taking this show on the road

I am deeply grateful to the South Carolina Gay and Lesbian Business Guild for inviting Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home to be the program for their January meeting, the first monthly meeting of 2018. The Guild meeting was historic for the book, too, since it marked the first public appearance of contributors to discuss their participation in the project since the book was published at the end of December, 2017.

(l. to r. contributors Teresa Williams, Nekki Shutt, Ed Madden, 

Harriet Hancock, Michael Haigler, Candace Chellew-Hodge

and editor Sheila Morris)  

photo courtesy The Guild

An audience of more than 50 people listened intently as Candace Chellew-Hodge discussed her reluctance to move to South Carolina from Atlanta many years ago and the subsequent transformation in her life that led to community service; Michael Haigler’s description of three years in Africa in the Peace Corps and another 20 years in San Francisco that ultimately led him home to build community in his native state; Harriet Hancock’s remarks on the impact the civil rights movement had in her life of activism that took a different course when her son came out in the early 1980s;

Ed Madden’s story of his own journey home that began in Arkansas but took him to South Carolina where he found the experience of family that his own mother and father continue to withhold because of his sexual orientation; Nekki Shutt’s experiences as an attorney who faced overt gender discrimination in her chosen legal profession that couldn’t deter her from her dogged determination to have marriage equality in South Carolina; Teresa Williams who withstood family pressures and the fear of the loss of her son as she fiercely protected her role as mother and ultimately her role as a lesbian activist.

These are six real stories – intimate accounts – of the lives of ordinary people who became extraordinary in their commitments to stay home and move their home state from an oftentimes hostile environment toward a place of true equality for all of its citizens. These six people and their amazing stories take their place along with fifteen others in the book who shared their commitment to home and their courage to fight for change… twenty-one  southern perspectives captured in one volume that supplies missing information in the overall struggle for queer rights during the turbulent 30-year period from the AIDS epidemic that characterized the 1980s through the realization of marriage equality in 2014.

I do believe that truth is stranger than fiction – and just as entertaining.

Our next public appearance will be on Monday, January 29th. at 4:30 in the afternoon on the University of South Carolina campus at the Russell House Theater. Panelists for this event are Harriet Hancock, Ed Madden, Alvin McEwen, Sheila Morris, Pat Patterson a/k/a Patti O’Furniture, and Nekki Shutt. Dr. David Snyder will be our moderator.

(Books will be available for sale and signing by contributors of books bought there or elsewhere.)

We hope you will join us as we continue to take this show on the road.

Stay tuned.





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beware the (fill-in-the-blank) immigrants

I collect words and quotes like some people collect antique automobiles, and recently I’ve been interested in American presidential quotes on specific topics like, for example, immigration. The American Immigration Center offers quotes from noted Americans on the topic of immigration including the quotes of these presidents.

“I take issue with many people’s description of people being illegal immigrants. There aren’t any illegal human beings as far as I’m concerned.” Woodrow Wilson, 28th.

Our attitude towards immigration reflects our faith in the American ideal. We have always believed it possible for men and women who start at the bottom to rise as far as their talent and energy allow. Neither race nor place of birth should affect their chances.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd

“As an immigrant, I chose to live in America because it is one of the freest and most vibrant nations in the world. And as an immigrant, I feel an obligation to speak up for immigration policies that will keep America the most economically robust, creative and freedom-loving nation in the world.”  Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th.

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries {Haiti, El Salvador, other African nations} come here?” Donald J. Trump, 45th.

Shame on you, 45, for such a reprehensible comment that sullies the legacy of not only other great American leaders but spits on the words of the Statue of Liberty herself as she has welcomed the world on Liberty Island in New York Harbor since 1886.

Give me your tired, your poor,

your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

the wretched refuse of your teeming shores.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost, to me –

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

And finally, as I celebrate our national holiday today of the birthday of one of the greatest civil rights activists in our history, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I leave you with a personal favorite quote of his.

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous

than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

Stay tuned.




Posted in Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments

time’s up according to Oprah, and I would never argue with her

Pretty and I are awards show junkies, and the Golden Globes starts our official 2018 preoccupation with pop culture. To be honest, Pretty is somewhat of the Queen of Pop at our house because I just can’t keep up with the posts and tweets about the movies on Demand, on Netflix and on Amazon like Pretty does. Full disclosure for me is that Pop culture is my worst category in Trivia Crack with a score of 64% so any fool can see I shouldn’t even be playing against Pretty who pounds me regularly (at Trivia Crack). Heh, heh.

