One Small Change

My plan was to write about Gay Pride month yet the murders in South Carolina last week have taken front and center attention to matters where we all bear responsibility. Will we ever know the real reason behind these senseless deaths? We have heard so many commentaries, so many accusations and sadly so many political groups hurling blame on one another as to the reason why this young man shot people amidst a prayer group. This is not the time and place for the spin doctors. It is a time for us to change.
Sadly there is still a divide between people whether it is color, gender, religion, sexual preference and any belief that is passionate for a human being. We have wars occurring about matters started over 2000 years ago and in America we are have silent wars brewing about anyone who is living life as they were created. While I am not a regular church goer, I have a spiritual devotion to my faith in God. Help me to understand that if God had a child birthed with any color skin, who are we to say that the human being with that color is any more or less than the next child born? It is a huge responsibility to take on making these judgments. Science research will show that it is harder to hate than to love. So, again I ask, why are we making life harder for ourselves?
When I see a confederate flag flying I scratch my head as to why this is still the case? Yet, many of us probably haven’t given it a lot of thought because we are not living in an area that has the confederate flag flying. Why are we still giving voice or attention to a symbol of slavery and hate? Take it down and make room for a symbol of peace. Approximately 750,000 people lost their lives during the Civil War between 1861-1865 fighting over ideals relating to slavery. And here we are in 2015 still harming one another because of the color of our skin!!!? Why are we subjecting ourselves to harm……….stop it!!! We need to take care of each other, not harm each other.
We as a human race have perpetuated the conversation about different rights based on the color of people’s skin. We give in to jokes, we give in to stereotypes and even though it might seem like a small giggle, we are still allowing the discrimination to continue………..even with our silence. When we are in the company of someone putting a diverse group down, either walk away or tell them to stop. Joining in increases the momentum of hate. Change our own behavior with “making fun”. There are plenty of other topics to laugh at.
With the South Carolina tragedy still front and center, as it should be, we have to pay attention to how innocent and loving people lost their lives that day. Perhaps in their memory there will be a positive shift in America. I pray for that to happen. Let this be a time that we check our privilege or sense of righteousness at the door and open our arms to all people. I challenge us all to make one effort to make sure that this behavior of hate stops. It can be simply saying hello to a person we would never have acknowledged before, be a youth mentor to a kid from the inner city. Help them to open doors of opportunity. And there are so many other ways to live in unconditional acceptance. We can create that type of world and it’s much healthier for our mind, body and soul. Change to Love!!

What does LGBT really mean?

Acronyms are part of our daily life so today I’ll focus on LGBT. For those who don’t know, it stands for Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender diversity. What it really means is Love-Great-Beautiful-Tenderness because that is how the LGBT community has learned to view life because we have experienced the opposite adjectives by being held as different; yet we are ALL very much the same.

Unfortunately, there are still plenty of people who roll their eyes when LGBT is spoken. It’s almost like we are a group of mosquitoes to be swatted away. We are equal and it’s up to some of the human race to not be fearful. Don’t worry, we won’t sting you. More than likely we’ll be the person who helps to heal you as a healthcare or mental health professional. We’ll be the person who helps you buy your house or help your college bound child get financial aid as well as a bunch of other really important life events.

Having lived through times of my life over the 30+ years that I have been part of the LGBT community, I now have a greater passion to see that all people are treated fairly. If I only focus on helping the LGBT community than I am just as much of a discriminator as peers who shun me……and that’s not how I want to live my life. I was taught that God is everywhere and He judges no one, so help me to understand why people have taken on the role that judgment comes from a human being and not God? Stop it!!!

For those who read this and treat all people equally, then you understand where I am coming from. The name of the game is to treat others as we would want ourselves treated….end of story. To those who have issue with the LGBT community, first, thanks for taking the time to read my blog and secondly I have to ask, “What are you afraid of?” We are all in this world together to live a good life, see that our kids and grand-kids have everything they need and to feel loved. So why should any of the controversy matter? I want to be heard just as much as you do. I want politicians on both sides of the house to stop stealing from Americans and I’m kind of done with both parties. So why do you think I’m any different than you? I pray every morning and night, I love my family of origin and my family of choice with an undying loyalty so again I say, we are very much the same.

