Friday, November 30, 2012

Another World AIDS Day

December 1st is World AIDS Day.

It is difficult for me to think about World AIDS Day without getting tears in my eyes.

So many died. And are still dying.

In 1992 when my best friend Felix died, over 40,000 others lost their battle.

This blog post is in loving memory of all of those we have lost AND with love to anyone who has ever been affected by HIV or AIDS.

Here is a link to the trailer of "How to Survive a Plague", an amazing movie about those early days in AIDS activism:

AIDS is not over. And the bigotry that allowed so many to die is not gone.

PLEASE do not forget the ones we lost. Remember them. Say their name. Think of something wonderful about them. Tell your friends or family about them.

And then take action. Donate to your local HIV/AIDS group. Fight bigotry in any form. Promote prevention. Talk about sex. Tell your elected officials about someone you lost.

Thank you for reading.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The beginning of the end

No, this post is not about the Mayan calendar. I hope you will still read it!

It starts with Tina Turner.

It was November of 1985 and the day had finally come when I would get to see her live in concert. She was performing at the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, VA, not far from where I was stationed. I decided that I was not going to miss her.

I was fortunate to have a car, although the reality at this point in my life was that having a car was not necessarily a good thing.

In October I had purchased a Chevy Citation. I loved it. I promised to never drink and drive. For someone who was in the end days of his active alcoholism, that was a promise that could simply not be kept.

Just the week before I had hit a car (parked) in the parking lot of a bar I was headed to. I was already drunk. As soon as I hit the car a police office opened my car door and grabbed my keys. It was dark and rainy I told him. It wasn't raining.

So the night I get to see Tina Turner began the same way as every other night did. By the time I got to my seat in the coliseum I was drunk. I could not remember how I got there.

I do remember Tina. She was amazing. Her voice, her running around stage and her saxophone player. He was gorgeous.

I remember her every November. And I remember how awful life had become. There would be many more drunk driving episodes before the end would come. And the desperation to stay drunk so I would not have to feel anything only got stronger. Consumed with self hatred and fear, alcohol was my saving grace.

Although alcoholism kills many, including many in the LGBT community and activist communities, the end for me would not be death.

I decided to write some blog posts about alcoholism and my path into recovery as I continue to see alcoholism destroy people in my communities. I will write more about this, including about how I began recovery from alcoholism on December 30, 1985.

Thank you for reading.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Recipe for my favorite Thanksgiving Day dish!

As you all know, I am not a food blogger. This is only my second blog post with a recipe. There are a ton of vegan food bloggers out there, so don't fret. I even have some of them linked here on my blog for your eating pleasure.

This recipe is from my husband, who grew up with this dish. I love it. In fact I am salivating for it as Thanksgiving Day dinner approaches.

I hope you love it!

Broccoli and Vegan Cheese Casserole

I got this recipe from Idea from my sister Tammy

  • 5 Boxes Frozen Broccoli Thawed (I usually use enough fresh Broccoli to fill a 9"x13" baking pan)
  • 2 Sleeves Ritz Crackers (or another vegan version)
  • 1 Cup Earth Balance margarine (the best tasting margarine in the world and no trans - fat)
  • 6 Tbsp Earth Balance margarine (the best tasting margarine in the world and no trans - fat)
  • 6 Tbsp Flour
  • 3 Cups Unsweetened Vegan Milk of Choice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Cups Shredded Daiya Cheese Cheddar Style (or vegan cheddar cheese of choice. Follow Your Hart works well too)
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard

  1. For the Cheese Sauce: In a small saucepan on medium heat, melt the 6 Tbsp of Earth Balance. Once the Earth Balance is liquefied, remove from the heat (don't turn off the burner) and add the flour, salt, and pepper; whisk until smooth. Place the saucepan back onto the burner and slowly add 1 cup of vegan milk, whisking constantly until thickening occurs, then add remaining vegan milk 1/2 cup at a time. Cook sauce over medium heat, Whisking constantly until thickened and smooth. Add the vegan cheese and Dijon mustard and cook for an additional 5 minutes, whisking until smooth and well blended (this may take longer than 5 min be patient it will come together).
  2. For the topping: Process Ritz Crackers in a food processor until a fine meal. Melt the remaining Earth Balance (1Cup) in a sauce pan. Combine the Ritz Crackers and Melted Earth Balance and stir till combined.
  3. Putting it Together: Place the Broccoli in a greased 9"x13" Casserole Dish. Pour the Vegan Cheese Sauce over the top distributing evenly (no need to stir). Cover the top of the Broccoli and Cheese mixture evenly with the Cracker mixture and pat down.
  4. Baking: Place in the oven at 350 Degrees for approximately 30-40min until bubbly and golden brown on top.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Building bridges

Our world is filled with people who just do not get along.

As I write this blog post, missiles are being fired into Gaza and into Israel. People are camping out in bomb shelters and parents are doing what they can to protect their children.Thousands on both sides are suffering.

In the US, the election is over but it seems that the fighting has just begun. Sunday morning sermons are filled with anti-gay speech, and the Republicans and Democrats can' stop arguing with the other side long enough to take a drink of coffee.

We see it in our own communities. People don't act as we think they should, aren't as much of an activist or vote for the wrong candidate and are all of a sudden terrible people and in the throws of gossip.

Mike and I have spent six years with our Cruelty-Free World business meetings folks from every community out there. Some thought we were sinners, some thought we were crazy for being vegan and many thought we could just not have anything at all in common.

I would smile and think to myself "you have no idea".

I remember protesting outside of Norfolk Baptist Church on a cold Sunday morning. The church had placed a multi-thousand dollar ad in our local paper making it clear to the readers that they do not support gay people. There was some lack of clarity when the paper reported a vote in the church membership. We were protesting the ad and were there for church services. Afterwards, I remember a family walking to their car and stopping to speak with me. "You know", the husband/father said " we all have more in common than not". I agreed with him.

And I still do.

We all do indeed have more in common than not. Sometimes we just have to look for it. Or open our eyes and minds to it.

Building bridges is key for any activist. It's not easy. Whatever cause you work on, that cause is better off when you try to build bridges. For me, I think of all of the voiceless throughout the world, animal and human, who suffer.  The gay man about to be executed in Iran; the woman for into sexual slavery; the chicken in a cage so tiny she cannot flap her wings; the pig who desperately wants to live; the "different" teen continually bullied in high school.

The list of those we can help by building bridges is endless.

So reach out to those who do not agree with you. Reach out with kindness. Your kindness can be a powerful testament to your cause.

Thank you for reading!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Saying goodbye to Cruelty-Free World

It started with not being able to find a vegan belt.
Then in May of 2006 we "opened" at the Boulder Creek Festival and the journey began. Cruelty-Free World allowed us to sell vegan belts, bags, purses and wallets. We would set up our tent, Mike would make sure the products looked perfect, and then we would welcome anyone who swung by to a completely cruelty-free world.
We have a ton of stories to tell and one day we will. Probably here. In six years of selling vegan goods at markets and festivals, we have had more than ten thousand (much more!)  people in our booth/tent.
Not all liked the idea that we were vegan. Or gay. Some got in our face. It didn't work. After six years we have heard it all, believe me.
Many asked questions about veganism. Many would start a conversation with "We don't have a lot in common because I _________ (fill in the blank with eat meat, hunt, like cheese, etc). Little did they know that they could not be more wrong.
We tried to welcome every person into our booth without judgement. Regardless of what they said to us. For the most part we accomplished this.
We brought veganism to people who had no clue. I loved watching Mike, surrounded by a group of women from the suburbs while he was talking about his favorite cookbook, and then watching all of the women leave with their first vegan cookbook tucked under their arm.
I have a zillion stories like that. Most of them include conversations with people who just wanted to learn about veganism in a non-threatening, non-judgemental environment. 
We sold over a thousand vegan cookbooks, many to people who were not vegan at the time. We also, thanks to PCRM, Mercy For Animals, PETA and Vegan Outreach, were able to pass out several thousand booklets about veganism. Special thanks to Cliff at Splaff, Albert at Hempys and the whole crew at Queen Bee for always creating awesome vegan belts, wallets, bags and purses and allowing us to show the world that beautiful accessories can be found without the cruelty involved.
Mike and I will always be grateful for all of the wonderful people we met while at our booth or in our tent. Our lives have been filled by people that, without Cruelty-Free World, we would have never met.
We are also totally grateful to everyone who ever bought something from us, as because of you we have been able to donate thousands and thousands of dollars to animal rights and human rights groups throughout the country. From big national groups to tiny animal shelters we have discovered on road trips, so many groups received donations because of the success we had with Cruelty-Free World.
The gratitude continues to our friends and family who supported our efforts. We found that 90% of our customers were not vegan or involved with animal rights when we first met them, and some times it felt that we could get only a little support from our own community. But our core friends and family were always there to encourage us and remind us why we were doing this.
After six years we have decided to look at new projects. This blog has taken off and we'd like to put more energy into it. The options are many and we are super excited to what else we can do to help make the world a better place for all living beings and be a voice for the voiceless.
This weekend will be our last show. One of our favorites. The annual World Gift Market at First Universalist in Denver. This has been our best year ever and we are ending our six year run with a bang. 
Stay tuned to The Gay Vegans blog. And you still might see us at your local festival or Farmer's Market. You never know!
Thanks everyone! Thanks to those who have supported CFW.
And thank you for reading!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Building bridges and more vegan options!

