New Podcast Posted! First interview with speakers for the 9th Annual Heretic’s Barbecue

Click here to go to the podcast page
Click to listen!

The latest Rational Horizon Podcast is now online.  

In this podcast Mark Boyd interviews speakers for the upcoming Heretic’s Barbecue – Jess and Jordan Fitzpatrick.  

The theme for this year’s event is “Justice for All”.  And to speak toward this theme we have a strong list of presenters who understand the problems with social inequalities.

Mark, Jess, Jordan and their friend Rain Chamberlain discuss the issues that are important to the Transgender and Transsexual community who make up the too-often forgotten “T” at the end of the LGBT acronym.  

The local Trans organizations, “Trans-E-Motion” and “the Lavender Convention” are also discussed.

 Trans-E-Motion was formed to provide support and education to transgender persons, their families and the community.  They also host the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.  CVAAS has tabled at Trans-E-Motion’s other event, “The Transgender Day of Visibility“.  You can find Trans-E-Motion at their Facebook page, or from the Trans-E-Motion website.  

The Lavender Convention is a community organization designed to bring people of different beliefs together in support of the Trans community.  You can find the Lavender Convention at their Facebook page.

CVAAS is also announcing a new page in the menu – “Backstage”- which you can find under the “Members” tab.  This page will host the raw audio and video to events and interviews that CVAAS records.  You will be able to see the material before it goes into production.  Of course this is available to members only, and non-members are invited to enjoy the podcast content in our “Media” tab, or to subscribe to CVAAS podcasts through iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play.

Two hands working – CVAAS and the support of the LGBT community

floridaheartThe Central Valley Alliance of Atheists and Skeptics grieves for the victims of the Orlando massacre, and stands side-by-side in solid support with our friends and family in the LGBT community.

As president of CVAAS, this statement encapsulates our organization’s stance on the atrocity committed in Orlando Florida yesterday.

But as a person, I must protest.  A mere statement can not be the whole of the action that any person or organization takes in response to this crime.

The founder of American Atheists, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, once said, “Two hands working can do more than a thousand clasped in prayer.”  

Religious leaders, members of the Faith in Community coalition, stand in solidarity and support of the LGBT community at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Fresno

This quote came back to me over and over again yesterday as I attended the vigil at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Fresno.  Local religious leaders who are members of the Faith in Community of Fresno stood together hand-in-hand at the UU church to deplore the outrage in Florida, and to encourage healing.

It is not enough.

During the candlelight vigil and march from the LGBT Community Center to the Tower Theater in the Tower District of Fresno, I watched as my friends choked back grief, and offered each other unconditional compassion and love.  And again these same religious leaders spoke about support, about love, about healing.  And once again it was just not enough.

And finally there was another speaker, someone who spoke with outrage and passion about the necessity of change.  As this person demanded that we act I was again reminded of O’Hair’s quote – “Two hands working….”

Members of the LGBT community hold a candlelight vigil at the Tower Theater on Olive in Fresno

Over the last day I’ve asked myself, what can we do?  What can I do?  I am not gay.  I’m not transgender.  I do not have a faith or belief in a deity.  

But I do believe in us.  I honestly believe that we are all greater than the sum of our individuals.  I believe that even if solutions to a complex problem are elusive or impossible, we can still find ways to make real positive changes.   

This is not going to be easy.  Over the last day, voices about the Orlando massacre have been all over the map.  The voices of hate and marginalization have been either outrageously evil, or they have been subtle and insidious.  I’ve watched as political leaders have written, or tweeted their support of the “victims of Orlando” without ever using the words, “gay”, “homosexual” or “LGBT”.  I’ve been attentive as media talking heads have gone out of their way to avoid any meaningful dialog about guns in America.  I’ve watched opinion leaders in America paint with brushes so broad that no room for nuance is allowed.  And I’ve watched the most insane of the devout gibber in glee in support of “Team God”.

This atrocity didn’t happen in a vacuum.  Although the murder of our friends and family is horrific, it is also a symptom of the contempt in which the LGBT community is held by many here in America.  And although there are secular people who dislike or hate gay people, most hatred, and I use the word “hatred” deliberately, is overwhelmingly coming from America’s religious communities.

Over the last 6 months, there have been over 200 pieces of legislation introduced around the country that are designed to marginalize gay and transgender people.  Since June of last year, when the Supreme Court ruling made same-sex marriage lawful in America, religious fundamentalist hate groups with words like “family” or “decency” in their names have been doing everything in their power to dismantle LGBT families, and to disparage members of the LGBT community and their supporters in the most immoral ways imaginable.

To be certain, religious fundamentalism in America is a minority.  But it is a large minority, and an extremely loud one.  And it is one that has had little or no opposition by religious moderates or liberals.  When moderates do find their voices, it is too common that a voice is all that is found.  “We are with you, in sorrow, in healing, and in prayer”.  But not in action.

This is what action looks like. Yesterday morning I watched as my friend Kaylia worked with others to organize a candlelight vigil and march, and a place for grieving people to go for support. These are two hands working.

That’s not enough.  Two hands working can certainly do more than that.

Here is what I suggest.  As an ally, I will refuse to let anyone in my hearing, or in my circle of communication, get away with the marginalization of anyone in the LGBT community.  As an ally, I will support other allies who support the LGBT community.  

I suggest that we talk to our elected representatives.  There are plenty of places online that will allow you to plug in your address and will show you who your local, state and Federal representatives are.  Do this, and then write to them.  Use old-fashioned snail-mail to make a bigger impact.  Write more than once – write often.  Encourage others to do the same.

Join a local grass-roots organization.  Learn how to influence our political system.  Even at the level of an individual there are things you can do.  Even changes made at a local level can have national consequences.  The philosophy of, “think globally, act locally” applies here.

And finally, study the problems in politics in America.  Because we definitely have our problems, complex problems.  And I believe that working together we can advance toward real solutions.  

I believe in us.

If you would like to join us in figuring out what “two hands” can do, meet us on our discussion board.

Transgender Day of Visibility

Transgender LightbulbCVAAS will be tabling at Fresno’s first ever Transgender Day of Visibility.


Event details:

Transgender Day of Visibility

Sunday, April 10, 2016, from Noon to 4PM

Alliant International University of Fresno, located at 5130 E Clinton Way. (Click to see map)


This indoor fair is a collaboration between Fresno’s Trans-E-Motion transgender/transsexual community and Alliant International University.


This event is to support the transgender/transsexual community by highlighting their accomplishments and experiences.  It is also held to educate the public about transgender people in the hopes of combating prejudice, transphobia and other negative attitudes toward the trans community that are held through fear and ignorance.


transalliantThe Transgender Day of Visibility will be an indoor street fair environment that will celebrate transgender lives through singing, poetry, spoken word, and dancing. There will also be inspirational speakers, addressing the topic of transgender/gender diversity, inclusion, and current efforts in the movement for transgender equality. Art will be on display. The event will include transgender friendly resource organizations, food vendors, and business vendors. Attendees will also have the opportunity to participate in raffles for prizes.


You can learn more about this event and RSPV through the event Facebook page: Transgender Day of Visibility.