Pride & Pendulum

Every year LGBTQ communities around the world celebrate what could have been an ordinary night of police raids on suspected homosexual establishments in New York City. During the early hours of June 28th 1969, the Stonewall riots became one of many LGBTQ historical lighting rods. Systematic oppression and mistreatment of the LGBTQ community reached a critical tipping point and aggression was met with equal aggression. Yes, Pride was birth from the womb of a riot. Its screeching cry rocked a nation, empowered a people, and lifted a layered veil demanding to be acknowledged. The pendulum reached its lowest point where potential energy has been fully converted into kinetic energy.

I believe that we are at one of those pivotal moments of kinetic energy where LGBTQ issues are top of mind of talking-heads and decision makers. We must take advantage of this opportunity to stimulate meaningful dialogue, and more importantly, meaningful action.

Solely from a business perspective, June is the month when everyday commercial products and brands are suddenly decked out in jovial rainbow hues, dipped in glue and tossed in glitter. The celebration of same-sex love ooze in ads depicting couples holding hands, blissfully gazing into each other’s eyes and sharing tender bashful smiles. June is a company’s chance to parade their non-discriminatory practices & policies, benefits, and support of their LGBT workers and consumers. Brands are finally utilizing campaigns to foster the message of equality and diversity with a little twist of the arm, I might add.

According to a Google Consumer Survey from August 2014, “Pride campaigns” are in direct correlation with consumer conscious spending. For consumers under 34 years old, 45% said that they are “more likely to do repeat business with an LGBT-friendly company”. My only hope is that companies’ efforts toward inclusion are not merely gestures, but a positive swing in the right direction. How will we ever know? I’m banking on Newton’s Third Law of motion: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Case in point, of recent some groups are encouraging people to boycott companies like Wells Fargo, Tiffany & Co. for going “beyond being gay-friendly to being public advocates”. This is well within their right; however I plan on being on the right side by continuing being a conscious consumer.

The bridge of inclusion requires deliberate action and a willingness to incorporate groups within a structure. Incorporation is not assimilation, yet it preserves the uniqueness of the entity. LGBT businesses are unique and must be acknowledged as so. I encourage you to support your LGBT owned & LGBT friendly businesses. Also, if you are LGBT owned, by all means become certified through the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce to open doors to larger corporations.

We are responsible for keeping the pendulum swinging in the right direction.

Happy Pride!

Lamont Stanley Bryant
Relationship/Business Development Manager
AdNet/AccountNet, Inc.

Honoring Those Who Served Our Country

Last week I spent a few days with my mom in celebrating her 91st birthday. As I write this blog I feel melancholy from missing her. In her twilight years, she has evolved into this gentle spirit, free from most judgment (she still hangs on to a few). She is much easier to be around now than she was over the years. As the youngest of 5 with 7 years between me and my brother, Mom and I As a child Memorial Day was way more than a holiday in our family. It was a ritual where we attended services held at our church cemetery. I remember gathering for the service at 11:00am and listening as the priest said prayers for people who had lost their lives in the war as well as for those in service in the present day. I watched as he walked around the cemetery with holy water blessing the graves of deceased veterans. We did not have anyone in our immediate family who fought in the war but it was important to my mother that we paid respect for those who fought to keep our country free.

Once the service was over, we headed to my grandparents house for our traditional Memorial Day cookout.

As we go into the long holiday weekend excited for an extra day off and the gathering of family and friends for barbecues or getting to the beach as an official start of summer please remember all those who came before us to keep our country free.

If it were the 1960’s, I am sure I would have been demonstrating for “No More War”, marching in DC and whatever college campus I was attending. I wish our world could figure out how to collaborate rather that irritate each other so we can enjoy a peaceful world. Since we can’t seem to get our world leaders on the same page, we need to pay respects to all those who fought on our behalf.

Also remember those who were stateside serving the soldiers. Lady Auxiliary groups served those who fought overseas, USO and various celebrities traveled into the war zones to entertain our soldiers. Remember all the Bob Hope Specials and when Marilyn Monroe sang for the troops? Yet most importantly were all the women who were thrust into the workforce while raising children. They worked in the factories to build war related equipment. Remember Rosie the Riveter?? Women kept the family together and they took care of the men who came home with broken spirits.

So Memorial Day is much bigger than cookouts and having a day off. We celebrate all the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our country and continue to make sacrifices. They taught us courage and resilience. I honor you today and every day.

The Magic of Our Elders

spent the most time together where I was her companion after my father died in 1968. I can remember wonderful experiences including trips to the Metropolitan Opera in New York City where she would dress me up formally and teach me about the elegance of opera. At 8 years old, I felt really special. She loved history and exposed me to many historic places on the East Coast. As I grew into an adult, I chose my own paths which were not always what she wanted for me yet I broke through her heavy grip and created my own life. We had many disagreements but always came back with much respect and love for each other.

Now that my mom is entering early stages of dementia, there are times she is becoming the child and I the parent. I never get mad at her for asking the same questions. She can’t really tell that she has asked them over and over again because I answer them just as gently the first time as I do the 10th time. When she apologizes that she has to ask me something my answer is the same, “Ma, you had to remember a lot for the 5 of us throughout 91 years, now it’s our turn to remember for you.” She smiles and her eyes light up with reassurance that all is okay. Though her memory is decreasing, her voice is still as crisp as when she was 51.

When my grandmother was 90, her body was wearing out and her mind still sharp. Nanny could rarely leave the house so we all came to her. All 5 of us were working in stressful careers, raising families, 2 of us lived in Baltimore and 1 commuted in and out of New York every day. None of that mattered, we all visited Nanny on a regular basis. We all loved sitting with her, hearing old stories and she loved catching up with everything we were doing. When she began to forget things, we would tease her and her comeback was “I was just testing you to make sure YOU remembered!!” Those moments were precious. I distinctly remember looking deeply into my Nan’s eyes to see her pretty chocolate brown eye during one of those visits and I am so grateful because I always have that memory of her eyes smiling back at mine.

I do this now with my mom. She tells me stories of her youth and times with my father. Fortunately, with an iPhone, I use an app called Momento to dictate the story so I don’t forget our history!! She lets me cook meals for her now and that is such a joy because she would always want to cook. Each meal is lovingly devoured and always ending with a dish of ice cream or a sweet. We still love to have tea in the afternoon as we did when I was growing up. We sit together on the side of her bed and I scratch her back before I tuck her in for the night. It’s sweet.

Mom, laughs at herself now that her life has changed as well as I see her anger when she can’t do
things for herself that she did a year ago. What she loves most is having us all close by. Now that our 5 brothers and sisters has changed to 3, my brother, sister and I make it work to give my mom her wish to stay in her home until her last breath. We love giving to her, and getting her out for rides or a visit. My wish is that the younger generation makes time for her the way we did for Nanny. There are too many distractions out there that have people think there is not enough time but there is. Our elders are our history, and still give us wisdom. They want to be valued, they want to be heard and they want to be seen.
There are many seniors out there sitting in nursing homes or at home with no one to share conversation with or no one to hug. We know that will never be the case with our mom just as it was with Nanny. Conversations keep her mind sharp and the stimulation of visits energizes her soul. As I see her age and know her time with us is limited, I know that this is still the same person who shielded me from harm, made me do my homework, clapped for me at graduations and painted my townhouse after I left for work.
I am grateful for each moment with my Mom and blessed by the magic she gives to me every day.

Betsy Cerulo
CEO, AdNet/AccountNet, Inc.