The Golden Globes last night for the 2018 awards was, in my opinion, one of the best shows they’ve ever had. Seth Myers was an acceptable emcee who began the evening questioning what he was doing there since the clearly historic emphasis for the event was women speaking truth to power. And speak they did…loud and long.

Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Frances McDormand, Allison Janney, Laura Dern, Octavia Spencer, Helen Mirren, and Kerry Washington were a few of the women stars who were eloquent in their remarks on the Red Carpet and during the show iteself  – obviously committed to the cause; but the house rose to its feet three times for one key speaker, Oprah Winfrey, who became the first African American woman to win the Cecil B. DeMille Award.

“In a room full of master storytellers, Oprah showed them all how it was done. Oprah united the famous and the unknown, the powerful and the powerless, the farm worker and the film star.” – Maureen Ryan, Variety, today

Oh, how I wish I had written those words because that’s exactly what I felt in Oprah’s ability to transform and transfix the atmosphere of the whole Golden Globes experience. If you haven’t heard her speech, please find it somewhere in cyberspace and treat yourself to 9 minutes of a woman freely and candidly speaking her truth to power.

Knock, knock, who’s there? It’s Oprah with a warning to those who would abuse power against the powerless: your time is up.

I would never argue with Oprah and oh my goodness, I would love to vote for her for President.

Stay tuned. Onward.


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hello, gorgeous – the memories, the music, the magic of Streisand

When Ellen DeGeneres introduced Barbra Streisand on her show a week before Christmas, I was a member of her mesmerized TV viewing audience… but felt something was slightly off kilter from the moment Barbra made her entrance. What was wrong, I thought, as Barbra walked over from my right to greet Ellen in the center of the screen with the typical hug, smile and air kiss. Then Barbra sat down in Ellen’s chair while Ellen sat down across from her. I was gobsmacked – never in all my 15 years of watching Ellen’s show had anyone dared to sit in Ellen’s chair.

I mean, this was like a cosmic shift. I felt my universe begin to rotate counterclockwise.

But the interview confirmed Barbra has a preferred side to be filmed and unfortunately, it was the same side Ellen liked for herself. However, in the interest of fair play (and obtaining the exclusive interview), Ellen gave up her chair for the Streisand visit – and who wouldn’t? Good move, I agreed.

The rare television appearance on the Ellen show was to promote Barbra’s new Netflix concert; and sisters and brothers, I was happy to answer her altar call for the holy church of Streisand music during the holiday season.

Pretty made the mistake of sleeping in later on Christmas morning when I got up to see if Santa Claus had left me anything under the tree and lo and behold, he had. I started a fire in the den fireplace and turned on Netflix to find some Christmas music. The first image I saw was Barbra’s concert she had been talking about on the Ellen show, and I knew I must have been a very good girl to get this surprise from Santa.

who needs chestnuts roasting on an open fire

Pretty got up in time to see Jamie Foxx and Barbra sing Climb Every Mountain together after the intermission, and she was hooked, too. They made some majestic music together.

I have to admit I’ve skipped quite a few football bowl games this year that I normally would never miss – in favor of listening several times to the Streisand concert on Netflix. But when a concert begins with The Way We Were, hang on to your misty water-colored memories and settle in for the musical magic that the incomparable Barbra Streisand has brought to us for six decades…that would be 60 years, but who’s counting.

Thanks, Santa.

Stay warm – and stay tuned.



Posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, Random, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged | 6 Comments

in life, it’s not where you go, it’s who you travel with

in life, it’s not where you go, it’s who you travel with

(Hallmark Shoebox greeting card – courtesy Lisa Martin)

I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions any more since I’ve realized I’ll never keep them. If you’re a person who makes promises to yourself and others and is somehow successful in making them a part of your life every year, my cyberspace hat is tipping toward you right this minute. I envy and admire your fortitude. My spirit is willing, but my flesh is definitely weak.

What I lack in fortitude I make up in gratitude, and this new year I am grateful for the people I’ve been lucky enough to travel with during the past seven decades of my life. I hope you know who you are…and that you appreciate the journey with me as much as I appreciate the journey with you. Your friendships are the “memory makers” for me, as Granny Selma used to say when she was in her right mind, and I carry you with me wherever I roam.

For my cyberspace followers, although our travels are in separate places in different parts of the globe, I feel we travel together and I am grateful for everything we share. I am amazed at the close relationships formed through our virtual reality. You guys rock.

Our holiday season was a happy one at Casa de Cardinal, but we are a little worse for the wear. Pretty has had a bad case of the epizootie but is working on taking down the holiday decorations and putting them away for next year. As for Charly and Spike, my everyday traveling companions, this is how they feel about their new toys and life in general.

stick a fork in us, we’re done

Stay tuned in 2018. Onward.








Posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | 14 Comments

who knew the 17th. Christmas was the charm?

The image I’ve used as the header for my blog during December this year is a picture that Number One Son took of his mother and me in our very first home at our very first Christmas together in December, 2001.

What I remember about that picture, besides how easy it was to get up after it was taken, was the giddy feeling of happiness I felt in sharing that holiday season with Pretty who clearly had a quintessential Christmas spirit that bubbled through every gift bought, wrapped carefully and placed under the tree she had picked out and decorated.

It was the first year we blended our families, of course, and I remember being nervous about having my mother visiting from Texas to meet Pretty’s family who would be driving down from the upstate. My mom, Granny Selma, was always a wild card under the best of circumstances so the only question mark was whether she would be on her I’m a lady with a lot of dignity so I must be on my best behavior or whether she would deliver one of her Jesus is the reason for the season monologues. Luckily, we had three dogs (Sassy, Annie and Red) that distracted her so she was limited to a long prayer at the dinner table.

Sixteen Christmases have come and gone since that first Christmas together in 2001, and Pretty has plowed her way through them like an ocean liner crossing the Atlantic. Full steam ahead – refusing to be deterred by lesser Bah Humbug mortals like me who whine about why we can’t cut a corner or two one year…or the heartbreaking absence of family members at her Christmas dinner table during a few of those years. Pretty kept on believing in the miracles of the season.

Pretty and her tree this year

Christmas night – Santa’s elves

The Grinch

now where did I put Papa’s gift?

everyone, please listen to me…our order of opening gifts

will be to go from  the youngest to the oldest

Pretty Too, Number One Son and Papa

Pretty with her helper Charly – Jim and Sis paying attention

Gifts that made us smile…

I just love it when a plan comes together 

more gifts

mallow cups – Pretty’s favorite candy – hooray!

 the miracle of laughter

“practical” gifts from Pretty for Papa who doesn’t believe in “luxury” gifts

Papa always made sure we had a box of “practical” gifts every Christmas

I just love my red apron

 even the Grinch is getting in the spirit

 love – the greatest miracle of all

more laughter… which is right up there behind love

presents, presents, everywhere – and not a cookie to be found

and more gifts, more laughter

how many more gifts can there be?

Papa’s shutterfly book: The Barns of Madison County

(the cover photo is the home in Appalachia where he was born)

and still more laughter

Lawdy, Lawdy – the Grinch actually bought me a present this year!

Merry Christmas to me

Yes, Merry Christmas to you, Pretty – I do believe this 17th. family Christmas of ours has been the best ever, and I thank you for keeping faith in the miracles of love, laughter and family not only during the holiday seasons but in every season of the year. We love you…



Posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

missing baby Jesus update – the Red Man’s Christmas traditions

On Christmas Eve my thoughts return to the thrilling days of yesteryear when The Red Man ranted and raved his way through cyberspace for seven years from 2010 – 2016. Red was a rescued Welsh terrier that became my alter ego who introduced me to the blogosphere. No subject was too sacred for that little dog to discuss – politics, religion, sports, the dearly beloved, the dearly departed, his favorite TV shows, his crushes on Hottie Docs – really he had an exaggerated opinion of himself and his literary abilities. How I miss him and his mischief.

But what Red really loved was a healthy dose of gossip about someone or something he could make fun of, and there was a particular story about a missing baby Jesus in an outdoor church nativity scene in Navasota, Texas that entertained him every Christmas.

Apparently the old woman Slow, Red’a name for me, had a cousin who was the Church Organist at a little church in Navasota that had a decoration committee which was responsible for erecting and maintaining an outdoor nativity scene every year with the requisite Wise Men, little shepherd boy, sheep, Mary, Joseph, the whole manger “scene.” The focal point of the presentation was a tiny cradle holding the baby Jesus. Just your regular old run-of-the-mill outdoor church nativity scene.

The only distinguishing difference with this particular pastoral scene was discovered by the Church Organist’s older brother one evening in December, 2010 when he was strolling the grounds rolling his cigarettes while waiting for the Church Organist to finish choir practice. When he walked past the nativity scene, he saw that the cradle was empty, as in no baby Jesus at all…anywhere… which kind of ruined the whole effect of the scene. So this Bearded Brother informed the Church Organist who told the Pastor.

High drama ensued at the little church during the business meeting the following Wednesday night in which the church Pastor admitted there had been a cover-up by the decoration committee which was aware the baby Jesus had actually been stolen the previous year but the committee members were hoping no one would get close enough to the nativity scene to notice since no one had noticed last year. None of the members had considered the possibility that the Church Organist’s brother would be rolling cigarettes next to the nativity scene.

Through the years the mystery of the baby Jesus theft was never solved for any number of reasons including but not limited to the year one of the members of the church decoration committee ran off with another member’s husband which completely halted the search that year. Another year one of the Wise Men’s legs broke off, and still another year found the little shepherd boy had grown a mustache of snow…who had time to think about an empty cradle during more obvious emergencies.

Gradually through the years the manger itself began to  slowly disintegrate in the harsh Texas winters until this year according to the same Church Organist cousin, the outdoor nativity scene was abandoned and the cradle in the manger moved inside the church to a place of reverence under the Christmas tree in the sanctuary.

The Bearded One had this to say:

Who could dare put the empty Jesus crib by the tree,

still empty! Maybe the decoration committee is trying

to make the thief come forward, and reveal his shame, 

just horrible, anyone who would steal the Baby Jesus

will surely burn in Hell.

I know for sure The Red Man would have laughed to himself once again over the true meaning of the Christmas spirit revealed in the never-ending saga of the missing baby Jesus.

From Pretty, Charly, Spike and the old woman Slow, (none of whom can believe it’s really Christmas of 2017)

Merry Christmas to all, and keep a close watch over your mangers.





Posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Merry Christmas to me – BOOKS ARE IN!!!

books in the warehouse – being shipped to customers today

Thanks so much to all of you have pre-ordered – if you haven’t ordered your copies, please do soon!

P.S. There will be several opportunities in January and February to have your copies signed by me, Harlan Greene and the other contributors (Jim Blanton, Candace Chellew-Hodge, Matt Chisling, Michael Haigler, Harriet Hancock, Deborah Hawkins, Dick Hubbard, Linda Ketner, Ed Madden and Bert Easter, Alvin McEwen, Pat Patterson, Jim and Warren Redman-Gress, Nekki Shutt, Tony Snell, Tom Summers, Matt Tischler, Teresa Williams) at various functions including the Guild on Thursday, January 11th.

If you want me to sign copies you’ve bought before Christmas for gifts, please send me an email at smortex@aol.com to arrange a time to bring them by my home for me to sign. I will be here throughout the holidays.

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maybe if we don’t talk about them, they’ll just disappear

In March of this year, two months after the inauguration of the 45th. president of the Unites States, the Department of Health and Human Services dropped questions about sexual orientation and gender identity in two surveys of elderly people (which must surely explain why I wasn’t included in either one of the surveys).

Shortly after the new administration took over the West Wing of the White House, the Department of Health and Human Services removed all information about LGBT Americans from its website. That’s right…deleted…gone…erased.

And now the words transgender and diversity are two of  seven words no longer allowed at the Center for Disease Control according to a recent administration rule. The other prohibited words include vulnerable, fetus, evidence-based, science-based and entitlement. 


In the spirit of bipartisanship, I decided to create my own list of seven forbidden actions for the West Wing inhabitants in 2018:



knee-jerk reactions


alternative facts

early a.m. tweeting

maniacal nuclear threats

I lost my holiday spirit with this one, but I promise to retrieve it. Until then…

Stay tuned.



Posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , | 8 Comments

sweet home Alabama!

Thank you to the people of Alabama for restoring my faith and hope in a life-long American dream of liberty and justice for all and for reminding me that Every Vote Counts.

I especially want to thank the black women of Alabama for their contribution to this important win. I believe in your march to the polls yesterday I could hear echoes of the   voice of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. whose words are etched in stone in the Civil Rights Museum in Montgomery, Alabama.

Just imagine if one day justice really could “roll down on us like waters and righteousness (which Webster’s everyday thesaurus describes as that which is  honorable, ethical, honest, just, fair, equitable…) like a mighty stream.”

Until then…

Stay tuned.

Posted in Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, Random, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments