Hey Beautiful! Yes, I’m talking to you!

Happy Pride!  It’s time to celebrate our diversity!

When we are proud of who we are, and the beautiful beings Spirit created us to be, not only are we fabulous, we are irresistible!That’s right whatever our sexual orientation, gender, race, color, creed, body size or shape, we are beautiful and equally worthy of life’s goodness.

So, take pride in your unique beauty and the way you light up the world with your unique gifts, talents and essence.

This isn’t always easy. I know. As a gender diverse individual, I sometimes fall prey to comparing myself to others and struggle with recognizing my own unique beauty too. Times like these I have to stop and turn down the volume on that mean 8th grade girl that lives in my head and judges me and turn the self-love up.

And please don’t waste your time resisting other people’s judgement or nastiness, because what we resist persists. Instead, just tune into your self-love and pump up the volume. Take pride in you!

Below you will find links to my interviews on Understanding LGBTQ and Coming Out and the recent advances for same-sex Marriage in Taiwan with Apple Daily, an International Chinese Media Outlet reaching thousands of Chinese people around the world!
xoxo
Davina

Congratulations Taiwan!

 

 

It Didn’t Seem Like Much At The Time

It didn’t seem like much at the time.

I saw a flyer taped to a light pole on 19th and Castro in San Francisco. It said something about a forum on same-sex marriage. It was 1999. I’ve always been politically aware and involved and told my then wife, Molly, of my intention to attend. She had guests visiting from out of town, her ex-girlfriend, had come to stay with us and brought her current girlfriend.

Molly dropped me off at the Harvey Milk school in the Castro and they went off to brunch. I walked in, backpack slung over my shoulder, and took a seat in the 7th grade classroom.

There were a handful of guys, two of them were school teachers, Tom Henning and Brian Davis. Tom spoke about getting signatures for a pro-marriage equality ballot initiative which was interesting because Senator Pete Knight had created a ballot initiative to pass a law taking away same-sex marriage rights should same-sex marriage be legalized in any other state.

I picked up some literature and a few copies of the petition for people to sign and we walked to the corner of 19th and Castro with an ironing board and officially started signature gathering for same-sex marriage. No one was particularly interested in signing the petition. Two hours later Molly picked me up.

“How was it?” she asked.
“Interesting,” I said, always my standard reply. “I’m going to start gathering signatures.”

I’m sure her ivory tower ex-girlfriend made some remark about the patriarchal institution of marriage. I didn’t care. I knew real rights for real people trumped academic deconstructionism.

It didn’t seem like much at the time, but going to that meeting was the catalyst for becoming a pioneer in the marriage equality movement. That meeting was followed by years of personally engaging in signature gathering, marriage equality conversations with thousands of people, public forums, marriage license counter requests, demonstrations, a marriage equality bus tour across the U.S., a marriage equality rally at the U.S. Capitol, two published books Why you should give a damn about gay marriage and Love Warriors, multiple documentaries, countless radio, TV, and news interviews, and 16 years later marriage equality across the country in June 2015. One meeting can change the course of your life. Following one intuitive hunch can launch a thousand steps in your life. Following your heart can take you places you never dreamed of going.

What is one thing you’ve felt a calling to do? Follow your calling! Follow your courageous heart

Ms. President

presidentcoverWhen I was a kid, I was obsessed with the presidents of the United States.

In fact, my first “book “ was a round. It was made in the image of Presidential seal, which was the cover for the book. Inside every page was dedicated to one of our presidents. Each president’s date of birth, the years of the term(s) they served, their marital status and spouse, their party affiliation, facts about them, and the date of their death was documented in that little book.

At 10 years old I named my first horse, Ms. President, because I believed that women were as competent as men and that it was time to have a woman as president.

We are on the brink of making history by finally electing a woman to the office of President. For the past 227 years this position of leadership has been out of reach for women, this is the first time in two and a quarter centuries that a woman has a real chance of being elected president. Hilary Clinton would be our 45th president. I don’t believe anyone should vote for a candidate just because of the candidate’s gender or race, I do however believe that Hilary Clinton more accurately represents the issues that are important to me than her opponent. I look forward to next month and hope that others are as excited as me about a woman advancing to the office of President.