You might have read my blog post about Tarascos, a Mexican restaurant in southwest Denver that Mike and I absolutely love.  We ate there yesterday for lunch and after speaking with the owner for a few minutes I got the idea for this blog post.

One of the missions of The Gay Vegans blog is to build bridges, and to support others in building bridges. The relationship we have with the folks at Tarascos is a great example of what anyone can do in their own community to build a bridge, make the community more friendly for vegan cuisine, and in the end be a voice for the voiceless.

When we first ate at Tarascos the owner had already created a vegetarian menu. When we spoke with him about veganism his immediate reaction was that he could easily prepare amazing vegan food because every item was made to order, even their soup (which by the way, their sopa tarasca is a must try!).

Indeed it was easy. Most items on the full page of vegetarian options could be easily made vegan, just leave off the sour cream and cheese. We spoke with him about talking to his staff regarding the difference between vegetarian and vegan. We have had only the best Mexican food since!

In my years as a vegan I have met some restaurant owners who want nothing to do with vegan food. They are in the minority. The vast majority want to fill their restaurant and adding a few vegan items to the menu is easy. No matter their cuisine. The main thing is to approach owners with love and kindness, not judgement, especially if it is already a restaurant that you enjoy eating at.

Mike and I have had great success with this. And in the culinary world where we live it is easy to see that veganism is being embraced all over the place. Our favorite restaurants (listed on our blog) are all restaurants that serve meat, yet that have amazing vegan food.

Building bridges is really what this blog is all about. What better bridges to build than those that increase awareness around vegan food and bring delish vegan food to your local restaurant?!?!

If you need ideas for non-veg restaurants that serve amazing vegan food, just check out our list on the blog. These folks definitely know what they are doing. And we thank them every time we are at their establishment!

Buen provecho and thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A new day - The 2012 Election

Mike and I were surrounded by friends, enjoying vegan tamales (with vegan mole!) and sangria at our election night party when we heard that Ohio had gone for the President and news organizations began calling the Presidential election for President Obama.

I was ecstatic.

And I still am. As we continued to watch the results that night and then also the next morning, it became clear that, based on our opinions, election night had produced some wonderful results:

President Barack Obama was re-elected. This was huge for us based on equality, women's rights, veteran care and the economy. It is great having a President who supports our marriage.

The Colorado State House became Democratic again. As of right now it is 38 to 27. What this means is that we are likely to have our first openly gay Speaker of the House in Colorado and any civil unions bill presented is sure to pass. The Republican house leadership has stopped it for a couple of years, even though there were enough votes for it to pass if it got to a floor vote.

Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay member of the US Senate, representing Wisconsin. I take issue with her past support of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act and how that has affected animal activists, yet I am still happy for her. 

Gay marriage passed in Maine and Maryland. This means these states actually voted on whether to legalize gay marriage, and they both said YES! In Washington state, voters approved marriage equality as well, supporting a law signed by the governor earlier in the year.

An anti-gay amendment to the Minnesota constitution was defeated.

Our US Congressman, Ed Perlmutter, and our State Rep, Max Tyler, were both re-elected.

Amendment 64, which legalizes the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana in Colorado, passed. Even though political "leaders" were all against this, it passed. I am happy just for that, but also because I believe marijuana should be legalized (and the sale of it taxed). Too many people around the world die because of drugs being illegal.

In our county, Jefferson County, voters approved 3A and 3B which will raise tax revenues for our public schools.

Tea party scum in Indiana and Missouri were soundly defeated. I'm sure elsewhere too. It was a good night for religious extremists in this country.

Lots and lots of people voted. They waited forever in line to vote. They disputed being told they could not vote. They made sure their voice was going to be heard.

What was your favorite result of the election?

Before I close, I want to say thank you to our blog readers for putting up with our blogs written about the election. This election was just too important not to write about, or not to share who we supported and why. I'm sure it wasn't fun for all of our readers, but thanks for sticking with us and especially thanks for supporting us.

And thank you for reading this post!