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Dobson, Imus, Va. Tech situations invite a deeper conversation...Two Women & a Poodle say, "It's about time!"
Apr 26, 2007

Live Authentic...Whatever It Takes
Inspiring the Power of ONE in each of us
to access and impact the
Power in ALL of Us
as we transform ourselves and our world, one person at a time

You can't hate someone whose story you know.

The tiniest story in your life can deeply touch another.

You cannot know the effect your story might have.”--Sark
In this newsletter Update:
  1. Dobson, Imus & Va. Tech--inviting a deeper conversation
  2. Blog your feedback!
  3. Speaking your mind - The Implicit Association Test
  4. Stand UP Speak OUT Wind Changers - Coach Vivian Stringer & the Rutgers' Women's Basketball Team
  5. Wedding announcement
  6. Oregon travels
    -Southridge High School GSA in Beaverton, Oregon
    This was the first GSA we spoke at on our GISA journey
    -Equality Riders confront George Fox University
    -Bend, Oregon
    Radio show on KPOV and speaking at PFLAG
  7. Telling your story
  8. In the News

1. Dobson, Imus & Virginia Tech situations - inviting a deeper conversation

The essence of our journey has been demonstrated through various events in society over the last few weeks…we must use our Power of One to access and impact the Power in All of US to move beyond hate, not just toward “tolerance,” but toward celebration of the humanity within each of us. The time is NOW!

When we hate others, they control us. We refuse to allow that to be our path. We recently heard Brother Jamal Rahim, a Muslim Sufi. His words were profound as he reminded us, “Whoever’s approval you seek, imprisons you. Choose your jailer with care and deliberation.” He said that Islam means “surrendering to God in peace,” and that every soul where you turn is the face of God. We hope that we each take this opportunity to turn and truly take in one another's essence.

One T-shirt we saw at Southridge High School (when we spoke at their GSA) inspires us. It was to be worn at their Day of Silence.

Dr. Dobson & our arrest at Focus on the Family...
The comments from folks have continued. From friends to people we have never met, we have received feedback. This is an important discussion, because clarification and understanding regarding "why" we chose to take the action is necessary. One friend wrote,

Well ladies ....I hate to break this to you, but with Dr. Dobson, you are screaming at the deaf. Click here to read what else she had to say, in addition to our response and other related info...all in our blog!

Dobson & Imus - Is there any difference? Imus lost his career. Dr.James Dobson still has his.

Connect the dots. Both spew toxic rhetoric that is erroneous, and harms and vilifies people. Imus’ career received the death sentence. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, receives a national media platform. Follow the details in our blog entry, What's the difference between Imus & Dr. Dobson?

Virginia Tech - Like the rest of the world, we were shocked beyond words. It has been so horrific to come face to face with the images of these young people and professors, in addition to the killer. Understanding lost dreams and the pain of their families can only be imagined. It was important to have the stories of the victims shared with us. Our question is: Why not give the same public coverage to those killed daily in Iraq? Would it become so obvious of the impossibility because of the enormous number of individuals lost each and every day? It would make this war more "real" in the sense that we wouldn't so easily be able to "forget." Hearing about these people, who put their lives on the line, would keep us from becoming desensitized to the ongoing killing. Perhaps it would also make it more difficult for our government to stick to their "We are winning" attitude when we are clearly not moving forward. The students and faculty were victims, though there were some heroes among them. One professor, Liviu Librescu, who survived the Holocaust, was senselessly killed as he put his body in front of the door to protect students. He epitomizes what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "If you have never found something so dear and so precious to you that you will die for it, then you aren't fit to live." Librescu found that...his students. The majority who were killed were victims of this tragic crime. The heroes are those left behind who are willingly putting their lives in harm's way, even if they are doing so in a war in which we find irrationally conceived and continued. There is a lot for us to learn.

2. Blog your feedback!

Blogging...It's here to stay. We are going to be blogging more of the nitty gritty details, rather than including them in the body of our newsletters. Why? Blogging is the real way to have conversations with people in a virtual way. We are committed to authentic connections created through deeper conversations. Our intention is to connect with YOU, as well as with people all over the world. We want to have more interaction and feedback with YOU that is shared with others, rather than emailed to us. It puts THE DEEPER CONVERSATIONS right there at our fingertips, enabling us to create these authentic connections together. We plan to take our blog to a whole new level with audio and video in the future. Will you help us by signing up for our blog?

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3. Speaking Your Mind - The Implicit Association Test

It is well known that people don't always 'speak their minds', and it is suspected that people don't always 'know their minds'. Understanding such divergences is important to scientific psychology. With recent events, we hope you will find this Harvard website of interest. It presents a method that demonstrates the conscious-unconscious divergences much more convincingly than has been possible with previous methods. This new method is called the Implicit Association Test, or IAT for short.

Although a variety of topics are offered, a couple of tests might be of particular interest considering some recent events.

Sexuality ('Gay - Straight' IAT). This IAT requires the ability to distinguish words and symbols representing gay and straight people. It often reveals an automatic preference for straight relative to gay people.
Race ('Black - White' IAT). This IAT requires the ability to distinguish faces of European and African origin. It indicates that most Americans have an automatic preference for white over black.

4. New Stand UP Speak OUT Wind Changers

Coach Vivian Stringer and Rutgers' Women's Basketball Team are our newest honorees.

Coach Stringer's statement is a model for us all.
In fact, we used it to craft our own statement that we hope to one day read, with both the public and media offering their full attention with a listening ear. We aspire for this statement to lead to a deeper conversation in our society about homophobia and homonegativity, just as Coach Stringer's did about racism and heterosexism.

They also showed grace and class by accepting the apology of Imus after an in-person meeting with him and his wife. “We, the Rutgers University Scarlet Knight basketball team, accept — accept — Mr. Imus’ apology, and we are in the process of forgiving.”

“We still find his statements to be unacceptable, and this is an experience that we will never forget,” she said. “These comments are indicative of greater ills in our culture,” Stringer said. “It is not just Mr. Imus, and we hope that this will be and serve as a catalyst for change. Let us continue to work hard together to make this world a better place.”

5. Wedding announcement

No, we didn't marry a fourth time; however, our wedding announcement in the Bellingham Herald finally came out for our November 23, 2007, wedding in Canada. There's always something to celebrate!

6. Oregon travels include gathering with Equality Riders, speaking at Southridge High School in Beaverton and speaking at PFLAG in Bend

As we prepared the Scotty for yet another journey, Roby tested the water, only to discover a ruptured water heater. When she pulled it out, she discovered rotted wood. Several hundred dollars and days of labor later, she tested the gas line, and found a leak.

How it looked when Roby removed the water heater that had ruptured, and pulled up the rotten wood & insulation

Is there anything Roby can't do in that Scotty trailer?!! She's amazing!

Equality Ride - Fixing everything caused us to be delayed by a day, causing us to miss standing witness as the Equality Riders visited George Fox University. We did, however, get to do a podcast with Haven Herrin, one of the co-directors of the Equality Ride, as well as meet some of them at their hotel. Participants are divided into an east and a west bus. They are engaging students, faculty, and administrators in conversation about the damaging effects of homophobic doctrine, the false notion that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender identities are sick and sinful.

Haven & Dotti during podcast - will be posted in our next newsletter

Southridge High GSA-With our problems with the Scotty, we pushed to get on the road. It caused us to arrive late at Southride High School, but a few committed students waited an hour! We plan to go back and speak at another time. Esther and Tom are doing an amazing job with this GSA.

Some of the students underneath the banner, still hanging in their classroom, that inspired the opening of each of our newsletters:
You can't hate someone whose story you know.

(L-R) Dotti, Esther (GSA sponsor), & Roby

Students were doing their own personal Day Of Silence T-shirts.
This was a great one.

We left the GSA meeting and headed to the home of our hosts for the evening, a gay couple we had never met! Kevin Putnam and Jamal were wonderful. We met Kevin's sister, Kim, and her husband, Brian, at a real estate investing conference in Sacramento in February. Kim put us in touch with the guys. Unfortunately, Jamal left for work the next morning before we took a picture. Kevin assured us that it wouldn't be the last time we see them.

Bend, Oregon-Before speaking at PFLAG, we did a radio interview with Aylett Wright, Communication, Education & Training Coordinator for Planned Parenthood. She offers a weekly show, Ask Aylett, on KPOV, 106.3 FM. It is a show that offers a frank discussion about sexuality for young and old, with Aylett offering sound advice, informative studies and engaging dialogue. We will post that interview in our next newsletter.

(L-R) Alyett, Dotti & Roby

We were blessed with an energic group at the PFLAG meeting. Thanks Becky for inviting us! The day before we spoke, a woman drove up in the parking lot and inquired, "What is Two Women & a Poodle?" After we explained, she invited us in for lunch with a friend of hers as their treat at the Indian restaurant. We met Julie & Jo. Although Julie had another engagement, Jo surprised us by being at the PFLAG meeting, and giving us one of her CD's for the road! Great bluegrass music...just the kind we love.

Rylee Joy is the deal! She loves the speaking engagements, especially with her new rainbow party collar. Someone always gives her a nice rub.

8. Telling your story

We were blessed to have met Tina Rogers while in Bend, Oregon. She was our hostess, providing not only food and shelter, but warmth and compassion and a sensitive spirit all in the same environment. Having gone through a divorce from her minister husband in 2006, she embraced a part of herself that she had cast away. Coming full circle, she shared the following words:

To say 2006 was great would be a lie. To say that 2006 was a tough year would be an understatement. To say that it was the worst year of my life would be more accurate, but I would lose the lessons if that is all I said. So I have come to the conclusion that 2006 was the year of Lost and Found.

Lost my marriage. Found my heart.
Lost my church. Found God.
Lost most of my friends. Found out who the real friends are.
Lost my home. Found self sufficiency.
Lost my mind. Found inner strength.
Lost my identity. Found myself.
Lost my community. Found a stronger, compassionate, thinking one.
Lost my security. Found peace.
Lost everything. Found the world.

Life is a great teacher if we will look for the lessons.

Today is the day of resolving to do things that we probably won't do. So I resolve not to make empty resolutions. But this is what 2007 holds for me.
I will laugh, I will cry, I will love, I will suffer, I will win, I will loose, I will loose, I will find, I will breathe and embrace it all because I am alive.

Dotti, Roby & Rylee Joy with Tina

We thank Tina for allowing us to share her words with you. Being honest with oneself and others is what we are told is important. And it is. But being honest in the face of people constantly trying to silence us is bold. Today, as a single woman, she moved forward with grace and dignity.

Tina emailed us after our visit. With her permission, we share her insightful writing with you. Don't miss what happened the day we left! It is an amazing story.

Model Tina's authenticity...Commit to NAC (Natural Authentic Connection!)

We also received an email from Carmen Okhmatovski in northern Minnesota. With her permission, we share what she wrote:

(Note: You can read her note in its entirety by clicking here.)

One part said, "I'm writing you these details because this February when I received the SoulForce newsletter in which they reported your sit-in at Focus on the Family, I was so touched by viewing the videos and reading the articles. Watching your courage, your willingness to endure what you did for the sake of others, for the sake of spanning the gap, I was moved to tears. Seeing the love that is so evident between you, and the courage and serenity with which you faced something that would have been one of my very worst fears because of what Dr. Dobson and FOTF represents, was not only an inspiration to me, but also stirred my soul and caused me to take a good look at what I was attemtping to do to myself. It moved me so deeply, and I heard myelf mutter "You're never going to be able to do this, you know!" meaning that I could only "fake it" for so long. You reminded me of the beauty and blessing in being the exact person that I am. And it gave me hope for myself, yet.

And so I wanted to write and thank you for your sit-in, for allowing it to be made public, for your courage and the hope that you spread...for your example."

And the connections continue...

After writing back to Carmen, we discovered that she had been lead to our website by a link that Tina (our hostess in Bend, Oregon) had posted to a lesbian group to which they both belong. She said she immediately recognized us as the women that she'd read about and seen in the Soulforce newsletter. Amazing!

From Bend to other parts of Oregon...

We left Bend, and headed to Depoe Bay for a few days of R & R, using a time share that we own.

Our family on the beach

Rylee Joy on the beach...poetry in motion!

From Depoe bay, we traveled to Eugene, Oregon, where we met friends Kathi & Pam Buss Sherrill at the home of Pam's parents, Emily & Bob. The most amazing thing happened on that Saturday morning. Bob told Pam he wanted to see "Coach" (that's Dotti). That morning, we had shared stories of our year long journey with Bob, a retired assistant principal. When I met him in the kitchen, he held out some money, saying he wanted to help with our gas. Well, we were speechless. We knew that Pam's parents were quietly supportive of her relationship, but this was consciously stepping out in a new way.

9. In the News! (lots of it!)

Do you recall Al Mohler's remarks from the second part of our last newsletter?

The Equality Riders re-routed to do a sit-in at his office, demanding a public apology of his statements. Key to what they found disturbing was Mohler's obvious support of eugenics when he wrote in his blog:

"If a biological basis is found, and if a prenatal test is then developed, and if a successful treatment to reverse the sexual orientation to heterosexual is ever developed, we would support its use as we should unapologetically support the use of any appropriate means to avoid sexual temptation and the inevitable effects of sin."

For Some Black Pastors, Accepting Gay Members Means Losing Others - This article in the New York Times shows how some are making the connection between all oppression.

Here's another black pastor who "gets it." The United Methodist Church is an accomplice in the spiritual and physical violence GLBT Americans are experiencing today. That is how Gilbert Caldwell, a heterosexual, African-American man who retired as a United Methodist minister in 2001, sees it. “We are accomplices through our silence on these issues,” he said from his home in Denver, where he busies himself championing civil rights for GLBT Americans.Gilbert Caldwell

As you will see from what Rev. Ken Hutcherson is doing, not all black pastors are "getting the connection" that shares a common thread with racism.

“This Is War,” Anti-Gay American Preacher Hutcherson Tells Europe

A view of the historical archives of the Human Rights Campaign. This online exhibit (through Cornell University) traces 25 yers of Gay-rights struggles.

Click here for an amazing and comprehensive list of the collective writings and videos of Gandhi

Wayne Besen speaks the plain truth about the "Mathew Shepard Act" Hate Crimes Bill.

Pas de Deux of Sexuality Is Written in the Genes (New York Times, April 10, 2007)

Live Authentic...Whatever It Takes!

Every journey begins with a bold move, and every bold move is a journey.
As we continue to make changes in our lives and grow toward our highest selves,
we are transforming the world.
--Two Women & a Poodle, Dotti Berry, Robynne Sapp & Rylee Joy

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