writer, lawyer, human
Human Inspiration Works, LLC
June 2019 Vol 4 No. 6
Inspired by the words and actions of Robert F. Kennedy
We’re well into Pride Month here in Minneapolis; this weekend will be our actual Pride celebration with Loring Park occupied by all kinds of Pride vendors and organizations, along with a wonderful parade through downtown that’ll happen on Sunday the 23rd. If I recall correctly, 400K+ people visit Loring Park, making Minneapolis host to one of the biggest Pride events in the country.
As you’ll see, this issue of
is heavy with LGBTQ-related information (although not entirely—as always, there is something for everyone). Given that June 28
will mark the 50
Anniversary of the start of the Stonewall Inn riots in New York City—and the beginning of the modern gay rights movement—I think it fitting to highlight LGBTQ topics on several fronts.
On a totally separate note, I’m going on a mini-sabbatical in July to work on my second book,
Being Ellen: A Newly Minted Woman Takes on the World
(or at least that’s the working title…). Thus far, the book has been written in drips and drabs and I need a solid block of time to produce some real volume.
The mini-sabbatical means that I’ll be skipping the July issue of
along with a host of other passions in July. Look for the next newsletter in August and every month thereafter. (Did you know that July will mark three years since I launched this newsletter? Wow!)
I hope that all of you have a great rest of June and all of July. Enjoy this slower time of year and be well my friends. I care about you! Talk to you in August!
Compassion X2 at a South African Gas Station
A story out of Cape Town, South Africa demonstrates that even a small act of unexpected kindness and compassion can reap enormous compassion in return.
On a recent day, 21-year-old Monet van Deventer stopped at a Shell gas station on her way to work. As the station attendant was preparing to fill the tank, she discovered that she had left her bank cards at home and had no way to pay for fuel. She then told the station attendant, 28-year-old Nkosikho Mbele, that she’d chance it without filling up.
Knowing that the neighborhood through which Monet would have to drive was “dangerous,” Nkosikho pulled out his wallet and paid to fuel Monet’s vehicle.
As Monet later wrote, “I was so shocked as it was such an amazing gesture and it made my day. I decided to make his kindness public and took to Facebook and then set up a crowdfunding page for him.”
The crowdfunding initiative caught the hearts of many (most humans have good empathetic hearts and when given a pathway, we show up in droves) resulting in more than £26,600 (U.S. equivalent=$33,337).
“I couldn’t imagine people of South Africa both black and white would embrace his kindness in such a way and now Nkosikho has closed the account as he says he has too much money,” wrote Monet.
For his part, Nkosikho said, “I know how dangerous that stretch of the N2 is…and my faith in God told me that it was the right thing to pay for her to travel safely so I bought her fuel for her. I was just happy to see her drive away knowing she would arrive where she had to get to safely and I had no idea that I would have my life so blessed in return for what I did.”
Make sure to watch the video that’s imbedded in the story
When Nkosihko’s employer, Shell Oil, heard about its team member’s good deed, it matched the donations he received with the condition that he give the Shell money to a charity of his choosing.
While this story is wonderful in its own right, what’s truly remarkable is that it bridges the color barrier in South Africa, a county with a long past history of racial intolerance. The story also makes me think that South Africa’s work in the late 1990s toward truth and reconciliation over its horrific racial past may have paid off here.
All great stuff if you ask me. Just because a human was willing to care for a stranger.
Ugly Words and a Journey of Grief
One For Pride Month, I want to share the story of Nathan Mathis, the father of Patti Sue Mathis, who took her own life at age 22. Patti Sue had come out to her parents as a lesbian when she was a senior in high school; in response, Nathan told Patti Sue, “I would rather have my child was dead than to have a gay child.”
After that, Patti Sue ran away to live with friends; several months later, she returned home to tell her parents that she “no longer wanted to be gay.” However, after taking their daughter to the University of Alabama for tests and counseling, the family was told that Patti Sue was just being her true self and there was no way to “change” her. Patti Sue then lived publicly as a lesbian.
Eventually Patti Sue forgave Nathan for his ugly words. She enrolled in a nursing program and lived in a mobile home on the 1000-acre peanut farm that Nathan farmed in Alabama. Although Patti Sue “appeared happy,” she ended her life in March 1995.
The resulting grief propelled Nathan in a different direction. As reported by the
New York Times
, when Roy Moore ran for the Senate in 2017, Nathan began a one-man protest holding a sign denouncing Moore for his anti-LGBTQ views. (Moore, previously the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, had written in a court case that homosexual behavior was “a crime against nature, an inherent evil, and an act so heinous that it defies one’s ability to describe it.”)
Nathan said,“How is my daughter a pervert just because she is gay? I don’t know what I will accomplish…But somebody needs to speak up, and if it is all to no avail, so be it...
I was anti-gay myself. I said bad things to my daughter myself which I regret. But I can't take back what happened to my daughter. Stuff like saying my daughter's a pervert, I'm sure that bothered her."
I offer this story for a couple reasons. First, love should always trump hatred or bigotry, particularly when your child is involved, but frankly, this should be the case for all humans.
Second, the story underscores the tremendous emotional fragility that comes with being LGBTQ, particularly for younger persons. When society at large (and leaders in particular) proclaims that people are lesser for being true to themselves, that messaging is hard to shake. As a result, the attempted suicide rate for lesbian, gay and bisexual youth is
that of heterosexual youth.
of transgender persons have attempted suicide with more than 90 percent of those attempts occurring before age 25. Finally, lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are
more likely to attempt suicide when they come from families that reject them compared to families that are accepting. (See this
Trevor Project data on suicide;
the Trevor Project is a 24-hour suicide prevention hotline for LGBTQ humans at
—feel free to share about the Trevor Project and its toll-free number.)
Please, love the LGBTQ person in your life. If they are hurting, tell them that you care and ask what you can do to help. Then, please do what they ask. It can make all the difference in the world.
Finally, following Patti Sue’s death, Nathan built a lake which he named after his daughter. He explained, “I was trying to help my conscience, so her memory would not die.” Click
to see Nathan on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Inclusivity Tip of the Month
= Safety & Acceptance
The idea of rainbow colors being representative of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) community originated with Gilbert Baker, a San Francisco gay activist and fabric artist, and friend of Harvey Milk, the first gay person ever elected to public office. (Milk, a county supervisor in San Francisco, was assassinated in November 1978.) Milk had asked Baker to come up with a design to better represent the LGBTQ community, which until then had largely used a pink triangle as a symbol. (The pink triangle originated in Nazi Germany to publicly label and shame “homosexuals” much the same way that the yellow Star of David was used to label Jews.)
Baker set to work and came up with the idea of a rainbow; some attribute this to Judy Garland’s song, “Over the Rainbow” in
The Wizard of Oz.
(Garland was a gay icon; she died just days before the Stonewall Inn riots.) The flag originally had eight colors—with each color representative of some aspect of being human, like pink for sex, red for life, orange for healing, etc. Forty years after the original rainbow flag was introduced, it’s now common for the flag to have six colors. You can read more about the history of the rainbow flag
From the standpoint of inclusivity, it’s important to understand that rainbow colors—whether they’re on a flag or a poster or a sticker—have special meaning for LGBTQ persons.
A big problem for LGBTQ community members is that we often don’t know whether we will be welcome in a certain place of business or house of worship. This creates anxiety over being accepted and the risk of being verbally (or even potentially, physically) rejected. Having a visible rainbow present in the space in question helps to relieve that anxiety greatly. This is why many churches, educators and medical providers will display the rainbow where it can be seen by the general public—it’s their way of saying, “You’re safe here.”
One form of allyship (remember, “ally” is a status; “allyship” is action) is to recommend that your workplace or organizations publicly display the rainbow in one form or another (at building entrances; near reception desks; in treatment rooms; or on websites) to alert LGBTQ people that they’re welcome and accepted. Often, culture leaders who make decisions about how an organization will be presented publicly don’t understand the significance of the rainbow for LGBTQ people; it may be necessary to educate those leaders on the subject. That, in turn, may involve some difficult conversations; please have those conversations because often, LGBTQ people aren’t able to advocate for themselves.
Finally, understand that there are also flags for bisexual or transgender folks and other groups within the LGBTQ community; while it would be great to have all those colors present in a particular space, it’s generally accepted that the rainbow colors encompass the community as a whole.
Happy Pride, everyone!
Odds & Ends
We start this month’s O&E with a story about pink flamingos, gay flamingos to be exact.
Meet Freddy Mercury and Lance Bass, two male pink flamingos who reside at the Denver Zoo, and who love to spend time together. Sometimes they even help incubate orphan eggs. Yep, it’s a
Second Darn Wonderful:
Check out how Oklahoman Cody Barlow signified his ally status for LGBTQ friends by creating a
Pride Flag on the tailgate
of his 1991 Chevy Silverado. Certainly, this took some bravery and it’s exactly what true allyship looks like!
One More Wonderful:
of a bald eagle swimming (you read that right) in a New Hampshire lake. Stick with the video until the very end. I had no idea that bald eagles could swim…
Cops Doing Good
: When an
Orono MN police officer
did a welfare check and saw that the elderly woman’s lawn was overgrown, he of course mowed it. Likewise,
Lynn Haven, FL police officer Mikayla Edwards
bought tacos for a family when she learned the Mom only had enough money for one meal; w
hen asked why she did it, Edwards said, “People think all we want to do is just put people in jail, which really isn’t the case. We really do want to get out and help people and better the community. She (the Mom) was having a hard time. I guess, probably just God [told me], ‘Hey, you need to buy this family food. You need to help them, make their night better.’ I just listened and that’s what I did.”
Unfortunately, Not All Are Compassionate:
We’re hearing more about people publicly calling for LGBTQ people to be executed or killed, including
about a Tennessee preacher employed as a Sheriff’s Dept. detective and
about the Corbin Hill, AL mayor. These folks are in the minority for sure, but our younger people don’t understand that—the hatred corrodes younger folks’ spirits.
Yet, Half a Million Turned Out for the Columbus OH Pride Parade:
Remember, Ohio was a Red state in 2016. This is why I know more people accept LGBTQ humans than not. See story
Bigotry in the Drive-Thru:
Here is a
about how two black-color women were labeled “the Black b*****s in silver car” on the receipt of a drive-thru restaurant in Oxford MS. They didn’t take it laying down and the bigoted restaurant employee was fired.
Check Out this Incredible Website:
Last week, I met Julieanna Richardson, the founder and curator of
, the largest collection of video interviews of black-color humans; her 2700 interviewees speak about growing up in a white-color America. I highly recommend looking at the site for its many resources!
Great Short Piece re: LGBTQ Allyship:
I just love this
short example-filled piece
by Wendy Berry re: what allyship for LGBTQ people looks like. Print and share, please!
Wonderful New Film about AIDS Crisis and Nurses:
a documentary about how San Francisco General set up a special ward to care for AIDS victims (although this was at the start of the crisis and the disease didn’t even have a name), is now out. Caring for sick gay men took great courage in part because we still weren’t certain how this new disease was transmitted. The film is on my list!
Free Dad Hugs at the Pittsburgh Pride Parade:
about Scott “Howie” Dittman, who gave out more than 700 free “Dad Hugs” at the Pittsburgh Pride parade. Remember one of the Four Commonalities is that everyone wants to love and be loved.
My 29-year-old daughter Kate, a writer like me, is a freelancer for
where she reviews books. She also has an entertainment-book review website that’s fun and smart,
Snarky Yet Satisfying.
She regularly reviews books on her blog; check it out! Kate's busy life means she has to defer her next book pick until August--I know some of you are disappointed! However, if you need a book fix, check out her website for "AsianLitBingo" book selections!
“Ellie 2.0 Radio” Podcasts/Shows:
My podcast/show, “Ellie 2.0 Radio,” airs on Twin Cities-based AM950 every Monday from 7 to 8 a.m. CST and can be live-streamed by clicking
. Ellie 2.0 Radio highlights various historical and contemporary idealists and my work as a “practical idealist” trying to change the world for the better. My June 10
podcast/show was about Scott Warren, an idealist with No More Deaths, which aids migrants by putting water and food in the desert. Warren was just tried on federal human smuggling charges resulting in a hung jury. In my June 17
show, I talk about Sylvia Rivera, a transgender woman considered the “Rosa Parks of the Trans Community.” You can access the show’s 70+ podcasts
TV Interview of Ellie Krug, Idealist:
for a recent BiCities TV interview about my work and philosophy as shaped by being an idealistic transgender woman who’s trying to make the most of a do-over at life.
Last week, the
Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal
conferred its 2
Annual Business of Pride Awards; I was the recipient of a
Lifetime Achievement Award
and let me tell you, it was extremely humbling to be accorded such an honor. I’m not used to that kind of recognition and I’m very grateful to Carol Russell of the
Russell Herder marketing firm
for nominating me for the award!
Stuff Worth Reading (assuming you think like ellie…):
Here is a thoughtful
piece about tipping hotel maids/workers
by Margaret Carlson in
I’ve been doing this (at least $15) for the past several years. Here’s
, “Everything a Drag Queen Taught Me About Parenthood” by Corvette Hunt in the NYT; wonderful words about letting humans be authentic. Thank you
reader and Coe alum Jane Brower for passing along!
“Skirting the Issues” column is titled
Trigger alert: this isn’t a Happy Pride! piece.
Please Follow Me on Twitter—The Goal is 1000 Followers:
This year I have a goal of doubling (to 1000) the number of people following me on Twitter (it was 502 on Jan. 1; currently 657). Would you please follow me @elliekrug? Thanks!
Past and Upcoming Talks/Trainings and General Stuff:
As you read above, I’m off in July. In August, I’ll be speaking at Play Monster in Beloit WI and at an American Bar Association conference in San Francisco. On the horizon are September trips to speak in Idaho (!), Massachusetts and Steamboat Springs, CO. Have I said how grateful I am to have this encore career? See my Upcoming Engagements
Want to Support My Work Fostering Greater Compassion and Human Inclusivity?
My goal is to do more work in greater MN and other parts of the country where access to compassion/human inclusivity training is limited or nonexistent. If you’d like to support this work, please consider donating to
Human Ripple Works, Inc.
, a nonprofit that others have set up to fund my expenses (but not my fees) to do work in places/for organizations that can’t afford to pay for training. (I work with nonprofits or under-funded agencies for free or at a greatly reduced fee in these locals.) Thanks for considering this!
is a work in progress, so please, I welcome your suggestions and comments! Please share this newsletter with others, too!
Thank you for helping to make the world a better place! I'm at your side, cheering you on, I promise! Please have compassion for yourself and for others.
Encouraging Open Hearts and Thriving Human Spirits
Human Inspiration Works, LLC: We make "inclusion" an action word