Tag Archives: LGBT

A Personal Reflection: Gratitude for Julian Bond’s Positive Impact


Julian Bond, Civil Rights leader, advocate of LGBT equal rights, and Humanist, passed away this week.  From his college days when his journey of activism began to his final days at age 75, he was a tireless hero bringing light to our world, creating hope, and inspiring us all.

He spoke at a diversity event in October of 2014 on the “Road To Freedom: Alabama to Obama”.  He spoke not only of the current relevance of racial equality issues, but also of equality for all and his advocacy for the LGBT community. He conveyed the ethical urgency of treating all human beings like human beings. He steadfastly believed in the possibility of achieving that level of civic enlightenment.  He believed in the possibility – after all he has seen and been through.

After his speech he took questions; one person asked about his religion.  He answered simply that he was not a believer and never had been. A palpable shock wave of stunned silence pressed through the crowd, then faded unacknowledged as he moved on to answer the next question.  While he had always been a leader to look up to, this was something about him i had not known.  I truly cannot express how it felt to have a beloved national leader, whom i had always respected, reflect my non-belief – in front of my peers!  Seeing ourselves reflected in those around us and among leadership is important – and is a great step toward building bridges across differences.

Often we hear encouragement for those of invisible diversities, such as LGBTQ+, religious minority, or non-faith individuals, to be open about who they are.  Such bold genuineness can generate awareness that there are good people of these diversities all around us and that the potential for human goodness transcends divisive labels. If we can begin to see that some of the people we love fall in the set of those we have been trained to hate and fear, we might re-evaluate misguided judgment. And just maybe, start to fade the borders in our heart’s Venn diagram where we have divided “them” and “us”, and widen the intersection of “those we value”.

Being “out” as a non-religious individual is not easy – or safe – for everyone.  But there are many more like-minded people than we realize. Some secular individuals simply choose to be aligned culturally or in ritual practice with a faith perspective because they value the community and life structure it provides, but either openly or secretly do not share the faith. Others “pass” or pretend in fear of potential marginalization, devaluing, inequality, mistreatment, and other consequences that can come from being associated with the most hated demographic in America: Secularism.  The Clergy Project is a clear example of secular individuals whose complex, visibly faith-based journeys masked non-faith.

For our Orlando readers – one of the many UCF Office of Diversity and Inclusion workshops for students, faculty, and staff is Secular and Religious Minority Awareness (SRMA).  Similar to the content above, the workshop discussion and activities focus on exploring the experiences of those potentially impacted by faith-related inequities and generating respect for people of all faith and non-faith perspectives.

I remember a poignant missed opportunity to say hello to Julian Bond in the ballroom after his speech.  But later i happened to see him leaving from the building – and oh-yes-i-DID –  ran after him through the parking lot like a teenager wanting to meet a rock star after a concert. Worth looking silly: I had the honor of shaking his hand and thanking him for all that he has done to uplift humanity.  I didn’t specifically thank him for being forthright about his non-belief, but surely he knew the impact of his words. He was an empathetic leader in touch with those marginalized and in need of a voice. Millions of Americans need people like him to demonstrate and normalize Humanist goodness. I am grateful for his courage, tireless confidence in humanity, and immeasurable positive impact.

In the words of Southern Poverty Law Center co-founder Morris Dees: “With Julian’s passing, the country has lost one of its most passionate and eloquent voices for the cause of justice. He advocated not just for African Americans, but for every group, indeed every person subject to oppression and discrimination, because he recognized the common humanity in us all.” 

Julian Bond dedicated his life to historical national impact that influences millions to uplift others.  Many of us, however, are simply serving in some small way to make a difference in our community, our family, or even for an individual. Regardless of the scope of your impact, you matter. To each of you – thank you for all that you do to make the world a better place.  When you bring hope, inspiration, and happiness to others, it matters in ways you will never even know.

headshot_2014 - thumbPeace,
Tee Rogers,
Founder and Organizer, BE. Orlando

“Act as if what you do makes a difference.  It does.”  ~ William James

We’re halfway there.  ~ Zeno


correct-social-icons (5)  BE. Orlando’s Meetup Events – join us for a volunteer project!


FDA Recommendations on Gay Male Blood Donation Ban – and why you need to know.

banner - website 2Some of our members & readers may not know this: between now and July 14th, our voice can empower more individuals to donate life-saving blood – you CAN make a difference!

World Blood Donor Day was just this past weekend.  It is a global effort to raise awareness about the necessity of blood donation and the World Health Organization announced its goal of achieving 100% voluntary donors to support the global blood supply by 2020. This is a perfect time to be aware of this potential – and extremely impactful and empowering – change in FDA regulation.  A change, however, that needs to be stronger to be truly meaningful.

In 1983, the FDA enacted a life-long ban that prevented any man who had engaged in a same-sex encounter since 1977 from donating blood.  In May 2015, the FDA announced the draft of a recommendation to release of that life-long ban, with a new recommendation for a one-year abstinence. There is a 60 day public comment period; public comments are being accepted through July 14, 2015.

A one year abstinence is a step, but is still medically unwarranted discrimination.

If sexually transmitted diseases cannot be detected by testing, and a one-year period of abstinence is required to ensure that the blood supply is safe, then individuals should be abstinent for at least one year in order to be eligible to donate blood.

Heterosexuals and homosexuals potentially engage in promiscuous behavior, and as the blood of each can equally be tested, they should be treated the same.

How many adults do you know who have spent a year without physical human intimacy, including those with a monogamous life partner/spouse?  So… How many individuals who were not previously able to donate because of the life-long ban do you think will be able to donate blood if this recommendation goes through?

A one-year waiting period that discriminates against gay males is not good enough. The FDA should consider what the actual risk behavior is – e.g., number of partners over time – and without regard to sexual orientation, enact regulations that promote a safe blood supply while empowering more donors to save lives.

Read over the information in the links below, do some research of your own, and add your voice.  The deadline for responding is July 14, 2015.

A thought for personal reflection: Someone said to me today that “steps” toward equality can serve as reminders of inequality.  Do you think steps toward genuine respect for others are necessary? meaningful? Do they help inform positive change? What is the difference between making someone feel valued, and truly valuing them?


Also of note – SCOTUS decision will be “out” soon regarding gay marriage.  Join BE. Orlando and friends in celebrating the landmark decision – regardless of outcome – on June 29th.


Zebra Coalition Launches LGBTQ+ Education fund

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Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) students often have compelling and inspiring stories of overcoming incredible obstacles and hardships in pursuit of their goals for education. Many have experienced rejection by their families including being cut off from all financial support, and some even forced to leave home.

 Last week Zebra Coalition launched the new Jefferson R. Voss Education Fund to support LGBTQ students in the Central Florida area to achieve their full academic and leadership potential. By identifying and supporting LGBTQ scholars, The Zebra Coalition hopes to break down barriers to education experienced by many LGBTQ students.

Application for Scholarship  DONATE – Support this scholarship fund

PAST POST:  Event Announcement

This is a free event celebrating the launch of a new fund to support the effort to ensure LGBTQ+ youth in our local area access to educational opportunities. Join us to learn how we, our groups, or our workplaces can support this important effort.  REGISTER here (free – but space is limited).

From the Zebra Coalition:

Be one of the first to learn about our new education fund for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students.

Zebra Coalition recognizes the obstacles that LGBT+ youth often face when trying to access education. Through our new scholarship program, The Jefferson R. Voss Education Fund, Zebra Coalition will identify and support LGBT+ students in the Central Florida area to achieve their full academic and leadership potential.

Join us on Friday, February 27 to learn about the new education fund and how you can ensure LGBT+ students have the opportunity to access their education needs.

This is a free event where you will enjoy bites from our partners at John Michael Weddings & Special Events and sips from our friends at Savoy Orlando.

About the Zebra Coalition

The Zebra Coalition® is a network of organizations which provide services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and all youth (LGBT+) ages 13 – 24. The Coalition assists young people facing homelessness; bullying; physical, sexual and drug abuse; and isolation from their families with individualized programs to guide them to recovery and stability.


Florida Steps Into the Light

Celebrations will be going on all over Florida today in support of the first day of marriage equality in the sunshine state. This is a historic day, achieved by courageous, dedicated individuals who worked toward love and hope against a current of hate, is certainly a day we should all recognize and remember.

We are saddened by those counties that have chosen to close all courthouse marriages; may they find peace for their anger and fear and move toward kindness and respect.  Where obstacles have been built, so have bridges over them. There are many celebrants standing by all over Florida, as well as multiple mass marriages and re-commitment ceremonies; we hope all couples will be able to connect with the perfect celebrant for their wedding.

Congratulations to all of our friends in the LGBTQ+ community who are getting married!