Adventure In Missoula


Yesterday, I headed over to Missoula to participate in the Men’s Group at the WMGLCC which is sponsored by the Montana Gay Men’s Task Force. I also had some estate sale stuff to drop off with Tim Gordon.

Everything was going great. I got the art dropped off, shared a Starbuck’s moment with Tim and Amy and went to get in my car to head to the meeting. The key went into the ignition- but wouldn’t turn. Not after 20 minutes of trying and being on the phone with my brother, the Ford expert. I finally called AAA and got a tow from a very nice Driver named Ben from Red’s Towing. At Bitterroot Motors, they were great. Couldn’t fix the car until the morning, but David Herrera swooped in, picked me up and took me to the group. We had a great evening- I presented on gay men and mental health issues, and the guys really participated.

Today, I got the call that the car was fixed while having coffee with my lovely friend Bernie, so off I go. I pay hundreds of dollars for the privilege to drive my car home and whew- another adventure behind me! And I stayed calm and stress-free the whole time….

Oh, and I didn’t have internet, so that’s why there wasn’t a post yesterday. BUT, I’m working on something I think you’ll really like.

Stay tuned.

Keep Going

For my buddies who may be discouraged by the seemingly uphill battle against ignorance, hate and violence:

“Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged (people) who kept on working.”
~Author Unknown

Keep going. You’re not alone.

Ravndal’s Back

You heard me.

KXLH News is reporting that:

Tim Ravndal, who headed the Big Sky Tea Party until he was ousted following a controversial message he posted on Facebook, has been tapped for a leadership post in the Lewis & Clark Conservative Tea Party organization in Helena.

In an e-mail, Ravndal said that the Lewis & Clark’s Conservative Tea Party is “organized and open for business,” and that the purpose of the group is to stop the “extremists’ outright attacks on our liberty, freedom, integrity and moral values here in Montana and across America.”

The group’s founder, Bobbette Madonna, said she is extremely pleased that Ravndal, the former president of the Big Sky Tea Party Association, has been elected as the group’s executive director.

Great- the man who wanted the “Wyoming instruction manual” on how to hang fruits is in charge of the Lewis & Clark Tea Party. The man who openly espoused the murder of other human beings is the executive director of a Montana political organization hiding behind the skirts of “conservatism”.

KXLH again:

After Ravndal’s comments got picked up by national blogs and local news outlets, he issued an apology on Facebook which has since drawn hundreds of responses: “In sharing news about ACLU suing Montana on the gay marriage issue, I made a mistake and commented on a post that implied that I condone violence against another human being. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Those that know me understand and that is all that matters.” (emphasis mine)

No, Mr Ravndal that is not all that matters. People who preach hate and murder against anyone perceived as different or “immoral” are a threat to the safety of all peace-loving people everywhere. This country was founded on the principle of equal protection under the law. The United States has enshrined life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all people in it’s code of law. The law of the United States of America, not the King James Version of the Bible (which is a deficient translation in itself, but I digress).

Your remarks and subsequent “apology” do nothing to appease me. It’s your actions that I find repulsive and dangerous. Actions which, according to photographic proof, are pretty difficult to deny or misconstrue. You meant those remarks. You played along. You contributed to fear, hate and mistrust in the hearts of Montanans and, sadly, other Americans. That casual conversation is much more a measure of your values than any political statement could ever be. That’s who you are.

That’s why I don’t trust you. That’s why you will be held accountable for your words and actions in the future. Too many innocent kids have taken or attempted to take their lives because of words like the ones you  and your friends used. Too many minority Americans (pick whichever minority you like) are afraid to live their lives openly for fear of violence or ugliness. That’s why I can’t believe an organization is “proud” to have you unless they have the same beliefs and values that you do- especially the notorious ones.

Sorry, but I have to stop now.

I feel sick.

Cross-published at

Eight False Things The Public “Knows” On Election Day

And while we’re on the topic of things to think about this election cycle, Dave Johnson puts forth a few of his own, including:

1) President Obama tripled the deficit.
Reality: Bush’s last budget had a $1.416 trillion deficit. Obama’s first budgetreduced that to $1.29 trillion.

2) President Obama raised taxes, which hurt the economy.
Reality: Obama cut taxes. 40% of the “stimulus” was wasted on tax cuts which only create debt, which is why it was so much less effective than it could have been.

3) President Obama bailed out the banks.
Reality: While many people conflate the “stimulus” with the bank bailouts, the bank bailouts were requested by President Bush and his Treasury Secretary, former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson. (Paulson also wanted the bailouts to be “non-reviewable by any court or any agency.”) The bailouts passed and began before the 2008 election of President Obama.


Read ’em all here.   (Thanks, Wulfgar)

Voting For HIV

I am a member of NAPWA, the National Association of People With AIDS/HIV.  As a member, I receive their monthly email newsletter, which has a lot of information regarding HIV, tips for self-care, advocacy and political activism. Frank Oldham, the President and CEO had a column this month that really put some things in perspective for me.

It’s been a pretty interesting election year. NAPWA, as a 501(c)(3) charitable corporation, is not permitted to support or oppose individual candidates or political parties, so we can’t name names – but we can share our general observation that some of this year’s candidates would be pretty grand entertainment if there weren’t a real chance they might get elected.

It’s also been one of the nastiest campaign seasons in recent memory, and a lot of us just want it to end and go away. Here are some reasons to get to the polls and vote anyway.

· Defend the Health Care Reform Act.

Imagine a world where insurance companies can’t ask about preexisting conditions and use our answers to deny us coverage or cover us differently! We’ll have to wait until 2014 for full implementation of that, but it’s in the new law, and candidates who will defend the law against attempts to repeal it outright or amend it out of existence deserve our support. So do incumbent candidates who knew they were risking their seats but voted for the bill anyway; they took a big risk for us.

· The next Congress will – or won’t – fund implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

The Obama Administration’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) seeks to reduce the number of new HIV infections, increase access to care and optimize health outcomes, and reduce HIV-related health disparities. All of which is very good news for people living with HIV. It doesn’t mean much, though, if Congressional funding priorities are being set by folks who think anyone who doesn’t look like them is not the “real America.” Simply by being HIV-positive, we don’t look like them. We don’t want a Congress full of elected representatives chanting, “We shouldn’t be spending money on NHAS, ‘they’ wouldn’t have HIV if ‘they’ hadn’t been doing bad things.”

· The next Congress will set the agenda for young people’s HIV-awareness and prevention education.

We’ve seen the lack of results from abstinence-only curricula. Even the current Congress is gradually moving from ideology-driven abstinence-only approaches to evidence-based, frank sex education, and it is saving the lives of our young people. We don’t want to go back.

· There are critical HIV funding needs right now.

State AIDS Drugs Assistance Programs (ADAPs) are in crisis because of the recession which started in 2008. Programs for HIV-positive people with multiple medical or life issues – homelessness, addiction, mental illness – are also finding funds harder and harder to come by. Find out where your candidates stand on HIV services, and vote for those who support funding for them.

The votes of people living with HIV/AIDS are needed now more than ever before! As the leader of NAPWA and an African-American gay man living with AIDS, I know that so much progress and the fruits of hard-fought battles for our health care, protecting Ryan White Care Act services, and our rights as American citizens are at risk right now!

So let’s be sure to know our candidates and choose well. Next issue (November 5), we’ll look at the election results. Win or lose, we’ll all feel better if we did our research and voted our values.

A Church Adrift

Peter Steinfels in a thought-provoking piece for Commonweal speaks about the hemorrhaging Catholic Church, the responsibility of the bishops and the reality of social understanding in the pews. He starts out with this:

“In February 2008, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, based on interviews with a representative sample of thirty-five thousand adult Americans, reported that one out of every three adult Americans who were raised Catholic have left the church. If these ex-Catholics were to form a single church, they would constitute the second largest church in the nation.” (emphasis mine)

Definitely worth a read- and don’t skip the comments! (Thanks Cheryl!)

An Excellent Summary

Jay Stevens offers a well-balanced view of Cowgirlgate over at Left In The West.

Thanks, Jay.

“We Used To Feel Like You”

“Don’t give up
Cause your life is like a book-
All you got to do is turn the page.
There are friends yet to meet,
There are songs to be sung
There are beautiful sunsets
And battles are won.
There’s love to be found if you just stick around
Don’t give up- your life has just begun.”


Buy it here.

White Sulphur Councilman Accused Of Racism

Homecoming never used to be such a problem when I was a kid- but then there were only white kids in my school.

The Great Falls Tribune reports:

Senior Kody Mondragon and the other 10 homecoming king and queen candidates planned to take the traditional ride in the back of convertibles during the Oct. 8 parade.

But Mondragon said when he tried to climb into the car owned and driven by Councilman Heith Stidham, Stidham refused repeatedly to let him in, saying he couldn’t let someone who looked like Obama ride with him. (emphasis mine)

WTF? Full story here.


Montana Cowgirl has had a bit of a shitstorm over a man-purse reference involving candidate Roy Brown.

I’ve had a lot of correspondence with Cowgirl over the past few months, and I think she gets it- she’s expressed a willingness to be educated AND expressed remorse at her regrettable comment. Cowgirl has never presented herself as anything other than an ally in the struggle for LGBT Montanan’s rights. She’s entitled to a little tongue-in-cheek humor as far as I’m concerned- and I’m not naive enough to believe that everybody or even anybody agrees with me.

Pseudonymous commentary is almost as old as writing itself. It has it’s place. She’s not doing her job the way I would do it, but there’s got to be room for her here. It takes all kinds doing their jobs (as they see them) the best they can- and I believe it’s my job to try first to educate rather than picking up the “Offended” stick and responding in outrage.

There are a lot of us out there, great people who are passionate about the same issues- activists, bloggers, reporters, letter writers, commenters, etc. We won’t always agree, but we all deserve to be heard and, conversely, to try and respectfully hear each other. that means taking responsibility for our words and actively working to educate each other about the power of some of those words.

It’s not a perfect system, but we can make it better by first calmly pointing out rather than screaming in outrage- unless of course, the calm pointing is continually or habitually ignored….

Then it’s on.