Maya Angelou and Coach Dawn Staley – the power of personhood

American poet, author, civil rights activist Maya Angelou (1928 – 2014) and Coach Dawn Staley, head basketball coach of the University of South Carolina women’s basketball team – what’s not to love and admire about these women in March or any other month?

Stay tuned.

Posted in Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, Reflections, Slice of Life, sports, The Way Life Is | Tagged , | Leave a comment

talking guns with Texas columnist Molly Ivins

Although Molly Ivins was born in Monterrey, California in 1944, her family wasted no time in moving her as a young child to Texas where she grew up and  lived off and on for the rest of her life. I claim Molly not only as a Texan but also as one of my favorite women “essayists with humorist tendencies.” When I come back in my next life, please God, let me come back as Molly Ivins  with the voice of Maya Angelou.

Molly Ivins was a syndicated columnist with Creators Syndicate, Inc. and on March 13, 1993 published this column called Taking a Stab at our Infatuation with Guns. As I watched students across the country walking out of their schools today to protest gun violence, I thought of Molly’s words. Twenty-five (25) years later they sadly still ring true.

Guns. Everywhere guns.

Let me start this discussion by pointing out that I am not anti-gun. I’m pro-knife. Consider the merits of the knife.

In the first place, you have to catch up with someone in order to stab him. A general substitution of knives for guns would promote physical fitness. We’d turn into a whole nation of great runners. Plus, knives don’t ricochet. And people are seldom killed while cleaning their knives.

As a civil libertarian, I of course support the Second Amendment. And I believe it means exactly what it says: “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Fourteen-year-old boys are not part of a well-regulated militia. Members of wacky religious cults are not part of a well-regulated militia. Permitting unregulated citizens to have guns is destroying the security of this free state.

I am intrigued by the arguments of those who claim to follow the judicial doctrine of original intent. How do they know it was the dearest wish of Thomas Jefferson’s heart that teen-age drug dealers should cruise the cities of this nation perforating their fellow citizens with assault rifles? Channelling?

There is more hooey spread about the Second Amendment. It says quite clearly that guns are for those who form part of a well-regulated militia, i.e., the armed forces including the National Guard. The reasons for keeping them away from everyone else get clearer by the day.

The comparison most often used is that of the automobile, another lethal object that is regularly used to wreak great carnage. Obviously, this society is full of people who haven’t got enough common sense to use an automobile properly. But we haven’t outlawed cars yet.

We do, however, license them and their owners, restrict their use to presumably sane and sober adults and keep track of who sells them to whom. At a minimum, we should do the same with guns.

In truth, there is no rational argument for guns in this society. This is no longer a frontier nation in which people hunt their own food. It is a crowded, overwhelmingly urban country in which letting people have access to guns is a continuing disaster. Those who want guns – whether for target shooting, hunting or potting rattlesnakes (get a hoe) – should be subject to the same restrictions placed on gun owners in England – a nation in which liberty has survived nicely without an armed populace.

The argument that “guns don’t kill people” is patent nonsense. Anyone who has ever worked in a cop shop knows how many family arguments end in murder because there was a gun in the house. Did the gun kill someone? No. But if there had been no gun, no one would have died. At least not without a good footrace first. Guns do kill. Unlike cars, that is all they do.

Michael Crichton makes an interesting argument about technology in his thriller “Jurassic Park.” He points out that power without discipline is making this society into a wreckage. By the time someone who studies the martial arts becomes a master – literally able to kill with bare hands – that person has also undergone years of training and discipline. But any fool can pick up a gun and kill with it.

“A well-regulated militia” surely implies both long training and long discipline. That is the least, the very least, that should be required of those who are permitted to have guns, because a gun is literally the power to kill. For years, I used to enjoy taunting my gun-nut friends about their psycho-sexual hang-ups – always in a spirit of good cheer, you understand. But letting the noisy minority in the National Rifle Association force us to allow this carnage to continue is just plain insane.

I do think gun nuts have a power hang-up. I don’t know what is missing in their psyches that they need to feel they have to have the power to kill. But no sane society would allow this to continue.

Ban the damn things. Ban them all.

You want protection? Get a dog.

Molly Ivins (1944 – 2007)

photo by Carol Kassie

Tell it, Sister Girl.

Posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

celebrating a Texas storyteller who was a part of my women’s history

My paternal grandmother was called Ma by me and her four other grandchildren. We called her that so much even my grandfather changed from her given name Betha to calling her Ma. Ma was a wonderful storyteller who saved her best material for the small round table in her kitchen. Her audience usually consisted of me and my grandfather who, of course, became known as Pa.

