On Greg, Bozeman, and Hugs

 

Last night, I had the honor of hearing D Gregory Smith tell his story — from childhood to Catholic priest to former priest/out gay man/counselor/so much more — to a gathering at St. James Episcopal Church as part of the church’s faith formation classes on sexuality and spirituality.

 

While I have been following Greg’s blog for a while, it wasn’t until I moved to Bozeman a couple of months ago that I met him in person. I knew bits and pieces of his story — the parts I had read on this blog — and I knew he was involved in LGBTQI causes here in Montana. But, you never know what a person is really like away from the keyboard.

 

I wasn’t disappointed.

 

I first met Greg in the AIDS Outreach office in downtown Bozeman. By the time I left half an hour later, I was not only a big fan of his, but he offered me a chance to contribute to this blog.  And, I got a hug.

 

The next time I ran into him, he was leading worship at Living Waters United Methodist Church in Belgrade. I left that morning after hearing a great message and with another hug.

 

Last week, I saw Greg at the first session of the faith formation classes, where we heard Bishop Brookhart talk about his research on the issue of sexual orientation and the Bible. Yep, got another hug.

 

Last night, though, I learned so much more about Greg. I learned he is relatable, humble, giving, empathetic, caring and open. He is a deep thinker whose incredible life experiences have shaped him into a person of substance. If you know Greg personally, I’m not telling you anything new. But if you follow this blog without having met him — the way I used to — know that he knows of what he writes.

 

I wasn’t expecting my first post on this blog to be along the lines of “An Ode to Greg,” but his story gave me a lot to think about after I left. Maybe it’s because we are the same age and have lived completely different and often complicated lives only to end up in the same place.

 

I hope to contribute more as I navigate my new “out” life here in this beautiful city. I am excited to be part of the Bozeman/Montana LGBTQI community and to live in a city that is (mostly) accepting.

 

Mostly, I’m excited that I’m four for four on hugs.

 

 

 

Westboro Baptist Church in Bozeman- Counter Actions

WBC Poster

Click pic to go to Facebook event page….

 

Interchange Schedule!

With a lineup that’s sure to rock, Interchange brings human dignity center stage to Bozeman, Montana. Here’s the fantastic schedule:

Interchange_FB_event

Wednesday, June 26th:

  • Women’s Voices for The Earth Presents “Unacceptable Levels”- Emerson Cultural Center 7:30pm, free

Thursday, June 27th:

  • Interchange Pre-Party 10pm-1am, BAR IX

Friday, June 28th:

  • Interchange Summit 5pm
  • Cocktails and Jazz (Leigh Lounge, MSU) 6:30-8pm
  • Electra Sexton’s Summer Meltdown! (MSU Ballroom) 8-10pm
  • Zebra Afterparty with the B-Side Players- $6 at the door
  • Konfadense at Plonk! -free entry

Saturday, June 29th

  • Interchange Parade (Main Street) 11am-Noon
  • Rally and festival at the Bozeman Public Library 12:15pm
  • “Racism & Human Trafficking” Library Community Room, 1:15pm
  • “Scripture & Science & Sex- Oh, My!”, Library Community Room 2:45pm
  • Interchange Festival- featuring Chiddy Bang and SOL, Lindley Park 5-10pm
  • Official After-Party featuring Ana Sia & Anavox, Zebra $12 at the door
  • Ampathy at Plonk!- free entry

Sunday June 30th

  • Kiki Garden Party- Soroptomist Park (catered by the Nova Cafe!) 9:30-11am

HIV testing will also be available throughout the weekend, provided by AIDS Outreach and Yellowstone AIDS Project. For more info, just click the Interchange logo above…. It’s gonna be awesome!

Montana-based nonprofit to host film + discussion June 26 at the Emerson

By Caitlin Copple

From nearby mine tailings to the products we use every day on our skin, Montanans are part of an uncontrolled chemical experiment on our bodies.  An award-winning documentary film is partnering with a national nonprofit to bring the story of the chemical burden all people carry to Bozeman.

“Unacceptable Levels” will show at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 26, at the Emerson Theater, located at 111 S. Grand in Bozeman. This event is free and will include a post-film panel discussion. Panelists include Erin Switalski of Women’s Voices for the Earth, Richard Eidlin of the American Sustainable Business Council, and two special guests from the Bozeman area. The idea from the film came from Brown’s experience with his wife as they struggled to become parents.

“I was drinking a glass of water one night at a restaurant where I was working,” Brown said. “There was one thing about it I noticed right away. We’re supposed to drink eight glasses of water a day, but this thing smelled and tasted like a swimming pool. I thought, ‘How could this possibly be okay?’ Then I read that there are ‘acceptable levels’ of chlorine and other contaminants in water. I forgot about it until my wife had her second miscarriage, and that’s when my mind went back to that glass of water. I started thinking, what could conceivably be in that?”

According to Women’s Voices for the Earth, the national organization hosting the event, the average person carries some 200 chemicals in his or her body on any given day. Those chemicals can include hormone disruptors, allergens, and cancer-causing chemicals – and we’re exposed to them from some surprising sources. Women and small children are disproportionately affected by toxic chemical exposure, explains Erin Switalski, executive director of Women’s Voices for the Earth. Switalski will be sharing ways people can avoid these scary chemicals, as well as become involved in convincing the government and corporate conglomerates to eliminate them in household products.

“Unacceptable Levels” examines the results of the chemical revolution of the 1940s through the eyes a father seeking to understand the world in which he and his wife are raising their children. Through interviews with the top minds in the fields of science, advocacy, and law, Brown presents us with the story of how the chemical revolution brought us to where we are, and of where, if we’re not vigilant, it may take us. Learn more at www.unacceptablelevels.com.

Women’s Voices for the Earth is a national organization that works to eliminate toxic chemicals that harm women’s health by changing consumer behaviors, corporate practices and government policies. To learn more, visit www.womensvoices.org.

 

Bozeman Area Community Foundation Searching For A Director

This map shows the incorporated and unincorpor...

 

A chance to do some good in the Bozeman Area:

 

A job description for the Foundation Manager is below. Those interested to apply should submit a cover letter, resume and three references to info@bozemanfoundation.org. Electronic submissions only. The Foundation will begin reviewing applications June 15th, and the position will remain open until filled.

 

Click here for more info: BACF_FdtnMgr_Position_FINAL

 

 

TransMSU Promotes Inclusion in Bozeman and Montana State University

Cassidy Medicine Horse is a Pride Foundation supporter and founder of TransMSU, a new group at Montana State University in Bozeman. **Photo courtesy of the Bozeman Chronicle

Cassidy Medicine Horse is a Pride Foundation supporter and founder of TransMSU, a new group at Montana State University in Bozeman.
**Photo courtesy of the Bozeman Chronicle

By Caitlin Copple

Being trans can be a challenge anywhere, but it’s especially tough in Montana, as there are no statewide nondiscrimination protections for gender identity, including at Montana State University. A coalition of student organizations is working to change this, including TransMSU (TMSU) a support group for transgender MSU students.

Founded by graduate student Cassidy Medicine Horse, the group came into being after Medicine Horse was invited to talk about barriers to the community to the MSU student senate.

Despite Bozeman’s reputation for being a fairly liberal college town, Cassidy explains that prejudices exist when it comes to bathrooms, showers, dorms, and health care providers. Even though the school is receptive to hormone therapy coverage, it’s common for insurance carriers to exclude it from their prescription formulary. Cassidy adds that, to her knowledge, there are only three therapists and as many doctors in the Bozeman area who treat trans individuals.

Navigating these barriers while also going through a major life and identity transition was extremely difficult for Medicine Horse, and she started TransMSU to ensure other transitioning would have a built-in support network.

“Transitioning can be, at the very least, a lonely time,” she says. “Sometimes it can be filled with self-recrimination, self-loathing, anger, and great loss of family and friends.”

Beyond support, Medicine Horse hopes the group will provide a place for trans advocacy and increased visibility of the community, as they have with the efforts to add gender identity and expression to the Montana University System bylaws.

“What I am truly hoping for is that trans as a paradigm of the ‘other’ will cease to exist,” she says. “Sometimes I joke, half-heartedly, that I don’t want people just to come out of the closet. I want them to burn the closet down. The fact that a person is transgendered or transsexual should be about as interesting as whether you had mustard on your last sandwich. To be transgendered is not about sex. It is not about being homosexual or straight. It is about identity.”

Until then, she and TransMSU are partnering with the Montana Human Rights Network, a longtime Pride Foundation grantee, to work for equal protections for all Bozeman residents.

“Cassidy’s work to establish TMSU is essential to helping fill a gap as LGBTQ policy work moves forward in Bozeman,” said Jamee Greer, LGBT organizer for the Montana Human Rights Network. “It shows trans Bozemanites that they belong here, and also helps educate cisgender* folks around why trans inclusion matters.”

“Bozeman is a great little town with great folks,” adds Medicine Horse. “It’s time that we stand next to Missoula and Helena and give an additional voice to the concept of equality.”

When asked how people can be better allies to trans people, she shared:

  1. Learn the correct use of pronouns. If you don’t know, ask respectfully about pronoun preference.
  2. Don’t out us, and don’t use “bio” or “real” when referring to trans folks. If you need to designate, use “cis” or, better yet, how about referring to us just as a “person.”
  3. Do not ask me what my “real” name is or whether I have had had the surgery. It is, frankly, no one else’s business.
  4. Don’t automatically identify trans people as homosexual. Again, it’s not your concern and has nothing to do with being transgendered. Recognize that not all people fit into a nice little binary world of gender identification.
  5. Speak out when you hear pejorative remarks about trans people.

Currently, TMSU has 23 members, and the group welcomes trans, MtF, FtM, intersex, questioning, students, faculty, local residents, spouses, and supporters. The group meets weekly on Monday nights on the MSU campus from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.

*A cisgender person is someone who identifies as the gender/sex they were assigned at birth.  The colloquial use of cisgender suggests that it is the opposite of transgender.

Caitlin Copple is Pride Foundation’s Regional Development Organizer in Montana.

Bozeman Men’s Group Begins March 21st

support-group-by-KLatham
Bozeman Gay/Bi Men’s Group
 
This group begins March 21, 2013
Thursday evenings, 6:30-8 pm, in Bozeman, MT
Registration Closes March 15th!
 
Laura Bailey, MS, LCPC, and
D Gregory Smith, MA, LMHC, LCPC
Facilitators
 
This 8-week group will explore
Dating ~ Relationships ~Sex~ Being Out ~ Mental Health
Community ~ Substance Use ~ Being Healthy
Whatever You Need To Talk About!
~FREE, SAFE AND CONFIDENTIAL~
 
Space is limited.
 
If you would like to participate,
please contact Laura Bailey 
406-539-8890
Feedback from past participants:

“This group changed everything for me- thank you!”
“I didn’t know that I needed support until I started attending this group- and now I have the skills to live a better life.”
“I learned more about myself in 8 weeks than I have in 25 years.”
“It’s so amazing that the State of Montana provides this opportunity for us.”
“I wish it didn’t have to end- I really look forward to this every week.”