My Weird Miracle

My Weird Miracle

Last month I was invited to speak to the National Association of Bar Executives at the American Bar Association Conference in San Francisco on the topic of LGBTQ Diversity.  I was a little harried when I arrived the night before because my flight was cancelled at the last minute and I had to change airports and arrival time. I checked into the Hilton, stopped by the gift shop for some chocolate around 7pm and debated whether to review my presentation before or after dinner.

I decided I would feel more enthused after dinner. So, I left my luggage and laptop bag in my room and ventured out for food. I stopped at an Indian restaurant that had photos of Bill Clinton with the owner. Apparently this was a favorite haunt of he and Hillary’s pre-White House. I enjoyed my meal and then returned to the hotel at 8:00 PM.

When I got back to my room my laptop bag was missing. I looked everywhere and found it nowhere. I remembered having it on the BART; surely I didn’t leave it there. The lobby, perhaps I’d left it upon check in, though I swear I’d taken it to the room.

I raced to the reception desk. “I think I may have left a laptop bag here about an hour ago.” I told the receptionist who phoned security. Security came and asked me to describe the bag. “Yes, we found a black bag with a computer. We’ll bring it up, “ he said. I sat and waited in the lobby for 15 minutes until they arrived with the bag. My heart sank when I saw that it wasn’t mine. I filed a report, and then made some tearful phone calls.

I believe in the power of prayer/focused positive energy to effect change.

I posted a request on FB for prayers that my laptop bag return to me. I believe in the power of prayer/ focused positive energy to effect change. I also got a return call from the Agape Prayer Line and asked for prayer.

I mentally retraced my steps. I asked the young man working in the gift shop if he’d remembered seeing my bag. He said, “Yes, you had it balanced atop your suitcase.”

“Thank you, “ I said, confirming that I indeed had it when I arrived and checked into my room. I remembered that someone was vacuuming in the room next to mine and I contacted security to give them the additional information. Then, I went back to my room and tried to manage my anxiety.

I’m a writer. Everything is on my laptop; screenplays, books I’m working on, presentations. I do back everything up on an external hard drive, but it had been at least 6 months since I’d done that. A lot can happen in six months. What was worse, is that I always keep a zip drive at home with my most recent drafts of my work, and it just so happened that I’d put the thumb drive in my bag because I’d printed copies of a screenplay I’m working on for my writer’s group. I was beginning to question my karma and clearly questioning what I’d been thinking to manifest such unfortunate circumstances.

I had to take a hard look at my thoughts.

Some good things were on my horizon that required me to stretch and come out of hiding. I realized that this opportunity for growth was triggering me. What better way to stay small than to lose my proverbial voice—my writing, books I’ve been working on for years?

I did some powerful work on myself, including calling my own coach to explore this possible karmic self-sabotage. I realized there was some grief that needed to be expressed.

Every time we grow and embrace something new, we let go of something else, even if it’s a lesser version of ourselves.

I had some tears to shed that had to with past losses, fear of change and losing control, which ultimately meant letting go and letting the Universe support me. I also had to surrender and trust that the Universe had a plan for me and that if I was meant to release my computer it would work out. At the same time, I kept holding the return of my computer in my mind. I worked to tap into the feeling tone of my computer coming back to me.

One of my friend’s texted me and told me she’d lost a whole draft of her book and had to re-write from scratch which she did and it’s now a widely successful book. Another friend contacted me and told me what I needed to do for my computer’s security and how to handle the situation with the hotel. She’d been through this before and said it was common.

I called my girlfriend and we talked and I shared with her some of the things that had been coming up for me that I hadn’t yet shared with her. We had a very rich conversation and while we were talking I heard a knock on the door.

At 11:30 PM I opened the door and the security guys were standing there with my laptop bag. I broke into tears of joy and thanked them. I was so relieved!

I looked inside. Everything was there, including my journal and the thumb drive.

“Have you taken any medication today?” They asked me.

I looked at them and laughed. “No,” I said, “Why do you ask?”

