PRIDE BECOMES FACT AS GAY BCOMES FULLY MAINSTREAM

photo (37)^ fully mainstream and fully appreciated : Mayor Marty Walsh with drag troupe on Boston Pride Day

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In Massachusetts at least, gay, lesbian, and transgender people — once a separate category stamped “LGBT” — have become fully mainstream. A Pride parade featuring same sex couples, lesbians on bikes, and beautiful trannys, is now a family day like any other parade. At the Salem parade yesterday I saw trannys with their parents, one pretty tranny had her nine year old daughter in tow (see the photo). Every elected official in the City was either at the parade or at the “Pride flag” raising a month ago.

It’s the same in Boston. There, Pride week featured a drag show, after which Mayor Walsh posed with the troupe for a photo op.

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^ beautiful tranny Kelly with her proudly beaming young daughter

But the story that says it all comes from Salem. Yesterday, openly gay ward 4 City councillor David Eppley (see photo) told of how, knocking doors in last year’s city election, he introduced himself to an 80-year old lady at her door only to have that elderly woman say to him, “oh yes ! I’m voting for you. i met your husband at the polls in September !”

Just like that.

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^ Salem City Councillor David Eppley (with Paisley Rojagato)

That gay, lesbian, and transgender people now know that they are filly accepted as neighbors, friends, partners, citizens, even elected officials, is a terrific thing for our community as a state. Because after all, people are people no matter what sort of gender or sexual preference life they lead. Gay, lesbian, and transgender people are parents, citizens, community volunteers — everything that anybody else is. And the people of Massachusetts have embraced it fully.

It seems so simple now, so obvious. But thirty years ago, for trans people, is wasn’t obvious, it wasn’t even thinkable. For gays, the same ostracism fifty years ago.

You don’t have to go back that far, though. Just ten years ago it was hugely controversial for Massachusetts to enact a marriage equality law. The spew of toxic hate leveled at gay people during that debate was sickening to see, to hear, to feel. A referendum was demanded, and only narrowly did the legislature refuse to offer one, siding with marriage equality supporters who said, correctly, that “our civil rights are not a matter of majority vote !”

Even more recently — just two, three, four years ago — an even more disgusting barrage of hate was shot at trans people testifying at the legislature’s hearings on a transgender rights law. One Kris Mineau, a name for us all to remember as we remember segregationists and anti-Semites, led a pressure group that captured the votes of 32 of 33 GOP house members in opposing the transgender rights law that was enacted. that same 32 even wrote an open letter to the Governor asking that the new law not be enforced.

The hate did not end there. this winter our state’s GOP state committee adopted a platform — the vote was reportedly 56 to 12 — affirming “traditional marriage.’ Of transgender rights, it said nothing : because the state committee does not accord trans people any such rights.

Yes, the Chairman of the state GOP, Kirsten Hughes, rejected the platform. And Charlie Baker and Karyn Polito, running for governor and lieutenant governor, have made it known in the most definite words and ways available, their full embrace, legally and otherwise, of gay, lesbian, and trans people. Yet it was depressing that Baker and Polito felt the need to do so — though clearly they did have to.

But things in this arena have changed almost day by day. Six months ago, a gay GOP candidate was thought bold simply to be openly gay. Now, Richard Tisei, running for Congress in the 6th District, posts a campaign ad featuring his husband, Bernie Starr. Tisei stole the show at Salem Go out Loud’s equality Forum on Friday night — how could he not ? And in attendance were GOP activists long known to me, men and women who would not that long ago have avoided such a venue for such a purpose.

The state’s GOP is even becoming trans friendly. It helps that there is at least one totally public trans person among its activists. I think, in fact, that the smartest GOP activists are glad to know that their ranks include a public tranny. They know that today inclusion is the dynamic, trans the thing to be — Laverne Cox of “Orange Is the New black” really has tipped the point; but this point had already been surging even without her, as drag shows become the rage — drag kids the fad — in every city, town, suburb, and burg of our state.

Gender and sexual preference remain huge issues for people living with them; but today they’re no more a matter for legal or social exclusion than a teenager’s acne or a young adult’s loss of a limb or lung. We’ve learned to live with people as they are, not just as they are supposed to be; and that’s a good thing, a very VERY good thing indeed.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

SO FAR SO GOOD :MAYOR WALSH’s ALL OUT FIGHT AGAINSTSUBSTANCE ABUSE

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^ it’s personal to him ; Mayor Walsh goes all out against substance abuse in the city

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If there’s one thing that newly installed Mayor Marty Walsh is doing really, really right, it’s his all-out attack on the scourge of substance abuse. A new policy paper issued by Walsh’s office tells the whole story, in this link :

http://next.cityofboston.gov/post/84249639798/improving-addiction-and-recovery-services

It’s hardly a new issue for Walsh. It is personal for him. He himself is a recovered substance abuser, and, at the very first “Mondays With Marty” that I attended, way back in mid-summer of his Mayor campaign, he made a statement that stuck with me : “there is heroin epidemic in Boston .”

I believed him because he had seen it.

We all know that substance abuse threatens to overwhelm communities; to snuff out many, many lives; to disable many more; to make employment difficult and family life all but impossible; and, thus, to over-burden the state’s already overtaxed DCF agency.

Make no mistake : you don’t like how DCF has been doing its job ? Then do something about our State’s substance abuse epidemic. Because until that wave is conquered, DCf will have far more families to intervene with than it can handle on the best of days.

Mayor Walsh has taken several worthy steps, as set forth in the link above, including equipping all first responders with the overdose antidote known as Narcan; holding drug abuse forums in neighborhoods across the city; and sponsoring take-backs of expired medicines. all that is needed now is for the public to know about them. Very few people attended a recent substance abuse forum in Jackson Square that I was at, and the people who did attend seemed more community activists than abusers or family members of abusers.

the people who need to be reached don’t easily come go substance abuse forums…

Still, the push back against substance abuse has started now. To that push I would recommend to Mayor Walsh the following initiatives :

1.make sure that substance abuse info forums are well publicized, on social media and with copious fliers at street level

2.co-ordinate with DCF, so that the families most impacted by substance abuse can receive help from city health workers as well as from DCF people

3.just as Mayor Kevin White hired Youth Workers, to meet with youth in socially vulnerable neighborhoods and support them, hire neighborhood workers specific briefed to intervene in the lives of drug abusers and their families — it being as much a public health problem as a public safety issue

4.co-ordinate all these efforts with the City’s public school staffs.

5.expand, promote, and support city sports programs. it’s my experience that kids involved in sports are less likely to take a bad path

6.because substance abuse isn’t only a youth issue — many abusers are 25 to 40 years old, co-ordinate intervention and outreach initiatives with neighborhood health centers, churches and mosques, community houses, and gyms.

7.Regularly convene meetings of the top staffs of all the institutions and organizations I’ve mentioned, to exchange ideas and to report both progress and failures.

Winning the fight against substance abuse will take many, many years of all-out commitment by many, many organizations as well as concerned citizens. I probably shouldn’t even say ‘winning,’ because the problem is world wide and cannot be extinguished by efforts merely local. But a sustained and ubiquitous local effort can definitely cut the substance abuse epidemic way, way back within one committed city.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

MAGOV14 : STRENGTHS OF THE CHARLIE BAKER ARGUMENT

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It doesn’t show in the polls, but Charlie Baker’s argument for why he should be the governor is a very strong one. He made that quite clear when he spoke last night to 200 people gathered at a fundraiser in his home town of Swampscott.

He spoke about great schools : “a school in which the principal has autonomy to direct the school is a great school. I saw just such a school in New Bedford. A standard school but with an excellent principal. It’s a level one school — top 20 percent performing. Why can’t we do this everywhere ? We need to leverage the strengths that are already have.”

Giving managerial autonomy to school principals is the core reform that Boston “interim’ superintendent John McDonough has put in place. It’s a reform that almost everybody supports. Baker is the first governor candidate who I have heard address this issue.

He spoke about state owned land. “There’s so much unused state-owned land in boston. Why can’t we develop it ? There are three high cost barriers to development in Boston : permitting, labor, and the land. Mayor Walsh is fixing the permitting. Labor will always be expensive. But why must the state have to make a profit on the land ? Let’s sell it low cost and develop affordable housing. It helps the City’s tax rolls and brings life to land where there was none.”

He spoke about local aid. “We cheat the cities and towns when we withhold local aid. 500 million dollars has been cut. As governor I’ll make sure that all the local aid fund goes to communities, because that’s how you build great communities. And so far I’m the only governor candidate who has made this pledge.”

You will notice what Baker did not say. Nothing about too high taxes, nothing about small government, nothing but cities, city issues, city problems.

Baker also laid down this challenge : “Both Karyn (Polito, his running mate) and I have long experience of local and state government; she in the legislature, me in the executive; and both of us have long experience in private business. No one running can match us. No one brings to this job what we do !”

He’s right. The Democratic candidates for Lieutenant Goverbor, especially, albeit well-meaning citizens, fall way short of Polito’s ten years in the legislature and service as a town selectman. Nor have any of Democratic candidates for governor, not even Don Berwick, anything like the wide-ranging experience that Baker can claim.

The Swampscott audience — all kinds and ages of people, too — loved Baker’s speech.

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^ Baker’s running mate, former Shrewsbury State Rep Karyn Polito

So what does Baker’s Swampscott pronouncement say about his chances of election ? It says a lot.

Right now he polls 30 to 32 percent of the vote; his chief potential November opponents poll an average of 37 and 49 per cent. These are daunting numbers; baker will be campaigning uphill all the way to election day. yet if he can stick to his current message, addressing city problems to city voters in a city way — and adding his quite forward ideas on technology transformation of state administration — he has a path to victory.

It may be his only path to victory. It is also exactly what the next governor needs to make his priority, his commitment, his work to accomplish. Because it is in the cities of our state that the future is being talked out, decided, and made.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere