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We have lost the folk singer of my folk.
Or something like that. My grandmother and my mother kept things like flour and sugar in jars. I do the same. My sugar jar has a scoop in it that was in my grandmother’s sugar jar.
I have a little cabinet next to the stove that has shelves made from old fruit boxes and an ill-fitted door. The top of the cabinet is open and it admits light from the scullery on the other side of the wall.
Dear President Obama,
I read today of Canadian Immigration Minister Chris Alexander making a statement that Russian LGBT applicants for refugee status would be looked on with favor. I am writing to ask that the United States of America adopt a similar policy and state it publicly.
I feel I am obligated to write this letter, not only as a person who would be persecuted in Russia today for my sexuality and gender, but as a grandchild of German immigrants who left to flee Hitler. While the shameful United States immigration policy of the 1930s and 1940s is all but forgotten, I cannot forget the fact that I am only alive today because my paternal grandfather, Johannes Höber, was born unexpectedly when his parents were vacationing in Switzerland. Because of his chance dual-citizenship he was able to emigrate on the unused Swiss quota rather than the over-fulfilled German quota.
Had my grandfather not been born in Switzerland, he would surely have been killed by the Nazis. He served six months in a Nazi prison for distributing literature that opposed them. Within a few years of my grandparents arriving in the United States, Mayor Hubert Humphrey and a party of visiting delegates celebrated the successful adoption of the Civil Rights Plank at the 1948 Democratic National Convention at my grandparents’ modest home in Philadelphia. In 1948, Harry S. Truman delivered a campaign speech written by my grandfather, an immigrant who had been here less than ten years. In 1950, my grandfather wrote a pamphlet in support of the National Health Insurance and Public Health Act introduced by President Harry S. Truman in 1949. A copy of that pamphlet was inserted into the Congressional Record by Senator Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota. My grandfather spent the rest of his life serving his new country by working in various government agencies, and fighting to advance many issues I know that you hold dear and have fought for as well. It would not be unreasonable to surmise that some small portion of your political career was built on the work of my grandfather. Metaphorically speaking, I suppose it would be fair to say I am asking you to make good on that debt.
The immigration policies of the United States turned hundreds and hundreds of thousands very much like my grandfather back to Europe to meet their deaths. This is a shame we must bear as a nation.
Faced with recent events in Russia and reading of Minister Alexander’s statement, I feel it is my duty as one whose family barely survived persecution at the hands of similar evil, to ask you to consider adopting a similar policy to that of the Canadians. As a transgender person, I write with hope to the first President of the United States to even utter the word transgender aloud. Please, Mister President, help my people again avoid death at the hands of tyrants who use hate to bolster their cynical politics.
Thank you very much for your attention.
Grant LGBT Russians Automatic Refugee Status in the United States.
In recent weeks, the Russian government has enacted legislation that has made homosexuality effectively illegal – and punishable by significant fines and/or jail time.
Russian Neo-Nazis, Militias and Gangs are using this hostile legal climate as an excuse to rape, torture and murder LGBT Russians in increasing numbers. The government and police are either participating directly or electing not to stop vigilantes from committing these atrocities.
We ask the White House to order the Department of Homeland Security to accept Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Russians as Refugees to the United States based on this systemic violence and persecution.
We further ask that the DHS temporarily lift restrictions on the number of LGBT Russians that may claim asylum.
The title still of me looks terrible, or funny, or something. Still, it went pretty well.
Full bios and stuff here.
It’s the Fourth of July. I love fireworks, but I live in a part of the country where the fireworks suck. It’s geography I think. They’re always too damn far away. In the kind of old cities I grew up in, there wasn’t really anywhere to shoot them from where someone couldn’t wind up dangerously close. I was that someone as often as I could be. My favorite direction to watch fireworks is straight up. If they aren’t directly over head, they are too damn far away.
I’m writing in my living room, which is pretty damn hot today. It makes me think of the guys shut up in Independence Hall in the middle of a Philadelphia summer. All the windows and drapes were closed for secrecy. That shit had to be hot. A room full of sweaty white guys in wigs; not so far from a revolutionary cotillion.
We have come far from that moment. In some ways not far enough, and in some other ways way damn too fucking far. I suppose that the people I disagree with about what’s good and bad in this world would say the same, but mean the opposite. In that spirit, I’d like to share one of the greatest pieces of American culture in celebration of the day it’s too hot and the fireworks suck and there’s probably nothing to do but look for trouble. Turn it the fuck up, please.