Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I love Twitter

This is part II of posts I am writing about social media.

This post is all about Twitter. I love Twitter. You can find me @TheGayVegans as well as @FundraiserDan.

Twitter allows me to meet people from all over the world, to engage in conversation around almost every topic, and to get my blog posts in front of people who want to read them.

I have truly met amazing people on Twitter.

For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, Twitter is another social media option in which the user has 140 characters to pass along information, opinions, articles, pretty much anything. If you are interested it's easy to set up an account and get going. Like most social media opportunities, it's only as good for you as the amount of effort you put into it. I am on Twitter most days, reading what people are writing, passing along their info if it interests me, posting my blogs, and engaging in conversation with people I both agree and disagree with.

On Twitter you can meet other activists, regardless of your cause. I use the Twitter feed page as a way of watching what is going on in the world on a daily basis. As a fundraiser for a non-profit, I also use Twitter as a way to connect with other fundraisers and I learn a lot from them.

Check it out. And say hi!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Catholic bigotry from a Catholic perspective

I grew up Catholic and I have wonderful memories of my church, priests I knew, and activist Catholics who were my heroes. I was never one who has called myself a recovering Catholic, that just wasn't my experience.

I left the Catholic church when I came out. I remember clearly my last mass as a closeted gay man. I was on a ship (in the Navy), and after thoughtful prayer I walked away. The only time I have been back is to celebrate people getting married or who have passed, and the occasional time I go with my mom just to make her day.

In my office I have a poster, in Spanish, with all of the names of Catholic activists murdered in El Salvador in the 80's. I spent time in San Salvador going to places where the murders occurred and visiting the tomb of Bishop Oscar Romero, another Catholic hero of mine. There are many. As an activist I have learned a lot from social justice Catholics. Indeed, that's what I thought my church was all about until I came out: helping the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the tortured, and those seeking justice.

Meanwhile, in Colorado, the Catholic hate against gays and lesbians is front page news. Outraged at being second-class citizens, groups have introduced yet another attempt to pass a civil unions bill. In Senate committee testimony, "members of Catholic Charities threatened to cut their services in the state if gay and lesbian couples were granted civil unions. That's right, they said they'd stop assisting the most vulnerable among us—including children waiting for foster or adoptive homes—if our families were protected under the law. The reality is that the Colorado Civil Union Act contains specific protections on religious freedom and ensures that no child placement agency will be forced to place a child with a couple in a civil union." (Taken from a press release from One Colorado)

This isn't a surprise as I believe they did the same thing in Illinois. I'm sure the Archbishop of Denver agrees with this stance, although I have a hard time finding Catholics (just basic, regular, church going Catholics) here who agree. And some Catholics around the country go gaga over Rick Santorum, who points to his Catholicism as reasoning for being anti-gay (amongst the many things he is anti towards). Even some animal rights activists can't help but drool over Rick Santorum as he is so animal friendly. There is no mention of his genocidal tone towards gay people when the drool flows. As if it doesn't matter.

It's time for these same Catholics to take a stand and say enough is enough. These same people have so much power, especially with their pocket books. Stop the spiritual war against gays and lesbians. Stop supporting religious hierarchies that have declared war on gays and lesbians.

Thank you for reading!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Social media for your cause

Wikipedia's definition of social media: Social media includes web-based and mobile technologies used to turn communication into interactive dialogue.

Before I even begin with this post I must let you know that I am in no way a pro at social media. I have a basic understanding of it and have used it for many purposes including my day job (as a professional fundraiser) and promoting causes and groups that are near and dear to me.

Social media enables you to make your world larger than it is. From wherever you are. It has enabled me to create this blog and build bridges with communities of people all over the world, some who agree with my posts and some that don't. It allows me to connect with other activists, other vegans, other fundraisers, other passionate people, most of whom I would have never been able to connect with.

It's easy to start. If you have a Facebook page you can create a page that is all about your group or cause. I have a page for The Gay Vegans Cruelty Free World and for Coloradans for Marriage Equality. They each serve a different purpose but many times I will post one of my blog posts on both pages. Facebook pages include very large animal rights or human rights groups as well as very small shelters around the country. Some groups are for a specific area and others for anyone who is interested in their cause.

And it's certainly not just about Facebook. There are a ton of ways to engage with social media and I'll cover other ways later.

Engage the world and check it out. I realize many of you reading this might already use social media a lot, yet for those who don't I highly recommend.

More to come, including our experience on Twitter (we love it) and learning about new social media opportunities (like Pinterest, which we just started).

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Ellen, JC Penney, and bigotry

You may have heard about this story with Ellen speaking out against the "One Million Moms" for attacking JC Penney because they hired Ellen as their spokeswoman.

Mike and I have a couple of things in common with Ellen and her wife Portia: we are all gay and we are all vegan. I realized I had much more in common with Ellen when I listened to this statement:

"Here are the values I stand for. I stand for honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you'd want to be treated and helping those in need. To me, those are traditional values. That's what I stand for…" This was part of Ellen

I have been following the One Million Moms fiasco against Ellen DeGeneres and her new gig as spokeswoman for JC Penney. This is bigotry at it's best.

On the positive side, I am thrilled to support a company who so openly embraces equality, and goes steps above that in confronting those who attack them for supporting equality. Plus, their CEO made his own video supporting Ellen!

JC Penney, I have always enjoyed shopping with you and look forward to so much more. As an animal rights and human rights activists there are many stores I do not shop at, so having an excuse to support you even more is wonderful!

I often write about hate and bigotry. Such a waste of time and energy when there is so much suffering in the world that people could use that energy towards. Yet it continues and Mike and I will continue to ask you to stand with us as we fight it.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, February 10, 2012

End the spiritual hatred against gay people

Mike and I were married on April 30, 2005. We got married in our church, the church where we met, by our pastor, with friends and family surrounding us.

We consider ourselves a married couple. I refer to Mike as my husband.

With the election coming up later this year I find myself listening to more and more rhetoric and propaganda against marriage equality or really anything that might support or come out positive towards gay people. I listen to people who want to be president say that they are outraged that under President Obama people are not allowed to practice the faith of their convictions. They talk about freedom a lot yet their definition of freedom does not include us.

It's an outrage that Mike and I cannot receive the same state and federal benefits as heterosexual couples. It's an outrage that we are somehow immoral while pious white heterosexual men seemingly have no interest to support the poor, the oppressed, the disadvantaged, or those who have lost their home after honestly doing everything in their power to keep their home. Their only concern is that marriage be kept solely a heterosexual privilege (as many marriages as heterosexuals want).

It's an outrage that only Mormon's or fundamentalist Christians should have the freedom to practice the faith of their convictions. Or that when they talk about freedom, they have no idea what that word means.

It's an outrage that all gay and lesbian people have to live as second class citizens. I was glad to read what the Portsmouth (New Hampshire) Herald editorial board wrote as they voiced their opinion to the state legislature to keep their hands of of gay marriage: "Lawmakers should count this newspaper's editorial board as strongly against repeal of same sex marriage, and we will loudly protest any efforts to turn anyone in New Hampshire into a second class citizen."

They are not alone. And I know Mike and I are not alone. I know that the vast majority of people truly believe in equality for all and that includes gay people.

We must speak truth to power. We must constantly speak out against supposed religious leaders and supposed lovers of Jesus who spend their entire lives demonizing gay people and trying to force us to be second class citizens.

We must come out publicly with our outrage.

We must stop supporting religious hierarchy's that deny the right to exist for gay people. There are an imaginable number of people who support marriage equality and at the same time give their money to religious institutions that rob us of our own spirituality and the right to live in it.

Meanwhile, gay people are tossed out of religious empires on a daily basis. Teens coming out face violence at home and immediate homelessness once coming out. Some take their own lives. Yet the vile speech against gay people continues, and it becomes even stronger when heterosexual people want more power.

Thank you for reading.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Set up a library display!

I am at our local library having just set up our vegan display. I wanted to share this with all of our readers as this is a wonderful way to promote your activism regardless of the cause. Our local library has let us set up a vegetarian/vegan display three times now, and each time prior to this they have gotten incredible feedback. Last time we did this they set up an assortment of veg and vegan cookbooks and they couldn't keep up with the demand to check them out!

I love our local library and come here often. I frequently check in with them to see when I can get on the list for the display. I'm not sure what the policies are where you live, but here in Jefferson County, Colorado, one basically just needs to sign up on the list. Displays are on a monthly basis so once you sign up you just wait until your month comes and then arrive the first day of that month to set up your display.

For our displays we have used vegan food item boxes to promote the wide variety of vegan foods. This time I just set up the display with several vegan cookbooks, veg starter kits from PCRM and Vegan Outreach, and a couple of tshirts from PETA and Mercy For Animals. I like to keep the display simple and with plenty of room around the items in the display so folks can easily read the information and book titles. If you have a local event coming up and have a card or flyer to promote it, I highly suggest adding that. With Veg Fest Colorado coming up later this year I also added their postcard to our display so people can learn about that event.

Setting up a library display is such a great way to promote and educate around what is important to you. Hundreds of people a day will see this display and if our past history maintains, many of those will check out a veg cookbook. And it barely takes any time at all to plan it and set it up.

Please let us know if you set up a library display. We'd love to hear all about it!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Make a February donation

Being gay and vegan, we have several different kinds of non-profits that we donate money to. Some are making the world a better place for animals, some for LGBTQ folk, and some for people with HIV or AIDS. All of them love getting donations in February.

Most non-profits get tons of donations in the last couple of months of the year. This make sense for people giving money, as they are feeling a little more generous and/or making donations for tax purposes. For the groups making the world a better place for all living beings, a donation in December is great. The same donation earlier in the year, when giving is low and needs remain the same (and for most groups we support the need is always rising), means even more.

As much as we try to be a voice for the voiceless every day, and as many actions as we might take to support animals being tortured and humans being discriminated against, there are many groups out there that are rocking it for the voiceless. Some of them are linked from our blog. Check them out. Look to see if it might be a convenient time to donate to one of these groups, or a group local to you making a difference.

Then donate. Give them the much needed funds they need to continue to rock it for the voiceless.

And don't think for a second that your donation of $10 or $25 is too small to make a difference. It all adds up, and every donation is important to the organizations out there making the world a better place for all living beings.