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Celebrating “I DO” in 50 States!

Published June 27, 2015 by Maryanne

gay marriageVictory!

Hooray! Now everyone has the right to get married in all 50 states! It’s certainly something to be celebrated, as all my friends are doing so on Face Book. It’s thrilling to see all the positivity for something that was long overdue!

I’ve always been a supporter of gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender rights. In fact, on my first Valentine’s Day with my husband, when we were still dating, we went to a rally for gay marriages. We wanted to be the straight couple that showed our support.

Over the years as a reporter, I was always determined to write pro-gay articles. That said, it was a thrill to be on the set of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” — one of my favorite shows back in the day.

QueerEye2Me and Kyan Douglas on the set of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” (2004)

Now as an author, I’m able to continue to respect in written word via books. In my first fiction book, “Love Cats” I created a gay character, Heather, who falls hard for the main character Janey, who is bisexual. There’s a lesbian love scene between them.

back cover proof CORRECTLove Cats (back and front cover)

My upcoming book “The Gypsy Smiled” is much more tame (rated PG) and I still put in a lesbian character to support and respect the gay/lesbian community.

Everyone deserves the right to live their lives as they feel most comfortable. Even if we don’t understand, the best we can do is to love and be a friend — that is how you learn. And always allow others to be safe around us.

Always remember, we are all human beings.

CONGRATULATIONS TO

ALL MY GAY/LESBIAN FRIENDS AND ACQUAINTANCES!

“Love Cats” can be purchased on Amazon, available in paperback and on Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00YBGVJQS/

In Support of Bruce Jenner and Transgender Community

Published May 22, 2015 by Maryanne

Bruce-JennerBruce Jenner (Photo swiped from Google)

Last night I watched the Bruce Jenner Special with Diane Sawyer with great interest and compassion.

In my career as a journalist I’ve interviewed many transgendered people over the years. In fact, I’d be the first to volunteer to write the articles as my way of showing support and enlightening the public on a very sensitive topic. One of the most significant things I’ve ever done in my life was writing the article “Transgendered People, Transgendered Lives” for The Montclair Times. In my research I’ve interviewed many transgendered people, both male to female and female to male. One of the most touching stories was from a mother who had a transgendered child (male to female). Her daughter was young, only in her 20s when she made the full transition. She was living in California and very happy, and in love and engaged, when she got killed in a car accident. The mother thanked me several times for the article (as Montclair is more of a township than a city and we’ve run into each other a bit over the years).

Prior to my support of the transgender community at Montclair Times, I interviewed a very famous transgendered celebrity for a body modification magazine called “In the Flesh.” (Though for some reason the article didn’t run in “In the Flesh” and a local music magazine picked it up instead). That celebrity was Jayne County, a punk rock singer who was formerly known as Wayne County (and the Electric Chairs) — and I was a fan. Jayne spoke to me very candidly about her operation (nose job, breast job, but she still kept her penis because she shared that her psychologist said she wasn’t mentally ready for that yet).

maryanne and jayne countyMe (left) and Jayne County, early 1990s

(Photo by Diane McGowan)

According to the Diane Sawyer interview, about 80 percent of people have gay friends, but only eight percent know a transgendered person. I knew many and was close enough to two to have them in my home (one who met my mom at an Elvis impersonator show) and a third, a much older male to female (probably Bruce Jenner’s age) who I went to parties and shopping in NYC with.

Living in harmony with transgendered people was so easy and natural for me. They were always around and they were fabulous. At parties, night clubs, dress shops (I used to buy most of my party clothes at a place called “Dressing for Pleasure” that catered to transgenders by carrying larger sized shoes) and even in my own back yard. Yes, in my own back yard! One evening, when I was still single and living alone in an apartment complex, a woman named “Debbie” was hanging out with my neighbors. Debbie was transgendered and she took a special liking to me. Debbie wanted to be like everyone else and have what everyone else has: love, acceptance and a place to feel secure in her own skin. Debbie shared that she was looking for a place to live where she could be accepted. We encouraged her to move into our complex. My neighbors and I accepted Debbie with open arms and she was always welcome to come talk to us. Then she mysteriously disappeared and we never knew what became of her. I do hope we were able to make her just a little happy in that short time, knowing she had cool people who really liked her.

In more recent years, a transgendered woman approached me to tell her story in book form. I was eager to get started. This woman was on Oprah Winfrey sharing her story. We never did get started and I’m guessing it could have been a money issue. Her name was Denise and I’m sure I still have her photo hanging around on my hard drive as I did promote her upcoming book in one of my newsletters.

I suppose by Law of Attraction, the universe put transgendered people in my path because it was a safe place for them, as I’ve always been loving and accepting. I learned a lot in the early 1990s when I read a book called, “All She Wanted” by Aphrodite Jones. It was the devastating story of a female to male transgender, who went by Teena Brandon and was brutally murdered, motivated by trans-homophobia. The story was later on a movie called “Boys Don’t Cry” starring Hillary Swank (who I met at a charity function around the same time she received her well deserved Academy Award). “Boys Don’t Cry” was one of my favorite movies, but I could only watch it once because it was so horrific. Just thinking of Teena’s tragic story makes me cry like a baby. It was because of that book, that I sought out transgenders and the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender community during my time as a journalist and wanted to write articles to help and support (as well as attend rallies, the gay parade in NYC and Wigstock).

Everyone deserves the right to live their lives as they feel most comfortable. Even if we don’t understand, the best we can do is to love and be a friend — that is how you learn. And always allow others to be safe around us.

Always remember, we are all human beings.

In closing, here are some transgender FAQ from GLAAD: http://www.glaad.org/transgender/transfaq

The Gentle Vegetarian

Published April 29, 2012 by Maryanne

The other day a Jewish acquaintance offered me some popcorn.

I asked him, “Is it kosher?”

He thought I was “testing” him.

“Oh no,” I said. “Not at all. I just don’t eat cheese unless it’s rennet-less and some popcorn has cheese.”

And this led to a great discussion on why I don’t eat rennet.

I’ve been a vegetarian since 1986. I haven’t consumed meat or wore fur since then. And 10 years later I stopped buying products that have been tested on animals. And two years after that I stopped wearing leather. And finally, I gave up fish a few weeks ago.

When my new friend asked me how I felt about others consuming meat or wearing animal products, I told him that I’m a humanitarian type and believe that everyone does what is right for themselves. I do not judge people, nor do I preach.

I was commended for my attitude. And I said, “Yeah, I’m probably the one vegetarian that doesn’t respect a lot of them.”

It’s sad when something you stand for has a bad rap. People get turned off by “preachers” and I don’t blame them. We’re all adults and nobody wants to hear what they are doing is unethical. Or not compassionate. By nature, we like to believe we’re good people, doing our best in life.

Some food for thought here …. I know meat eaters who give their pets the most loving homes you can imagine and do the most wonderful things for the animal shelters. I also know a vegan — and FORMER friend of mine — who I caught kicking my cat! Not to mention all the vegans who won’t even have pets because you have to feed them meat. (Yeah, it’s gross, but you can’t argue with the food chain.)

Being a mere “vegetarian” but not a vegan will always have me in an awkward spot. Meat eaters will think I’m secretly judging them and The Cult of Vegan will be on the defense, ready to argue and bitch slap me because I eat cage-free eggs and rennet-less cheese.

For the record, I tried being vegan many times during my history of vegetarianism. Whenever I hit the eight-month mark of being vegan, I get horrible backaches and dizzy spells. As soon as I start eating eggs or rennet-less cheese again, I feel so much better. And unless there is a vegan out there (please raise your hand) who wants to lovingly assist me every step of the way  in being vegan without jeopardizing my health, please keep your fat mouth shut!

And speaking of “trying,” there was even a time in my life where I was so into the vegan lifestyle, I considered a career at PETA. I flew out to their headquarters in Norfolk, Va. one long weekend to be interviewed by PETA president, Ingrid Newkirk. Mind you I ended up being so turned off I didn’t last the entire weekend and spent an extra $75 to catch an early flight home. And I never did meet Ingrid Newkirk — which is probably a good thing.

First turn off was that only the house mother was allowed to have a cat. Had I relocated, I wouldn’t be able to take my two beloved cats! But I wasn’t told this before I booked my trip! Imagine, doing work for the biggest animal rights group in the USA and not being able to have an animal yourself! That to me is just absurd! Where would I put my cats? My cats are my babies and they go where I go!

PETA didn’t offer any suggestions or help.

The next red flag was the bathroom. Not only was it a pigsty, but I noticed many products that were known for testing on animals (Bic razors for one!) Can we say “hypocrites?”

I don’t want this blog entry to be an anti-PETA rant. However, my point is that when I tell people I am vegetarian, I do not want to be lumped in with those who exhibit disgusting, hateful, tunnel-visioned judgmental behavior.

Another issue I have with vegans and their militant ways is that they do not want to team up with anyone else unless they are 100 percent like-minded.

To me, that doesn’t do anything for society. However, if you hook up with someone who does opposite of you, you can always present an opportunity for change. It’s a sweet challenge!

One time I was bickering on a message board with a bunch of vegans who insisted they wouldn’t date meat eaters because meat eaters don’t “taste as good as vegetarians.” A vegetarian  lesbian who didn’t mind dating meat eaters piped up and said, “I never met a woman who didn’t taste good!” Touche!

My friend Stephanie is a vegetarian and her boyfriend isn’t. But she inspired him to eat meatless meals for six months out of the year! You go girl! That — to me — says so much more than any preaching ever will. She simply inspired him by her good cooking and positive attitude.

Like myself, she is a GENTLE VEGETARIAN!

So in conclusion, while I am not judging (just expressing my distaste for an extreme stereotype that I’ve encountered more times that I can stomach) I wish, in return, not to be judged myself.

If you’re a meat eater reading this, please don’t assume all vegetarians are going to start picking on you for eating meat (and also don’t assume that all we eat is grass — try some real vegetarian cooking, you may be pleasantly surprised).

And if you’re a vegan, please don’t judge me for not being not 100 percent there yet. Someday I may be, you just never know! (Nor will anyone else know because unless they ask or it comes up in conversation, I’m not going to shove it in their faces!)