One of my favorite “Ma” stories involved my grandfather’s brother Ebb and his wife Carrie. They lived in Hearne, Texas which was roughly 50 miles from our little town of Richards where my grandfather had a barbershop with one chair. Ma wasn’t very fond of Ebb because he drove all the way from Hearne to have Pa cut his hair for free, and he usually brought his horrible twin toddlers Phil and Bill. Phil and Bill also received the family discount rate of “free,” and this irritated Ma.

They’re nothing but freeloaders, George, Ma would say to my grandfather after every visit. But that’s not the story. This is.

The Methodist preacher asked Ebb and Carrie late Saturday afternoon if they would mind to put up Sunday morning’s visiting preacher at their house that Saturday night. Well this put them into a tizzy because Carrie told Ebb the house wasn’t straight and they didn’t have anything for breakfast on Sunday morning. But being the good Methodists they were, they determined to welcome the preacher and give him a place to stay.

Before the preacher came to the house, Carrie called the bad little four-year-old twins Phil and Bill to the kitchen to tell them that they were having company and she didn’t have enough food for breakfast the next morning.. They only had three eggs left so she wanted them to be sure they said no when she asked them if they wanted an egg for breakfast.

Ebb had them practice the routine Saturday afternoon.

Phil, do you want an egg for breakfast?  No, Daddy.

Bill, do you want an egg for breakfast?  No, Daddy.

The next morning came and sure enough, the preacher was sitting down at breakfast with Ebb and the twins while Carrie was making the food.

Phil, do you want an egg for breakfast? Carrie asked. No, mama, Phil replied.

Bill, do you want an egg for breakfast? Carrie asked to which Bill replied Me bweve me have fwee eggs.

And then Ma would laugh uproariously at the thought of the expression on Ebb and Carrie’s face when Bill asked for three eggs. Ma loved nothing better than capitalizing on the misfortune of others – especially if they were the part of Pa’s family that didn’t pay for their haircuts.

Honestly, Ma told the three eggs story on Ebb and Carrie for many years, and I laughed appropriately at the punch line every time she told it. So did my grandfather because he thought Ma was the funniest person who ever walked the face of the earth. I think the secret to their 65 years together was the laughter they shared at the little round kitchen table every day. He would tell who came to the barbershop that day, and Ma would be off and running on her monologue. Ma was a sit-down comic as opposed to a stand-up one.

As for me, I miss those lunches – both the food and the conversations, the love and humor. What I wouldn’t give to hear Ma tell the three eggs story again today. She was a very large part of my women’s history.

Ma and Pa

Stay tuned.

Posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged | 4 Comments

looking for a dose of hope? visit a college campus

Yesterday Pretty drove Miss Daisy (moi) to the University of South Carolina Law School to speak to a joint meeting of the Carolina Equality Alliance, the school’s LGBTQ group, and the American Constitutional Law Society about Coming Out in the Workplace.

This visit was our first opportunity to go inside the new Law School facility, and frankly, we were blown away by the sleek modern grandeur at the entrance and the high-tech classrooms lining the halls. Wow. Our tax dollars are working overtime, and the alumni’s donations must be, too. I am so thrilled to have such an impressive building on our campus.

But while the Law School building is impressive, I was much more inspired by the students themselves.

(photo courtesy of Pretty)

Most of the students were graduating in May and in the process of looking for positions, thinking about taking the bar exam in July, planning a wedding for the fall – all with equal levels of enthusiasm and anxiety. They had questions surrounding being out in the interview process, how to find employers that are welcoming, how to support friends in the role of straight ally…all very much about today and tomorrow in their lives.

Yet, they listened intently to an old lesbian reading about events that took place 30 years ago as I began by raising Harlan Greene’s question in the foreword to Southern Perspectives: Isn’t the past passed? Perhaps. Or not. Since South Carolina mines the past and thinks of it as a natural resource of sorts, we (the LGBTQ community) need to be seen in that vein.

And in that vein we looked at two women from the book who made a difference when they came out in the workplace. One of them, Deborah Hawkins, opened a lesbian bar here in Columbia in March, 1984. The bar was Traxx, and her heroic story of “making no ifs, ands, or buts” about the kind of bar it was when she opened it 34 years ago plus the challenges she faced with local authorities seemed to resonate with the listeners.

The other woman, Nekki Shutt, is a graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Law and now is a partner with two other women in her own law firm in Columbia. But her story of being inadvertently “outed” by one of her best friends (can you believe Pretty?) the week after she graduated from law school in 1995 was a story that definitely spoke to the young people who are about to be graduating themselves. To tell or not to tell. That is the question. Still…

To quote the infamous Red Man, all’s well that ends well. Pretty and I had an awesome time with these young people on the brink of embarking on their own history-making and I have great confidence that they will be a part of advancing the cause of equality in their careers – wherever they can – they will make a difference.

P.S. I also wanted to thank Harriet Hancock, Alvin McEwen, Ed Madden, Bert Easter and Tom Summers for the excellent panel presentation we had last weekend at the Deckle Edge Literary Festival. It was such fun to be a part of the Festival and always a great time to spend with some of my contributors who are terrific motivational speakers. I am so lucky to work with pioneers who continue to believe in and actively support  the cause of equality for all.


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saluting the Little Women of Worsham Street for women’s history month

March is Women’s History Month as my good friend Luanne reminded me with her post last week, and today I salute the Little Women of Worsham Street who were my special friends in the Texas years from 2010 – 2014.

Carol lived diagonally across Worsham street from me, taught me all I ever knew and learned to love about photography, played dominoes with me a lot of evenings and watched football with me on the weekends. She’s a retired school teacher who is now an antique dealer in charge of the downtown Montgomery Antique Emporium. Since I’ve been gone, she is a grandmother for a second time with real babies but continues to love and adore her fur ones that bring her as much joy as ours do for us.

Lisa lived directly across the street from me and I sat many days on our front porch at 609 Worsham in a rocking chair staring at her house that I loved, listening to her three dogs bark when the trains came through on Old Plantersville Road while she worked as a high school administrator for the Conroe Independent School District. She went to work every morning before I woke up and got home late in the afternoons…almost made me feel guilty but not quite. One of my favorite pastimes in the fall was watching her decorate for Christmas – climbing around on her roof to make sure every light was in its proper place – creating a showcase of outdoor decorations for the entire street to enjoy. Since I’ve been gone, she decided to finally retire after way too many years commuting those long hours.

Finally, my good friend Becky lived down and across the street and gave me a great reminder of how important mothers can be. Becky and her family moved to Worsham Street shortly after we did, and it wasn’t long before two-year-old Oscar had invited himself and his baby brother Dwight inside our house for a visit. I will never forget the conversations I had with Becky while we visited on the front porch in the late afternoons after the boys woke up from their nap. She and I shared a background in financial services – what were the odds of our ending up together on a quiet rural Texas street talking about our favorite female detective at the time, Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson on The Closer, after careers in the high-powered world of finance.

While I was there, Becky had a third son practically in our living room at the baby shower we had for her just hours before George was born. Talk about cutting it “close.” Brenda Leigh had nothing on Becky.

So I’m starting Women’s History Month with three of my favorite women who became friends when I was saying goodbye to the significant women in my life: my two mothers, Selma and Willie, and my favorite Aunt Lucille. These friends were steadfast in their support for me during this difficult time and displayed the love and friendship I believe only women can offer each other. I’m not sure I ever told them how grateful I was and continue to be, but this is a start.

Lisa, George, Dwight and Oscar today

walking on Worsham Street and I like to think looking back at 609

Montgomery City Councilwoman Becky with husband Gary

and the Fabulous Huss Brothers George, Oscar and Dwight (with cat)

P.S. I must never forget a fourth Little Woman of Worsham Street, Dana, who left the neighborhood but not Montgomery. She and I still continued our friendship with talks on the porch and in the kitchen even after she moved all the way across Highway 105 to Buffalo Springs.

P.S.P.S. The pictures today are courtesy of Carol Raica.




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

Harriet Hancock, Ed Madden, Alvin McEwen and Tom Summers – join us at Deckle Edge this weekend!

I am really thrilled to be with four other contributors to Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home this coming Saturday at the Deckle Edge Literary Festival in the Richland library in downtown Columbia.

Harriet Hancock, Ed Madden, Alvin McEwen, Tom Summers and I will be swapping stories from our book on a panel at 11:00 o’clock in Room 213.

For details, check out

No smiles left behind when Harriet Hancock and I spend an afternoon in her home sipping wine, reminiscing and storytelling. Looks like the woman hovering behind Harriet sipped more than she reminisced.

(Thanks to Becci Robbins for putting up with our nonsense that afternoon and for taking this photo)

My acknowledgments for Committed to Home begin with this paragraph:

My coconspirator and inspiration for this book is Harriet Hancock. I first approached Harriet about writing her personal story at a South Carolina Gay and Lesbian Business Guild Christmas party at Tom Brown’s house in December, 2013. She had an enthusiastic response, and in our subsequent conversations early in 2014, the project morphed to include the personal observations of other leaders in LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina over the past thirty years. Her interest in the project has been ongoing and always encouraging. She was helpful in the selection of the contributors.

Ed Madden, Alvin McEwen and Tom Summers were three of the six contributors who actually wrote their own essays which are distinctive in time, place and storylines but oh, so very personal and compelling. I am looking forward to sharing their stories, along with Harriet’s, during our conversation on the panel Saturday morning.

Please join us if you can!









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remembering The Red Man two years later

Many of our cyberspace friends and followers came to our home via my first blog Red’s Rants and Raves that began in 2009. The Red Man was a rescued Welsh terrier who looked at life from both sides then but always picked the right side to champion.

Two years ago this week we said goodbye to the little guy who brought us so much love. This is a re-blog from February 22, 2016.

Red and the old woman Slow

December, 2000 – February 22, 2016

It is with immeasurable pain and sorrow I must tell our Amigos and Sports Fans that the old woman Slow’s best friend and faithful companion has passed on to his reward, which Pretty and Slow both hope is a rich one.

Red spiced up our lives with his annoying barking rants and raves and endless supply of Welsh terrier energy. Nothing and no one escaped his tirades, but he saved his love for his Pack and Pretty and Slow.

He ran away from us countless times for reasons known only to him – but always ran to someone who would call us to bring him home. His escapes were remarkably injury free and equally free from remorse. We hope this final escape is his best ever.

No words can express the depth of our sadness at bringing Red’s Rants and Raves to this ending.  We understand death is inevitable, but we will miss the Spirit of The Red Man that brought us such joy and happiness and was the life of our homes on Worsham Street in Texas and at Casa de Canterbury in South Carolina. Our lives will be entirely too quiet without him.

Smokey Lonesome Ollie, Paw Licker Annie, Tennis Ball Obsessed Chelsea, Fence Jumper Spike and The Red Man will live forever in our hearts and memories as will all of our cyberspace friends who are now a part of our family. We will miss you all.

Get me outta here, Percy – and he did.


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A’ja, we hardly knew ye

Tonight Pretty and I, along with 12,000 of our closest friends, will say goodbye to Gamecock women’s basketball senior A’ja Wilson who will be playing her final regular season game at Colonial Life Arena. We are carrying plenty of tissues with us because we don’t want to see her leave us just yet. A’ja, we hardly knew ye.

A’ja Wilson has broken almost all the basketball records she could break in 4 years at the University of South Carolina, but tonight the young woman with the fabulous smile and wicked left hand will be breaking her countless fans’ hearts as she poses for senior pictures with her parents and Coach Staley before the LSU game.

My goodness, it’s hard to believe four years have passed since the teenage girl from Hopkins who went to elementary and high school right here at Heathwood Hall in Columbia began playing for Coach Staley and the Gamecocks. That shy girl who joined the team has been replaced by a young woman who is now clearly the team’s heart and soul…and fearless leader.

For those of us who have had the privilege of watching this remarkable young athlete step into the national spotlight with her superior statistics while never losing her love of her diverse fan base, exuberant dance,  sense of fun, competition and most importantly the game of basketball, we can only say thank you for the memories you leave.

We wish you well at the next level wherever that may be and know that whether you are on a basketball court or a judge on the Supreme Court, you will always be a winner.

Pretty and I will see you tonight and will wave to you from the stands. We’ll be the ones waving white towels.

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and still we wait



I have nothing.

Posted in Life, Personal, politics, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged | 12 Comments

valentine’s day…schmalentine’s day…let’s love everyday!

Our trip to Charleston last week for the College of Charleston book event was a treat on many levels, not the least of which was getting to visit with old friends we don’t see enough and meeting new friends for the first time in a diverse crowd that was fun and humming with enthusiasm. Over 60 people came out in the pouring rain to talk about Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home.

The Fab Four warming up…or something like that…

Panelist/Contributor Linda Ketner listens intently

to young person with questions following discussion

(while I sign books for a student)

Contributor Warren Redman-Gress (l.) and Harlan Greene

It was fun to finally meet Harlan Greene in person after months of emails. Harlan wrote the Foreword for Committed to Home, and we have discovered we share a common passion for the preservation of our community’s history. He is a really cool guy.

Warren is a friend of many years who came to South Carolina with his husband Jim from Long Island, New York. Their story of love, activism in our state and overcoming great odds to adopt their son Cristopher 18 years ago is an inspiring one in the book. Happy Valentine’s Day to one of my favorite couples!

And Happy Valentine’s Day to all our friends in cyberspace from Pretty and me – let’s love each other everyday.

Stay tuned.

(photos courtesy of Beth Huntley and Teresa Williams)



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