“Are you sure you weren’t in Tower 1?”

“No,” I said, and reviewed for them exactly where I’d gone in the hotel since I arrived. They told me they found my laptop on the 10th floor of Tower I. They looked at me perplexed.

I don’t know how my computer got there or who took it from my room. At one point I was told they had cameras and that they would check them. Then later I was told that they were no cameras. I don’t know what’s true in regard to their security procedures. It’s probable that it was an inside job.

What I do know is that miracle consciousness and prayer work.

I believe in the positive energy of all my friends on Facebook holding the return of my computer in prayer and I believe in the power of miracles consciousness. Thanks to all who sent their positive energy my way. I hope we can all continue to reach out in times of challenge and send one another loving thoughts. Focused positive intention is powerful Our love is powerful!

Below is a picture of my beloved computer.

computer

It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine!

IMG_7067It’s 2003 at the Los Angeles LGBT Center

Rev. Deborah Johnson tells us to, “Get comfortable and close your eyes.”

I’m lying on the floor with a room full of lawyers, non-profit leaders, grassroots LGBT activists, and LGBT/LGBT friendly clergy collectively known as the California Freedom to Marry Coalition. Thirty of us are gathered together to discuss winning marriage equality for same-sex couples. Same-sex marriage had not yet become a reality in any place in the world, except the Netherlands. It was before Gavin Newsom, before Massachusetts, and even before I began writing my book, Why You Should Give A Damn About Gay Marriage.

Rev. Deborah asks us to imagine what it would be like if we had marriage equality. 

According to the right wing opposition it would mean the decline of Western Civilization as we know it. The end of the patriarchy.

As I lay there with my eyes closed here’s what I saw:

A saw a pink haze and the colors of the rainbow, people smiling, a world of cooperation, a world where everyone was just being themselves. Gender was more fluid. People dressed and expressed themselves as they felt comfortable. The hard and fast rules of what made someone a man or a woman didn’t exist. People were joyful, friendly, open. People mingled together without the segregation we’d always known. Same-sex couples with mixed sex couples. The vision was so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes, though very little of what I saw had anything to do with gay marriage or images of gay marriage.

When I opened my eyes I had a powerful revelation. The right wing opposition was right “gay marriage” would destroy patriarchy and Western civilization as we knew it. For the past 2000 years Western civilization has been based on the subjugation of the feminine and the oppression of large groups of people. Western Civilization has focused on the enslavement or marginalization of the masses to benefit a ruling or elite class. Values of war, more, mine, competition, rape and pillage, colonize and convert, subjugate and exploit the Earth, these are the values that have been at the root of Western Civilization as we’ve known it for the last 2000 years. YUCK!

Gay marriage would be the harbinger of a new world order. Gay marriage would turn the patriarchy on its head. Gay marriage would bring equality between the sexes.  Men openly loving other men. Men who don’t “choose” to have a wife to subjugate. Women who “choose” sexual pleasure with other women, rather than obligation and sexual domination by men.  Heterosexual men and women who choose equality and cooperation over patriarchy.

Yep, that would f…things up pretty big for “Western Civilization” as we’ve known it, a civilization that has supported and encouraged the enslavement of Africans, the annihilation of Indigenous Cultures, the destruction of the soil, the water, the animals and the forests for greed and profit.

Gay marriage would actually be a part of a more loving agenda to honor all people equally, to be more compassionate and caring to Mother Earth and all of God’s creatures, and to celebrating and valuing love. Yep, they were right. I saw it and I got it. I could feel Dr. King’s Beloved Community emerging in that vision. I was in! I wanted a piece of that future.

Flash forward June 27, 2015 the day after the SCOTUS Marriage Equality Ruling

I’m sitting in Dolores Park, in San Francisco’s Mission District, named after the huge Mission Dolores founded in 1776, where 5,000 of indigenous people are buried in unmarked graves, many having died from diseases brought by colonizers and religious converters.

IMG_7066Today the sun is shining, the sky is blue, and almost every patch of green grass is covered with people. On this day, people of all ages, every color, every background, every sexual orientation, and reflecting a wide spectrum of gender and body, gather. They talk, laugh, dance, hug, kiss, drink, eat. They celebrate. They celebrate that the world is brighter on this day. They celebrate being alive. They have come in peace. They are dressed in the colors of the rainbows.  They make a human rainbow of diversity. Nothing to prove today, just being.

 My mind wanders back in time to the Freedom to Marry Coalition meeting in Los Angeles in 2003, to the vision I saw. Tears roll down my cheek as I realize I am living the vision. I am witnessing the beginning of the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.

 

Marriage Equality Musings

DavinaKotulski2015-0322_Web - CopyLike most LGBT people and straight allies, I am impatiently waiting the marriage equality decision. (I even sent out a premature celebration email. Whoops!) Unlike most LGBT people it is a truly bittersweet victory.
Cue sad violins.
In June 1998, Molly McKay and I put on wedding garb and got on a motorcycle. I held a sign saying support same sex marriage and she drove. Yep, I was riding backseat butch. I’d asked for a motorcycle when I was a kid and had gotten a horse instead. Not a bad deal.  Anyway, we were congratulated and cheered on and a photo of us ended up on the cover of the SF paper and the rest is history. Literally.
For the next thirteen, from 1998-2011 we worked tirelessly for marriage equality. Me and Molly were the poster couple for marriage equality, until we passed the torch to Stuart and John, who were willing to get up at 4 am to talk to reporters, while I preferred to sleep.
We organized rallies across the U.S. with other dedicated love warriors and we asked for marriage licenses year after year. We marched and celebrated every marriage equality victory in the U.S. and abroad, and we even got arrested at San Francisco City Hall one Valentine’s Day. Then in 2011 we got divorced.
Being part of the gay poster couple and getting divorced is not easy or fun! Our personal lives became public. People felt they had a right to interfere and tell us how to live our lives. It was nasty and intrusive. After having this experience I, like Gweneth Paltrow, am an advocate for conscious uncoupling.
Everyone survived in the end and we can look back on our accomplishments, teamwork, and shared history with pride and gratitude for the opportunities we were given by life to make a positive difference in the world.
I’ve learned a lot from these experiences and one thing I realized is that we, the LGBT community, have put a huge weight on our shoulders by feeling we have to do marriage better than heterosexuals to be worthy of it. We don’t have to do anything to be worthy of our rights or equality.
If our marriages last until the day we die, or until the day something dies within the marriage, it’s all good.
As we get ready to celebrate our equality, my wish is that LGBT folks don’t feel like they have to prove anything and can fully embody and enjoy our right to marry!  I also ask that we lend our support to our global LGBT family and help them secure their rights too!
And on a personal note, it excites me to no end that next time I want to get married I can do it with just one trip to the marriage license counter.
With Pride!
Davina

What Ellen Means to Me.

Ellen-DeGeneres2What Ellen Means to Me

I remember exactly where I was the day Ellen’s “Puppy Episode” aired, that was the episode when Ellen’s character announced “I’m gay.” It was May 1997 and l was in Aurora Colorado at a Department of Justice hostage negotiation training and I watched from my hotel room. I was so proud of Ellen’s coming out.

One year previously, I had come out in my government job interview. “Applicant states she is a homosexual.” The report read. “Confirmed with applicant’s current employer and landlord that applicant is an out homosexual.” This was important because it meant my homosexuality could not be used to blackmail me. Even though they could still choose not to hire me because I was gay, I was and am out and proud and had nothing to hide.

So Ellen’s coming out meant a lot to me. It was clean and clear and courageous! I personally though the show got even better when we got to watch Ellen with her TV girlfriend. But the network didn’t and they started posting parental advisory warnings. Then they cancelled the show and now one wanted to touch her. As her character said in one of the last episodes “Now instead of not having sex with men, I’m not having sex with women.” She’d become a television leper.

Shortly thereafter her relationship with Anne Heche ended and Anne quickly married and had a child with a man. My heart went out to Ellen. I knew she’d done the right thing by coming out and being courageous and yet it seemed like after she did her world fell apart.

Years later, in September 2001, I read an Advocate interview with her where she talked about the break up and all the ways she struggled with having her show canceled. She talked about how she dealt with her depression and how Eckhart Tolle’s book “The Power of Now” helped her. She said that after you’ve gone through a hard time then when “the next bad thing that happens you know you can deal with it.”  She also talked about the importance of working out, writing about your feelings, and not giving up. “If you don’t push yourself than you just give up.” She said. It was Ellen’s endorsement of Tolle’s “The Power of Now” that got me to pick up the book and I too found it transformative.

In the interview she also talked about her variety show. She’d filmed it and then decided to do a sitcom instead and pulled it which I thought was smart. I thought the idea of a variety show was totally weird. Ellen interviewing musicians and other celebrity guests, sounded boring to me. In the interview she said “I think everybody thinks that the network changed their mind about the variety show. It wasn’t them. It was me. It was a hard sell to get somebody to decide to put money into a variety show-a show that hasn’t worked in a long, long time. And people have tried. I had to convince them that I could do it and that it would be great. My idea for it was the old-fashioned Carol Burnett. A show that was funny just for the sake of being funny. It was not mean-spirited. But the problem was that after we tried it, we started realizing that the time the Carol Burnett show was on, there weren’t all these other shows to compete with, all these other channels. And I didn’t know how to make it different, you know, I was just looking at it and thinking, a weekly variety show is going to be really hard.”

I remember agreeing with her when I read this almost 13 years ago. It seemed silly and highly likely to fail. Well, the rest is history. Her sitcom didn’t last long and the variety show soared. Her career exploded in unimaginable ways. Everyone knows her. Even as I write this, the older Latino couple I’m chatting with told me that Ellen inspired them because of how she dealt with her break up with Anne Heche and her perseverance and humor. She gets to dance with straight women on her show, who I’m sure have a little Ellen crush and she’s married to a gorgeous actress, Portia De Rossi. Ellen gets to make people laugh for a living. She gets to showcase good deeds and interview celebrities. As he said on one interview, “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, enough already!”

We all go through challenges in life. Times where our lives fall apart, where the things we’ve been working on just don’t seem to come together, times of heartbreak and sadness. Times that seem filled with unending loss and disappointment. When I’m having one of those moments or one of my clients is, I think about Ellen and her amazing comeback. Ellen is an amazing LGBT role model and she is a role model of courage for all of us of how to get back up again when life has knocked you down and keep moving toward the horizon of your dreams. And that’s what Ellen means to me.

September 2001 Advocate Interview with Ellen

Angelic Troublemakers

Bayard-Rustin

 

“We need in every community a group of angelic troublemakers.” -Bayard Rustin.

 

 

Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement March on Washington. Fifty years ago, Dr. King stood at the Lincoln Memorial and gave his spine-tingling “I have a Dream!” speech which gave America a blueprint of what equality would feel like and look like. Not only did he give our country a vision for what equal justice under the law looked like, he gave us the vision of a loving brotherhood and sisterhood, a Divine family, of all Americans regardless of race, religion, or other man-made forms of separation.

Bayard Rustin, an African American gay man, was a major architect in the March on Washington and Dr. King’s work.  However, because of the combination of extreme racism and homophobia of the times, Rustin was unable to be out and proud and his contributions were hidden so as not to draw attention to him.

In fact, he even made a personal spiritual choice to sublimate his sexuality, not because gay people should, as some in the extreme religious factions believe, but because any sexual activity between members of the same-sex was against the law, sublimating his sexuality allowed him to remain untouchable by the discriminatory man-made laws and to be of service to a broader cause. This was a huge personal sacrifice!! However, he made this choice because the opponents of civil rights were trying to discredit Dr. King by associating him with “homosexuals.”

He is finally being recognized for his contributions to our nation’s history and his selfless work to end discrimination. Not only did he help organize the March on Washington, Rustin had gone to India and helped bring the non-violent teachings and methods of change Ghandi taught back to the Civil Rights Movement.  Like, Ghandi, Rustin made great personal sacrifices for the over all good of his country and to be of greater service to the world.

Today we celebrate Bayard Rustin’s contributions. We recognize him and celebrate the rights of all people to be free and treated equally under the law. And we continue to hold in our vision the unfolding blueprint of what our world will look like when we see and truly embody the truth that we are all part of one human family!

Imagine Equality

Imagine Equality

Can you feel the love? What a beautiful day to get married! Same-sex couples in Delaware and California are exchanging wedding vows today!

“It’s about time!” One woman exclaims, commenting on the legal same-sex marriage ceremonies that are taking place in West Hollywood.

John Lennon sings “Imagine” in the background. It brings a smile to my face. Yes, people said we were dreamers when we started Marriage Equality California back in 2000 and now that dream is reality and here to stay!

I drove to West Hollywood to watch the city councilmembers get deputized to perform wedding ceremonies. It’s a celebratory vibe with only one dissenter, stating that Jesus would be ashamed. There’s some shouting back before she is escorted out of the council chambers.

Outside sitting in a line of chairs below a rainbow colored “Marriages” banner are David Barney and Paul Mejia who have waited 43 years for this day. Wanda Lawson and Lauryne Braithwaite together 32 years sit alongside them. The couples are exchanging stories of their lives together. They have already had long happy marriages. For these couples the happily-ever-afters are social security benefits and the long overdue official recognition of their relationship by the government. Wanda and Lauryne wear white shirts and matching rainbow-colored flower leis, David and Paul striped shirts. David holds his cane.

The county clerk is wearing a purple striped tie and wears a blue button that says “Keep Calm and Marry On.” He’s grinning from ear to ear. This is a great day for West Hollywood!

I snap photos of Ariel and Louis who have been together for 13 years. They seem shy. They’ve come alone and I’ve offered to document their historic moment. They are wearing matching white shirts, tan pants, and brown shoes. They are adorable. I watch the Mayor of West Hollywood, Abbe Land, perform their ceremony. They’re so nervous Ariel puts out his right hand and Louis almost puts it on the wrong finger. Been there! How can they not be nervous exchanging vows in front of dozens of reporters snapping photos.

Perhaps it’s nerves, or internalized homophobia, but some of the couples don’t hold hands during the service and their public “You may kiss your spouse” kisses are a little tentative. I think of all the times gay people have been shamed for showing affection, for “flaunting our sexuality.” I hope that with each day marriage equality is legal, same-sex couples will feel more comfortable holding hands and engaging in public displays of affection. “You may now kiss your bride or kiss your groom,” should be followed by a kiss long enough for a photographer to snap a photo. In Ariel and Louis’s case, I was able to capture a beautiful embrace of joy!

It’s a little weird to be behind the camera at a marriage equality event instead of in front of it. It’s unfamiliar, a little humbling maybe, but fun to document the smiles and love of these newlyweds. I’ve had my moment and now it’s their time. Someone comments “I hope that these couples will be the 50% of couples that don’t get divorced.”

Last Friday night I decided to drive into West Hollywood to celebrate the 9th court lifting the stay on the marriages. I felt a little sad that I wasn’t in San Francisco to celebrate with all the people who’ve I worked with over the years to make marriage equality a possibility in California.

Still being new to Los Angeles, I ended up turning into a residential area and then driving up some street towards Santa Monica Blvd. As I was stopped at the stoplight, I glanced left and saw my seminal book on marriage equality “Why You Should Give A Damn About Gay Marriage” in the window. I quickly put my car in reverse, parked and ran out to snap a shot. I remembered when I used to dream about being a published author and imagining my book on the bookshelves in Barnes and Nobles in Iowa (where they have marriage equality), simply because it was the first Midwestern state I thought of, and in store windows across the country. It was another reminder of personal dreams that have come true and the power of our imaginations to create those big dreams in the first place.

What new dreams will emerge as we paint the remaining 37 states equal? We still have to pass ENDA. We still have to end transphobia and make sure that transgender people have equal opportunities and access to employment and healthcare. There’s some serious work to be done in Uganda and Russia among other places for LGBT people. What will life be like in the post-DOMA era?