How Castro Valley is Not the Castro

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When we were driving to Northern CA for my partner to have a work meeting in San Francisco during our post-chemo road trip last Fall, she made the mistake of confusing my hometown of Castro Valley, CA with the famous district of The Castro in San Francisco. The two places are only a 30 minute drive apart, but could not be further from one another in many ways.

I wasn’t so excited to show Dara my hometown, but it was very important for me to dispel any confusing thoughts she had about the two places. I share below some of the highlights.

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The Power of Authenticity: Bruce Jenner, Kanye West and My Lesbian Sorority Ice Cream Wrestling Party

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My favorite takeaway was the authenticity quote by Kanye West. He had told Kim Kardashian West, his wife and Bruce Jenner’s step-daughter, this anecdote.

Look, I can be married to the most beautiful woman in the world, and I am. I can have the most beautiful little daughter in the world, and I have that. But I’m nothing if I can’t be me. If I can’t be true to myself, they don’t mean anything.

Kanye is exactly right. When you aren’t authentic to yourself, it is nearly impossible to enjoy your life. I spent a long time being depressed, suicidal, self-hating and body hating. It robbed me of the pleasures of the everyday. Making choices and taking risks to be my authentic self has saved my life.

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You Should Read Michelle Tea’s Book How To Grow Up

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I love Michelle Tea. I can’t say much more than at 22 years old I read Valencia and finally found a literary voice that sounded like my own. Kind of breathless excitement about life, stories and a fascination with other people and my feelings and how they affected one another. Reading Michelle Tea told me I could be a published writer, too. It also told me I could maybe one day be an artist and have an amazing group of inspirational kind of reckless friends and all of those things came to pass.

How to Grow Up is her latest memoir. I have read much of her work over the years and I think it is my favorite. Her writing has evolved a bit, it’s still chatty like a friend telling you a story over coffee rather than writing a story and letting you read it. But the sentences are tighter, shorter and the sentiments are clearer. Also, she has a lot of really deep self-reflection and self-compassion that sharpens what she says through lessons learned.

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I’m Back on Facebook after they De-Activated My Account Asking for my Government ID

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I wanted to tie up the loose ends about this because I don’t like leaving a story hanging and also I want folks who are not using their government name on Facebook to know my story and get prepared.

I thought long and hard about whether or not to engage with Facebook ever again. On principle, I don’t like that they require legal names or name authentication like this. But I have several friends who pointed out I’ve worked hard to get where I am and the body liberation work I do is best served by connecting with folks who I already know.

What I ended up submitting to Facebook on Monday night was a picture of my Driver’s License, which has my government name, birthdate and photo like Facebook asked for. I submitted two supporting documents showing my name as Bevin Branlandingham.

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We Need to Be Talking About Lyme Disease in the Queer Community

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Ever since Leslie Feinberg died from Lyme Disease, I’ve known we need to talk more about Lyme Disease in the queer community. I didn’t know how to have that conversation, so I just started to bone up and educate myself.

I watched the documentary Under Our Skin, free streaming on You Tube, which according to folks I know with Lyme, it is an accurate portrayal of what it’s like to seek treatment for Lyme Disease and it is shitty. It’s the kind of helpless I feel when I see really big world problems that need solutions. But I know what I do have control over and that’s learning more about it, asking questions and opening conversations.

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Fun Home The Musical is Totally Awesome

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I was offered press tickets to see a preview of Fun Home, the new Broadway musical based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir, Fun Home. Alison Bechdel is famous (to me and to every lesbian from the 90s, as the author of the famed comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For.

I thought the musical was great. It was super tender and distilled the important parts of the book for me. It was brilliantly staged in the round, with furniture moving up from the floor and around through holes in the stage. It struggled to flesh out the mother’s character, who I thought had a bigger part in the book.

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New Episode of the Lesbian Tea Basket: Downton Abbey Teas (No Spoilers)

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So when Dara and I found a canister of GRANTHAM BLEND tea from The Republic of Tea at Bed Bath & Beyond last summer we were dumbfounded. Did we plop $12 on a caffeinated tea I probably wouldn’t like as much as PG Tips (because it is my hands-down favorite black tea why try something else). But the answer was, we love Downton Abbey and I figured it would be great to try it.

Then on a recent trip to Bed Bath and Beyond I found more Downton Teas! Their English Rose tea (based on the daughters Grantham) and their Estate Blend (an Earl Gray based on the Dowager Countess). After that score I knew I needed to Lesbian Tea Basket about it.

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Facebook De-Activated My Account Demanding a Government ID

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After the day’s events, I went to Facebook, thinking I could maybe talk to some friends who have been on lengthy dog diagnostic journeys. Or talk to some of my working class femme friends about being self-employed. Like so many times I’ve gone to Facebook, a nice aggregate of people I actually know in real life, I went to my phone browser and popped it in. I was greeted with a login screen, which is odd because I generally stay logged in to Facebook.

Once I logged in, Facebook asked me for my driver’s license. Until I provide them some kind of identity verification from their list, I am locked out of Facebook. Not only am I locked out, but my friends report that they cannot find me, cannot message me and cannot see my profile. Facebook has made it so I no longer exist on their system.

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New Episode of the Lesbian Tea Basket: Adagio Tea Haul

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I had watched a few you tube videos about video bloggers doing “Hauls” about how they bought a bunch of stuff at a vintage store or make-up or whatever. I did the same thing with something I know a lot about buying. Tea.

So far, I love Adagio. The teas can be purchased in sample sizes (10 cups or so for cheap), bigger pouches and even in tea bags in case you don’t want to hassle with loose tea.

To get $5 off your first order at Adagio, use this coupon code: 3189993374

Full disclosure, I get points towards free tea if you use it. Win-win. Sip sip.

Here’s the episode with my haul, some brief yays and skips about the teas I’ve tried, and below the video are a bunch of links to the teas I talked about that I would recommend (and a couple I didn’t have time to talk about).

click here to read the whole post and get to the video!

Florida Keys: Wandering Key West and “The Art of Doing Nothing”

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All of the locals we interacted with were fantastic and super weird. Whether weird in appearance or not, upon interacting with them they were definitely not what I would call “normals” and were lively, fun folks.* It was the tourists who had me on guard. (Unbeknownst to us, it was Spring Break.)

That first day we wandered Key West I noticed the tourist crowd, but quickly ignored it to enjoy the beauty of the old wooden houses and taking our wander through the town. It was so lovely.

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