Thank You for Changing My Life

On this day in 1998 Matthew Shepard lost his life. I wrote how his death changed my life.

evoL =

by Ono Kono

FenceTwo decades ago, I was unaware of the struggle of LGBT people. Back then, I was a busy working Mom, juggling career and family. I cared about others, but I was asleep when it came to their plight. In 1998, my life was changed when a young man lost his life, after he was beaten and left to die. The resultant trial of accused murderers of Mathew Shepard was made into a circus by a church leader and his followers of the Westborough Baptist Church.

I thank you Phelps clan for opening my heart to love, in spite of your hatred for my LGBT brothers and sisters. I saw the cruelty in your eyes, echoed by the pain in others who watched you. I don’t know what brought you down your path to hatred. I can only say, I thank you for being so open about it…

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An Open Letter to Progressives Who Can’t Bring Themselves to Vote for Hillary


I campaigned for Ralph Nader in 2000. Even in such a close election as that, it is unlikely my efforts turned the tide, plus I lived in a firmly red state at the time. Still, here is what I have slowly come to terms with:

I was mistaken. I backed the wrong horse.

Gore would’ve been a disappointing, uninspiring president. I would have spent 4 to 8 years complaining about what a spineless sellout he was, and I would have been right.

However, he would have responded to 9/11 differently than George W. Bush. The war practices of Bush I, Clinton, and Obama prove this. Yes, Clinton and Obama engaged in war efforts, and that makes me sick, but they did not engage in “Shock and Awe” or “Bomb the Shit Out of Them.” There is an objective difference.

But, I got to enjoy my high horse of having voted my conscience, of having not engaged in the lesser of two evils game. I was PURE.

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis are now dead; their blood is on my pure hands.

Presidential elections are not about purity, they are about putting someone in who will appoint sane Supreme Court Justices. Who will at least admit that Climate Change exists and will respond to pressure on important issues.

Gay marriage is now the law of the land. That wouldn’t have happened under McCain or Romney.

Obama appointed a Green Energy Czar, and while Solyndra failed spectacularly, he put more energy towards renewables than any president in recent memory.

These things matter. We can take teeny tiny steps forward, or giant leaps backward.

I respect you in your knowledge and your dedication. Whoever wins, make sure that your activism stays strong in the next 4 years, that’s when it is most needed.

And yeah, I’ve probably just made you madder. I know, because I’ve been on your side of this conversation.

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Hey My Fellow White People! Stop talking about black-on-black crime


“But what about black-on-black crime?” is a common counter-argument to Black Lives Matter. This argument is simplistic and attempts to cherry-pick a fact. It ignores systemic poverty in the black community, the disproportionate impact of the Vietnam war, and the ongoing legacy of black lives NOT mattering in America.

Slavery is pretty obvious. Black lives were mere chattel; to be bought, sold, moved, beaten, raped, and killed with impunity by whites for about 400 years. When this finally ended, reparations were not made to the freed slaves and their descendants. In fact, while emancipated, these African Americans were codified as second-class citizens for the next one hundred years. Black lives did not matter.

Blacks born in the 1960s were the first in this country to experience full citizenship. Think about that. Plenty of living African Americans did not know the full protection of citizenship until their adulthood. Black lives did not matter.

Black men were grossly over-represented in the ranks of the US Military during the Vietnam War. They experienced racism at home, overseas, and at home again. They returned to communities still mired in poverty and were overly damaged by drug epidemics. Higher poverty leads to higher crime. Black lives did not matter.

Black children are punished more severely than white children for the same infractions, this is what is known as the school-to-prison pipeline. Black lives do not matter.

People with “black sounding” names must submit twice as many resumes to get a call back as “white sounding” names with similar qualifications. Black lives do not matter.

Black people convicted of crimes are punished more harshly than their white counterparts. Black people are more than twice as likely to be shot by police than white people. Black lives don’t matter.

The US has been telling black people that their lives don’t matter since before the US was a country, we shouldn’t be surprised if a community treated thusly has an internal violence problem. More importantly, we (white people) must understand that while black on black crime is terrible for the black community, police killings of blacks (wherein the officers nearly always walk) rubs salt in an old and festering wound; that is, in the eyes of the US Justice system, black lives don’t matter, and never have.

As a people, white people do not have the moral standing to criticize the black community. We have a moral and historical obligation to right the wrongs we and our forbears have perpetrated. This is not about feeling guilty, this is about owning the truth. If we start there, we have a chance to re-balance the scales.



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12 June: a vigil in Astoria

I reblogged this on evol=, to balance my bloody thoughts. Thank you for this beautiful blog tribute.

Tangly Cottage Gardening Journal

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Last night at 1 AM I checked the news as is my habit before bedtime, to learn that something horrific was unfolding at the Pulse dance club in Orlando, Florida.  This morning, I woke to news of 49 of my extended tribe killed and many injured.  All I could do in the afternoon was read the news and share the grieving of friends online and edit and post the photos of yesterday’s beautiful and joyous pride parade.  Back in my 20s and 30s, I frequented gay dance clubs every week. Every single time, my friends and I were well aware that to do so put us in danger from homophobic fanatics…as did just walking down the street together looking visibly gay.  We did not let that fear keep us home, and many of my best memories of those years came from the joy of dancing in community.

I read…

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Until Gun Laws Change, Make Them See


It took only one week past the last massacre
before the NRA stopped their silence.
Their big guns say
we must dismiss it
we mustn’t discuss it
after all,
it’s just another blood-spattered day.

I can’t shrug it off.
I won’t shrug it off.
I refuse to remain silent.

Every lawmaker must see the imagery
of our expressionless babies surrounded by oceans of blood.
Every lawmaker must have dreams
of wounded bodies shrieking with terror into the night.
Every lawmaker must look
into the open gaping wounds,
bones twisted,
and hearts exploded.
Lawmakers must be forced to look at their blood-stained hands
Until the dead invade their dreams,
with blood-soaked nightmares
echoing the shrieks of their victims every night.

Until they admit, they know what the NRA bought from them
Until they know the pain of the wounded lying in hospital beds,
Until they know they stole the lives of the living
Until they know they disposed of the bodies on a cold, morgue slab.
Until they know the sacrifice of the innocents came from their greed.

Until they look at all 31,000 images of death.
Until they realize the loss reverberates
in the hearts of hundreds of thousands more
Until they can feel the grief
of the mothers, and fathers,
the sisters, and brothers,
the sons, and daughters,
the husbands, and wives,
and all the friends,
until lawmakers can feel the pain of grief coming from the living.

Lawmakers are blind, we must make them see
lawmakers are deaf, we must make them hear.
until we are heard
until gun laws change,
until the blood ceases to pool
we must make lawmakers see the price paid for their greed.

Don’t let them forget
as they have in the past.
Let us rub their noses in it
each and every day.


Update 06/20/16 An amendment proposed by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) did not pass. Once again NRA’s money buys the vote.

Harry Reid (D-Nev.)  Voted “no” for a procedural move to preserve option to reintroduce the bill, which is a good move to help bring this back as a bill.

The Senators who voted against the bill. This is dedicated to you. Their blood is on your hands.


Max Baucus (D-Mont.)
Mark Begich (D-Alaska)
Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.)
Mark Pryor (D-Ark.)


Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.)
John Barrasso (R-Wyo.)
Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)
John Boozman (R-Ark.)
Richard Burr (R-N.C.)
Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.)
Dan Coats (R-Ind.)
Tom Coburn (R-Okla.)
Thad Cochran (R-Miss.)
Bob Corker (R-Tenn.)
John Cornyn (R-Texas)
Mike Crapo (R-Idaho)
Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.)
Deb Fischer (R-Neb.)
Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)
Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)
Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)
Dean Heller (R-Nev.)
John Hoeven (R-N.D.)
Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.)
Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.)
Mike Johanns (R-Neb.)
Ron Johnson (R-Wis.)
Mike Lee (R-Utah)
Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
Jerry Moran (R-Kan.)
Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
Rand Paul (R-Ky.)
Rob Portman (R-Ohio)
James Risch (R-Idaho)
Pat Roberts (R-Kan.)
Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)
Timothy Scott (R-S.C.)
Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)
Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)
John Thune (R-S.D.)
David Vitter (R-La.)
Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)

Posted in Corruption, gun control/guns, Hatred, News, Politics, Violence | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dear Congress, thirty thousand plus and rising


Dear Congress,

Thirty thousand plus and rising.

How many more will lose their lives?
What is the magic number?
When do you stop craving their gun money?

14 dead, 22 wounded in San Bernardino, California
I want to know, how much money did you earn with that one?

3 dead, 9 injured in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
What did you bargain for their death?

9 dead, 9 injured in Roseburg, Oregon
That holiday trip where you sat sipping bloody Marys, was it worth the cost of nine lives?

5 dead, 3 wounded in Chattanooga, Tennessee
The bloody steak in that restaurant must have been five stars for the five dead.

9 dead in Charleston, South Carolina
You dressed to the nines in your tailored silk suit, while they were being dressed in their best at the morgue.

27 killed, one injured in Newtown, Connecticut
We thought surely this would move you, but the blood of our babies bought you a fancier, blood-red car.

The list of the dead goes on and on.

And now the deadliest killing yet, 50 are dead and so many more injured in Orlando
You pledge your allegiance to the flag. One death is represented in each bloody star you have woven into your flag.

What magic number will it take before you realize
the tentacles of death, pain, and suffering
are on everything you touch?

This is your life, forever smeared in their blood.

Posted in Corruption, gun control/guns, Hatred, News, Politics, Violence | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Orlando you have my heart


This last month it is uncanny that I felt strongly there was going to be an attack on a Pride event this year. A city that many of us think of as a fun place to go unfortunately, Orlando became the target of someone’s mental instability.

I constantly worry for the safety of my girls (my daughter and her partner). They are publicly open about their relationship –  I fear it puts them in danger, even in Seattle. Yesterday’s events reminded me again that this world is not safe for my precious ones.

All the hate in this world, weighs heavily on my heart. I don’t understand what is wrong with our species that we war on each other; especially pick on sectors of our populations. We believe we are so special in this world, but act every bit like wild animals, sometimes worse.

Yesterday will stay with us a long time. I want to blame someone, but whoever do you blame? Religious leaders of Muslim and Christians? Is their hateful rhetoric responsible for setting a mentally ill person off enough to commit such an atrocity? All these questions roll through my mind, as I try to cope with what just happened.

I know I must not let events cause me to hate, yet I am angry. Angry my girls live in a world that has caused so much harm to those whose sexual orientation is different from those who fear them. The fear turns to hate, and the hate turns to unspeakable acts of violence.

Let’s call it what it is. The hate is a product of fear. Who feeds that fear? Religions are the biggest propagators. I believe every minister, pastor, rabbi,  priest, or political leader who speaks ill of any LGBT, has this blood on his or her hands. I’m sure if you are Christian the first thing that comes to your mind is, oh but this was a Muslim. Doesn’t matter – this man was brought up in a religious sect that perpetrated this hatred. If your Christian group is perpetrating hatred, you are as much to blame. Moreover, if you are a leader you are even more culpable!

Damn tootin’ I am angry too. I am angry that Christians, who forget Jesus words of love, surround me with voices of hatred. They cling to every word in the Bible they believe supports their hatred and bigotry. I am well aware of how this works.

If you are a Christian and think it excuses your faith for something a Muslim did, you should be questioning your own participation in hatred towards some of God’s children. In addition, the saying “hate the sin not the sinner” does not give anyone a pass. It’s the words of a Pharisee and every bit as hateful, no matter how much cover is dumped on it. I know not all Christians hate; however, too many still do, because their leaders teach them revulsion.

My responsibility? After LGBT marriage equality came through, I relaxed about being an ally to the LGBT community. Not that I ceased being an ally, I just wasn’t as active with my voice. I can make excuses that I’ve been busy with a new book, writing it, being published, and speaking engagements. I let a busy life keep me from activism. This is another wake-up call that the fight is not over.

No more excuses, I have to be vigilant. I need to protect my girls – and every other LGBT in this nation  – from those who propagate this fear, the religious or political groups that sow seeds of hatred. That is a tall order, I know, but adding my voice to a sea of other voices protesting the rhetoric that fuels these atrocities, is one more step of many, I must make. How about you?

Even though I feel anger, I am watching the outpouring of love from people around the world. This gives me hope, that attitudes are changing, and love is prevailing. Candles are being lit around the world! Muslims are speaking out in love, Christians too! Our Seattle Space Needle is flying the Pride flag at half-mast. Buildings are being lit up in rainbow colors from Tel Aviv to New York. Change has come, albeit slowly, but I couldn’t imagine this happening a couple of decades ago. Out of horror comes hope in these gestures of support and love, even though healing will not come easy for anyone.

My heart goes out to the victims, their family, friends, and the LGBT community.

Posted in gun control/guns, Hatred, News, Prejudice, Violence | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments