gets that. Why, as adults, are we still branding people living with HIV? It’s time to stop!
Paula French is a co-founder of Step-Up Inc., an organization with the stated mission “to promote health and well-being among underserved and hard to reach populations,” especially in prevention and awareness of HIV/AIDS.
If you ever wonder what America is thinking, I’ve found a great barometer of political pinion: laundromats.
Our dryer broke recently, so there have been multiple weekly trips to the neighborhood laundry until it can get fixed. And while waiting, usually on Sunday, usually while reading the Sunday New York Times, there have been multiple opportunities to observe and survey random voters(?) – strike “voters,” insert: “citizens.”
The first real treat came in late January when a scruffy-looking 40ish fellow drove up in a beat-up van, bumper stickers galore (I’ll spare you – let’s just say he won’t give up his guns unless I pry his cold dead fingers from them. And that Obama already came to take them).
He unloaded three bags of laundry, parked his van, and started to put the items into a washer. Out of the first bag cam not one, but six – that’s right, six – Confederate flags. I’m not sure of Confederate flag laundry protocol. I’m not even sure there is a Confederate flag laundry protocol.
Never fear, gentle readers; confrontation was avoided. Another laundry patron made small talk, which I obviously overheard. You might call it “eavesdropping.”
It seems the Confederate ex-pat believes we’re awash in “colored folks tellin’ us all what to do, which is not what George and Mary Washington wanted.” And: “Obama is hanging around Washington after the election to re-start the Trilateral Commission” and to make sure “that bitch, Hillary, appoints his wife to the Supreme Court.”
OK, so all the above was the click-bait to get readers this far, but it really did happen that way. I also talked to several laundry patrons who had strong views on current affairs.
From an Hispanic mother of four: “I’d vote if I could, and I’d vote for Hillary or Bernie, but I’m not registered.” Because she’s, well, ineligible to vote. She added: “We came here in 2004 because we needed jobs. My husband and me, we have had four children here. My husband has gotten several green cards, but not any more.”
She spoke while folding sheets and towels, oblivious to any potential danger in admitting her immigration status.
“We’re here for our kids,” she said, adding, “Donald Trump has a lot to learn about world politics.”
She later said to the laundry attendant, Merle: “The new guy, he’s OK, right?”
The next week, the Confederate guy came back, but without flags.
Also there: A lady who was intrigued by my “Pence Must Go” T-shirt. I saw her eyeing me for about a half-hour. When it came time for her to load her dryer, she took the one next to my clothes.
“I want one of those,” she said, as she pointed to the T-shirt. “He’s a complete douche, isn’t he?” She also had multiple other current events opinions, which she shared without being asked:
“I usually vote for at least one Republican. I wonder who it will be this year.”
“You know, my sister is a lesbian. I wasn’t for marriage equality until it came to her.”
“I’m not sure if I’m registered (to vote). How do I find out?” I explained it to her, and she recounted she couldn’t remember when she’d last voted.
“Can I register online?” We started that process on her phone. “But it wants my address. I’m kinda in-between now.”
Two weeks later, Merle the attendant asked me how long I’d been gay. I asked him how he knew.
“Your HRC T-shirts.” I replied: “For quite awhile.” Said he: “So why is it important to have RFGRA rights?” Whereupon a long discussion ensued about religious freedom. And he said, “Are you sure you’re right about that? Because I thought pastors would be forced to marry you.”
“Mind if I ask how you usually vote?” I said to Merle.
“Oh hell I never vote,” he shot back. “They’re all crooks.”
And so it goes.
I have been watching Donald Trump’s campaign with a sort of morbid curiosity for the last few months.
It feels almost surreal to me that the reality TV star could actually end up winning the White House, but he is certainly closer than any other Republican running for the Oval Office.
Recently I became aware of a visit by the Trump campaign, and took a chance and applied for media credentials to attend the Trump Rally. I really didn’t think that I would be able to get approved, but I thought, “What the heck” – I will give it a shot.
After a short while I received a nice email from a representative for Trumps campaign saying that I and my political editor for The Word, Rick Sutton, were approved to attend the rally as Media.
On the day of the rally, as we made our way through light security toward the media entrance, I noticed that there were very few protesters on the street and out in front of the venue. We made our way into the hall and were greeted by security. I found it fascinating that one of the security people was a more butch, but very pleasant, lesbian who directed us to the media staging area.
As Rick and I wandered through the throngs of media people setting up staging areas and equipment, I looked over the crowd and tried to see if I could identify any potential danger zones. That morning I posted online that I was going to attend, and received a plethora of messages from friends and business associates encouraging me to be vigilant and careful due to the reported escalating violence at Trump rallies across the country.
As I positioned myself for the best vantage point to hear Trump speak, I became aware of several people and small groups of people who clearly looked like they didn’t belong there. They fidgeted and looked around as if waiting for something, and I looked where they were looking to see if I could see some sort of pattern or indication of what was yet to come.
