At Home: Portland Pride


I took this photo in June 2015, while attending our first Portland Pride event.  This is an iPhone photo, with no filter.  My company had a float in the parade, so I went to meet some of my co-workers while everyone was getting set up.  This beauty was stretched out in front of the old US Customs House on Park Avenue in Old Chinatown, waiting to lead the procession through the neighborhood, along Burnside Avenue to the riverfront where we would all join the festival, culminating a weekend of celebrations.  Without such a large LGBTQ community, Portland has little diversity to speak of.  It is literally the “whitest” city in the US.

We had moved to the city a few months earlier, for a new opportunity which also afforded us the chance to escape the steaming injustice of the South, where I had also spent the 3-years prior advocating for the expansion of the Human Rights Ordinance in Jacksonville (it finally passed in 2017, without the mayor’s signature…ain’t that some shit?!).  Although no LGBTQ person is truly ever safe in America, it was refreshing to see friends, families, companies and churches come together to revel in the distinctiveness of each of us, after bearing witness to the painful, bitter battle to get Jacksonville’s HRO through City Council.

For all its rainbow flags, however, Portland lacks a rainbow of skin color.  As the city tries to overcome a history tainted with racism, the current wave of gentrification has pushed black and brown people even farther out of a city that claims to be open and welcome to all.  Welcome as long as you have enough money to pay the escalating rents and mortgages in a booming real estate market.  While the city has written provisions for income controlled housing into law, those units can’t be built fast enough.

For as much as we loved Portland, it became unaffordable for us as well.  With a bitter taste in our mouth, we moved back to Jacksonville.  It is nice to be in a city that is truly diverse in color and orientation, but the bigotry here is so much more pronounced, and the challenges to create equity living in a red state are harder to overcome.

Is there anywhere we can meet in the middle?

 

Travel Log: Venice – Grand Canal (3)

I took this photo in October 2011, when I had the good fortune of visiting this beautiful, but sinking, island before it is gone.  According to the BBC, both the rate at which Venice is sinking, combined with the threat of rising sea levels, the city has felt an 11-inch shift over the past century. This has resulted in Venice flooding ever more frequently – 100 floods in the past year alone – leading to further erosion of the city.  Most of the shift can be directly attributed to climate change (suck it, Republicans – the struggle is real!)

If there was any doubt that 45 is a giant hunk of shit, well….here’s your sign…

  • The POPE believes the science is settled
  • Exxon thinks we should keep the agreement (as do other large companies)
  • North Korea is on board. NORTH KOREA, y’all!
  • We are now one of three (yes, 3) countries not participating: Syria (they get a pass), Nicaragua (they thought it wasn’t tough enough), and the US (because the Cheeto-in-Chief is a racist, misogynistic twat who wants to undo anything Obama did – good, bad or indifferent – in hopes of erasing the fact that we elected a BLACK MAN as POTUS)

Guess what, Shitgibbon? You can’t erase it, because me, and all of the people like me, who voted for Obama know that we voted for President Blackenstein, and we know the truth. And the truth is this: you just sold our children’s future up the river with your little, vengeful temper tantrum, so you can take your “pro-life” stance and suck it. If you are truly pro-life, then you would want to protect the thing that houses all of it.

 

Travel Log: Obidos – Rua Direita (2)

This is probably one of my all time favorite photos, taken on the Rua Direita in Obidos, Portugal, during my visit in 2011.  The photo has remained relatively untouched, other than I’ve added a soft vignette border.  There isn’t anything particularly spectacular about it, but I love the contrast of blues and white, specked with hints of flowers the residents planted along this path.

Established by the Romans sometime in the 5th century, Óbidos is one of the oldest cities in Europe.  Following the Romans, came the Moors, then the Christians, and finally the first King of Portugal took it back from all of them in 1148, during his conquest of the Estremadura region.  His son gave the title to the Queen in 1210 and the town has been known as Óbidos: Vila das Rainhas (the Town of Queens) ever since.  Carrying this noble title, the citizens living within the town centre have made a commitment to the constant upkeep needed for the buildings and walls, that are centuries old.  There have been a handful of occasions when the town went through a reconstruction phase: additions to the castle in the 14th century by King Dinis; the Church of Santa Maria (the patron saint of Óbidos) was built in the 15th century so that the King and Queen could marry (they were 9 and 10 at the time….creepy); renovations after an earthquake in 1755 (resulting in the loss of much of the Arab and Medieval architectural influence from the the buildings, walls and churches); and finally, the nearby Battle of Roliça, fought during the Peninsular War in the early 1800s.

Óbidos has fared pretty well over the years, and is one of the few towns left in Europe where the ancient buildings and city walls remain in tact.  As I rounded the corner of my walk through the village, something about these stairs gave me pause.  The wind stopped and the chatter from my fellow pedestrians grew quiet.  In that moment, I could hear the whispers of history, winding down the stairs to fill me with hope.  The ancients spoke softly that day, to remind me, “the most beautiful things can grow from ruin.”

Travel Log: Lisboa


Other than a little brightening on the blue, this photo has virtually no filter. I took it in September 2011, during my first trip to Lisbon. The economy had collapsed and there were quite a few people lining the Rua Augusta, begging for money. I saw many more standing in unemployment lines, that were blocks long, in the city center. The city was dirty, and covered in fog. As I stood, staring out at the Rio Tajo, the sailboat came into view and I quickly snapped as it passed under the Santuario Nacional de Cristo Rei.

I didn’t stay long in Lisbon, but the rampant sadness and poverty afflicting the centuries old port, that had come on the heels of the financial, caused by fraud of big banks has always stuck with me.

It seems our law makers never learn from these disasters, and are always willing to loosen regulations designed to protect their citizens from swindlers, for the sake of lining their pockets with a few more bits of gold.

The people deserve better.

Travel Log: Beautiful Nice

09.23.11 Nice Ville (12)

I took this picture from the Promenade de Anglais in September 2011, during a time in my life of great sorrow, but also of great healing. I remember staring into the Mediterranean Sea, the day I arrived from Marseille via Barcelona, wondering if joy would ever return to my life. Then, that very evening I walked into a packed, tiny jazz club, in the middle of the town square, watching people rub up against one another, and I remember feeling that I would indeed know that kind of joy in my own life again one day.  It’s heartbreaking that someone stole that joy from the city recently.  To Beautiful Nice, I send love and light, in hopes that the light and warmth I felt from your city with one day soon return to your own hearts.