2015 has been another incredible year in the lives and times of Col. Pat and Barb!
We have seen our extraordinary filmmakers, Cindy L. Abel and Michael Bruno, a few times this past year for more filming of the ongoing adventure that we are living, SURVIVING THE SILENCE.
And, in addition to the film, we are over a year into the writing of our memoir which has been exciting and challenging!
A few highlights from 2015:
We’ve had the honor, pleasure, and delight to share our story in the Sacramento Bee, on several radio stations, on television and in person: from Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, Calvary Presbyterian Church in San Francisco and the Soroptimist Club of Roseville to the Sacramento LGBT Center’s Q-Spot youth group and on an Olivia Travel cruise to Australia and New Zealand. Every event was met with encouragement and positive feedback – and some, like the Pioneer Congregational Church in Sacramento, insisted on making our presentation a fundraising event for the film.
Pat has been the recipient of numerous awards this year, including one from her nursing school and many of our family members joined in that celebration. Pat was also the recipient of the Sacramento LGBT Center’s Advocacy Award. And she received the “Gift of the Heart” award from the California Hospice and Palliative Care Association for her work in the Honor Our Veterans program through Sutter Hospice. Her long career of giving is being acknowledged and it is a joy to behold!
California State University Sacramento has asked us to donate our memorabilia to the Magnus Hirschfeld Archives housed there.
We had the honor of meeting a cadre of Cindy’s friends and supporters while in Atlanta recently, where a spontaneous fundraising phenomenon transpired during the evening’s delightful gathering.
Did you know it takes an average of 7-10 years to develop and produce a major movie?! As with any film, two main elements are vital to SURVIVING THE SILENCE: time and money. As Cindy and Michael put in the long hours necessary to bring it to the big screen, let us know if you’d like to help with the fundraising part and/or have places where we can share our story. www.SurvivingTheSilence.com
Is it truly labor when it comes so naturally from some people?
This picture was taken at the August 18, 2015 Sacramento LGBT Center Pride Awards. Toni Atkins, Speaker of the California State Assembly, was awarded the Person of the Year award. She was also the first openly gay person to serve as the acting governor of California for 9 hours on July 13, 2014. We see her star continue to rise as she works for equality for all. Will there be an elected governorship in her future? We can certainly hope for that. Her labor for the people of California is a natural extension of her love of justice for all.
The woman chosen as the recipient of the Advocacy Award was, non other than my wife, Colonel Pat Thompson. I am privy to seeing her in action behind the scenes. I have watched her careful consideration of a movement into activism over the years. Having a military career and a high profile position precluded her from active participation in the fight for LGBT rights and equality until her retirement in 1994.
Once Col.Pat bid the military a fond farewell, she got on with making inroads into the job at hand. She carried protest signs in various cities around the state. She took on the mission of PFLAG by educating, advocating and supporting hundreds of people who entered the safe space of Greater Placer County PFLAG’s monthly meetings. She is one of the smiling and hugging greeters at the door almost every month. A true non-labor of love!
Marching in the San Francisco Pride Parade with PFLAG lights her up. She’ll tell you how so many thank you’s, tears of gratitude, and applause fill the streets when the PFLAG contingent marches by the million-plus attendees.
Col.Pat works hard at being the best advocate for the LGBT community but it is not labor for her–it is love.
When life hands you lemonade you might wonder: where are the lemons from whence that sweet lemonade originated?
Col.Pat and I have been graced with the most fortuitous bounty of life. We live in a constant state of gratitude and recognition of our good fortune. Lemonade. Sweet, sweet lemonade!
Our magic to squeezing every last drop out of life’s lemons is to live life with intention and abundant gratitude. Our intention is to make the most of every opportunity to share our lemon times. Those times were the sourest during the days of separation when Col.Pat was assigned to the Pentagon and in the jungles of Panama. Needing to live in stealth and invisible to the U.S. government and military takes a toll. Cindy L. Abel is doing a magnificent job of portraying much of this in www.SurvivingTheSilence.com currently in production.
Sour times seeped in when we lived in the closet during 29 of our almost 31 years together. Col.Pat says only after she came out to her family is when she felt to be totally and completely OUT! She accomplished that last year at the age of 80!! When the time is right it happens!
We have been graced with the love and support of family and friends which has grown even fuller over the years.
Being inordinately favored with remarkable good health gives us the energy to work toward our goals.
Our house is much greater than the sum of its numerous parts. We’ve created a safe haven and countless gatherings of our diverse ensemble of cherished friends and family.
The photos above were taken today as we spend a week at one of our favorite places–Bodega Bay on the wild Sonoma Coast of California. We enjoy “camping” in our vintage 1973 Silver Streak travel trailer as often as we can. It’s a terrific activity to share with other Rainbow Campers.
Pour yourself a glass of sweet lemonade and join us!
I don’t mean to drag out that old trope, “Everyone will have their 15 minutes of fame”, but it seems that we are accruing little 15 minute nuggets here and there on the “E ticket” ride that has become our lives.
The photograph above was taken during our interview with Sacramento Bee writer, Cynthia Hubert. Bee photographer Renée Beyer, snapped some wonderful shots of us during the two hours we had the pleasure of their company. The article can be read here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article29991720.html
Being in the “limelight” is an avenue for us to share our message. The personal account we share is part of the process to educate, inform, and enlighten the public about the inequities LGBT people have dealt with for decades. Our story delves into how LGBT soldiers had to live before the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell on September 20, 2011.
Col.Pat and I take the privilege of having this public platform very seriously. We want, diligently, to reiterate our desire to shed light on the hidden history of LGBT lives. The passage of time and the wonderful far-reaching positive changes in our fight for social justice might sweep this history under the rug. When that happens, the collective consciousness can forget how odious life had been. Then the efforts to strip away the hard-won rights can raise their ugly heads, as they are now, with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and similar laws, ordinances and propositions being brought to the voters.
We are on guard and keeping a vigilant eye on all that we hold dear in the battle for justice and equality. Our fifteen minute nuggets may continue for a while and we will honor that advantage to keep the dialogue active.
Renée Beyer, Col.Pat Thompson, Cynthia Hubert
Often, when surrounded by appreciably younger people, one can feel even older. This was not our experience while in the company of the young people at the Sacramento LGBT Center’s Q-Spot youth group. If anything, we felt younger and more vibrant ourselves.
What a wonderful place for LGBTQ youth to go for support, education, camaraderie, and fun!
Col.Pat and I arrived early to set up for our presentation. The lower level/basement meeting room was alive with 10 or so kids laughing, sharing and enjoying each other’s company.
The group participants range in age from 13 to 23. We had an audience of close to 30 interested people that evening. We shared some highlights of our lives and our 30 years together. Our story includes living under the ban on gays in the military and being invisible as a lesbian couple during Col.Pat’s long military career.
All eyes and ears were focused on us with rapt attention and respect. Thoughtful questions were asked and many thanks given to us for being there.
We asked the group to join us for a picture after our talk. About one third of the kids felt comfortable being photographed. The others may have still been struggling with coming out to family and were not ready to deal with possible negative repercussions. This act of caution opened our eyes to the fact that, even with the great strides made in LGBT rights and education, there is still a huge stigma to being LGBTQ in today’s world.
We look to this generation as the future (and current!) leaders in the continuing campaign for LGBTQ equality. We hope we have given them enough encouragement and a background of history to continue the process.
This experience has infused us with a renewed energy to continue to move equality forward. Thank you Q-Spot for the rejuvenation!
You may be wondering why this fierce and relentless creature is staring you in the face here on a blog about the adventures of Col.Pat and Barb. Worry not for us, for we have taken precautions to keep this devil at bay.
I’m referring to the preventable, and often curable, affliction of colon cancer. We have seen this killer descend upon friends and family alike.
Col.Pat spent a year of her life taking care of her sister, Betty Ann, who was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. For someone to have their first encounter with this dreadful diagnosis at Stage IV means they have never availed themselves of the life-saving testing available via a simple colonoscopy.
Betty Ann was diagnosed at the age of 70 and never saw her 71st birthday. Col.Pat was by her side during that horrific year to aid and assist her beloved sister through the odious path this disease puts one on. Too late for surgery, the treatment of choice, in Western medicine, was a horrific course of chemotherapy. The end result was death, not health.
No one, as they say, would want their worst enemy to suffer through this agony. And no one has to. A colonoscopy is only as unpleasant as the preparation for it. You’ll spend a day considering the porcelain throne as your closest friend. A thorough bowel cleansing is the prerequisite to a successful procedure.
Please don’t let the devil of colon cancer have its way with you. Make an appointment now! The life you save may be your own.
Marriage Equality became the law of the land on June 26, 2015! Now, finally, we all are able to have our cake and eat it too!
I’ll take you through the history of our marriages leading up to this landmark date.
Col.Pat and I experienced our first wedding on March 10, 2004 in the majestic San Francisco City Hall. She was 71 and I was 51 years old. We had been in a committed relationship for 20 years. A rather long “engagement”.
As we stood in front of Mayor Gavin Newsom’s office and repeated the words of the almost angelic officiant, we were both brought to tears. This simple ceremony and act of commitment was beyond our imagination until Mayor Newsom opened the city and county of San Francisco to marriage equality for the LGBTQ community. This was the first occasion of official same sex marriages and happened about two months before Massachusetts made marriage equality legal on May 17, 2004.
The San Francisco weddings lasted only a month but it put the fire in our bellies to work even harder for the rights we knew we deserved. 4000 couples flocked to the city to participate in this monumental event. Our participation in these first bold steps on the long road to Marriage Equality will always hold a red letter place in our lives.
Our California sanctioned marriage took place on September 29, 2008. Marriage Equality had arrived to our state and we knew the threat of Proposition 8 could remove it in the coming November election. Our fear of the potential loss of our rights moved us to action in a rather short window of time. We, and over 18,000 other same sex couples did not have the luxury of long term wedding planning. No matter–it was glorious!
My mother and her significant other, Jack, witnessed this remarkable milestone as they accompanied us to the County Clerk’s office in Auburn, California. A divine backyard reception followed. The well wishing group of friends and family enjoyed the delectable cake, pictured above, made by my sister Phyllis. Champagne flowed and a rainbow painted the evening sky! But a thunder cloud lurked in the distance
Col.Pat and I will be interviewed by Beth Ruyak on her one hour program, INSIGHT Thursday, July, 9, 2015 at 9am Pacific time on Capital Public Radio
This program airs live and is available at www.capradio.org/insight to hear on demand.
Listen in and give us your feedback.
Col.Pat and Barb
Welcome to the first of many blog posts to come. Col.Pat and I are excited about the new possibilities to share our thoughts, feeling and activities with all who are interested in LGBTQ life and little-known military history.
Head over to our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SurvivingTheSilenceMovie to learn more about our exciting film, “SurvivingTheSilence-Love and Impossible Choices”.
We are currently in production with Cindy L. Abel, the director of award-winning documentary “Breaking Through”
We’ll share some behind the scenes tidbits to whet your appetite for the future release of “Surviving the Silence”.