As Rick and I waited we chatted with a few of the other journalists and compared our analysis of the size and makeup of the crowd gathered to hear their candidate speak. We wondered whether or not the artists whose songs were being played would have approved of their work being used to energize a crowd that were blatantly against some of the musicians’ basic civil rights.
Nothing is more exciting than cleaning out your basement, right? So many boxes full of things that make you say: “why the hell did I even buy this?” Clothes that are too small, Jackie Collins novels that once held your interest, and tattered stuffed animals worn smooth from childish affection.
It was during such a journey down memory lane that I dropped a shoebox, and from its interior, my entire love life spilled out.
Snapshots from years past stared up at me from the floor – smiling faces trapped in Kodak amber, frozen in time inside the antiquated art of actual pictures on photographic paper. As I picked them up one by one, I could feel the times and the places blooming in my head, the men and boys that seemed so important to me at one time, now merely reduced to tiny squares of still life history.
Looking at the remnants of the past made me realize that most of these guys were merely crushes and infatuations, not the paragons of romantic love that I thought they were. And looking at myself in these pictures, I realized that at certain times in my life I had compromised who I really was in order to hold on to someone I imagined to be important.
It made me realize that many times in life we barter with our feelings because we are afraid to be alone. We take what we think we can get, because the fear of not being able to find someone makes us do the one thing we should never do: settle for something less than we deserve.
But why would we compromise something as treasured as our heart? In our professional lives, we never stand for being passed over for a raise or letting someone else take the credit for our work, so why make concessions in our love life?
Sometimes people say that our expectations can be too high, so we should settle for Mr. Good-Enough instead of Mr. Right. But why? Don’t you deserve to be happy with someone who makes you feel dizzy and sexy and full of light and laughter? Someone who makes you pant and growl like a wolf when you slide sweaty and naked together?
It’s one thing to want someone who can help you run the household and take care of the kids and the dogs and make sure there’s coffee in the cupboard when you need it, but you’re not running a business. Don’t get me wrong – it’s fantastic to find someone who’s responsible and mature enough to know that there’s more to a relationship than knocking your socks off in the bedroom. But even if they can cook and remodel and contribute to the actual shared wealth of your partnership, what’s the point of staying with someone if you don’t really, really love them?
When we were younger, we fell into relationships because they were new and exciting. But when they ended, sometimes self-doubt began to grow, causing us to settle for someone new because we thought that we couldn’t trust our judgment. Before long, we were stuck in a Moebius strip of settling for less and less each time we met someone.
On the flip side, there are the people who settle for someone not because they are attracted to them necessarily, but by what that person can give them: Financial security, status, even whether or not they would be a good parent to their children. All of these things are great qualities in a person, but without heat, a relationship turns ice cold.
Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to chat up a few men who are not involved directly in the Leather/Kink community.
Granted, the reasons for our interactions weren’t necessarily to talk. However, more and more, I’m finding that my quest for carnal satisfaction involves more than just the need for physical gratification. I find that sexual encounters are more satisfying and fruitful if there is some other type of connection involved in the dynamic. So, I make it a point to have some real life, face-to-face interaction.
I was describing to him my own perspective of our community and how my view of my place in the community influences my day-to-day interactions. After hearing my take on being of service and building connections and bridges, his response caught me off-guard. He told me that my approach was very spiritual and based on religious teachings. In my head, I kept thinking the two are totally unrelated, but I also had to recognize that the spiritual component of my sexuality is equally if not more important than the physical aspect.
A couple of weeks later, I read a piece by writer Patrick Mulcahey, who had interviewed members of ONYX, the group for Leather People of Color. Repeatedly, the members of the club described what they believed to be the club’s key to success. Each member interviewed saw their interaction with others in the community as a Ministry. There it was again – the use of spiritual principles in a community where sex and sexual activity are the focus. After some thought and mulling over, I realized or probably remembered that in many ways, the two – spirituality and sexuality – are very much intertwined.
Ministering to someone and being a Minister are very different. Ministering to someone is an activity, an action that addresses an expressed or obvious need.
Bootblacks are a powerful example of the activity of ministering. Not only do bootblacks provide for the care of boots, gear and those things we believe that define us as leather folks, bootblacks also tend to the need we all have to connect with another human being. For those brief moments, at least in my experience, sitting in the bootblacks chair not only restores my skins but it also restores my soul.
Taking the time to disconnect, having someone massage my feet, engage in conversation and releasing tension actually seem to energize me, because it brings me back to myself. I’ve seen kink class instructors who not only are able to provide technical expertise (being a Minister) but are also able to minister to the needs of their chosen scene participant through how they interact and with what they do during the aftercare component of the scene. Whether it be providing water, holding them, talking or just having skin-to-skin contact can and does make a difference in how both parties will experience and remember the scene.
Ministering is about addressing both a physical need and a soul need that will only take place when two people are connected. However, it is born of a desire to be of service, and that is independent of role identification.
Somehow, in our evolution as a community, we seem to be moving away from ministering to our community and becoming more about being Ministers. The drive to have a title, a position, a symbol of our importance (think Covers) has superseded the desire to be of service.
Being a minister is a position of power; ministering to others is an act of empowerment for everyone involved. The feeling of empowerment, at least for me, is pretty sexy. It doesn’t always lead to sex, but it does lead to satisfaction.
This isn't just a Fresno Pride event it regional and the only Pride event that in the Valley that includes a parade!
Up to 5,000 people will attend the parade, parade begins at 10 am and the route is east bound on Olive from Palm to Maroa.
The Festival is a street festival and is roughly at Fulton Street and Alhambra, the festival entrance is at Fulton and Olive.
Admission is only $5
We posted this to our Facebook page on March 29, 2016 after escrow had been opened to sell the bar.
"A little more than a year ago, Karl, one of the owners of The Phoenix, was crossing a street and was hit by a car. The impact broke his pelvis in multiple places and broke his collar bone. In the year that's passed since then, we've been working out which duties we can split up based on his new limitations.
"We were reaching a new balance in this when his previously-diagnosed congestive heart failure (resulting in several previous heart attacks) got suddenly worse in late February 2016.
"Running a bar is simultaneously surprisingly difficult and ridiculously easy; sometimes for exactly the same reasons. Health takes precedence over business so The Phoenix is closing for good on April 23, 2016.
"There are several events already planned in April and they will continue as scheduled. Emperor XL's beer bust on Saturday, April 2, the IDC Beer Bust on Friday, April 8, the Agents of O party on Saturday, April 16. (There may be an additional event added but stay tuned for that.)
"Join us for the next three and a half weeks. We'll be having some cool things to give away (Need--or just want--an extra "Beers for Bears" T-Shirt? If you already have one, come get another while the supply lasts. Misplaced an anniversary shot glass? Come get a replacement while we still have plenty. Or, come get one of the misprinted ones.) )
"This is not the failure some predicted; we're on track to have our 4th most profitable quarter ever by the end of this month; and mid-summer last year, we broke even on the investment to open a bar.
"It sounds cheezy (and it seems that every business that closes says something like this; but it makes more sense now) but thank you to everybody who helped make The Phoenix the success it has been. This is a great opportunity for Karl and Bryan to do the things they want to do together while they still can. (Yes. Really.)"
“In the age we live in, every flaw and misstep is recorded on film or video, then spilled like red ink over the Internet and discussed ad nauseam, until even the photographic evidence comes into question.
Whether it’s a grainy, night-vision sex tape, a DUI mug shot or a fashion blunder that results in exposing more than the proper amount of skin, the culture of celebrity has shown us that committing a public mistake or having a bad reputation makes for a compelling read and good television. Just because average people don’t have their infelicities splashed all over TMZ doesn’t mean that the rumors that breed a bad reputation won’t spread like wildfire. And just like the gossip and stories that crowd the pages of tabloids, some of these incidents are self-created.
The question is: How much of our reputation is truly who we are?
As our lives unfold, our personas reveal themselves. These are the aspects of our character that the public perceives as who we are. As a matter of fact, the word “persona” comes from the Latin word for mask, therefore indicating that what people see isn’t always what they get.
The bookish nerd. The dim gym rat. The hilarious drunk. The pretty-boy heartbreaker. These and other facades have a basis in who and what we truly are, but they are built by you to give you an identity so you can find your niche. No one wants to fade into the background, so we embellish, act out and decide who or what we want to be by the actions that we take.
So why do we create reputations that don’t reflect our true nature? Is it because our reputation is who we truly want to be? Or is it because it will mask who we really are? Is it armor to hide behind? Or is it a fictional magnet that we
feel will draw in the people we really want to be with?
A bad reputation may scare off the people you’re afraid of, but if someone is really interested in you, they will look past your reputation and uncover the real person inside. The same goes for someone who catches your eye; believing the hype surrounding someone that you like may prevent you from realizing their true nature. Why judge someone by the mistakes they’ve made? Would you want someone to judge you because of a story they heard on the street from an unreliable source?
Every year, it is our goal to bring a wide array of LGBTQ cinema and entertainment home to the Central Valley. We are pleased to announce our leadership for the upcoming year, including:
Board President & Festival Director
Co-Founder & Director of Reel Pride Endowment
Augie G. Blancas
Vice President & Director of Communications
Vice President & Director of Sponsorships
Director of Memberships
Director of Volunteers
Director of Programming
Fresno Reel Pride proudly presents its 27th Annual LGBTQ Film Festival September 21-25, 2016.
For more information, visit www.reelpride.com.
Join us for a Rainbow Event and Wedding Expo!
We will be offering event and wedding planning information and showcasing inclusive vendors to the LGBT community. There will be a human and dog fashion show, and the 40-50 vendors will offer services for people planning any type of event!