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How Groups Keep Talking

1. Everyone is the expert on their own experience.
2. If you want ongoing connection that has to be what you focus on as much as what you want to say.
3. Maximizing entry points hastens connection.
4. Diversity of every kind creates entry points (among other things). 4. Shifting between voices as disparate as possible builds connection.
5. If someone can’t tell you you’re wrong, you’re not having a conversation. 6. What you say to one person you say to everyone.
7. How you talk to one person is how you’re talking to everyone.
8. The quietest people “speak” the loudest. 9. Everyone wants to feel heard and acknowledged.
10. If you’re interested, people are interesting.

More notes, video and workshop information.

Look Out Kathy Griffin and Margaret Cho: I bring twenty college students out of the closet in a single show

Equal parts raunchy, serious, awkward, and inspirational, her routine opened doors for the LGBTQQ community here on campus and opened the eyes of everyone less aware…it was an introduction to the life of Heather Gold, an extraordinary person.

[for the] people who stayed… to talk to Heather Gold—not even listen to or laugh at, but engage in authentic conversation with—her direct approach, her humor, and her interest in every individual was a welcome reprieve from an otherwise generally repressive atmosphere….Heather Gold is someone who deserves the chance to speak to more than just an audience of people seeking acceptance: she needs to speak to those who deny it, because if anyone can raise awareness and support for the LGBTQQ (which stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning, in case you didn’t know) among us, she can.

– See more at:

Audra Foster – The Gettysburg Forum

I perform and speak at college campus’ regularly, usually about LGBT and diversity issues. For me this comes from the same heart as all my speaking in the Net and business world as well: creating spaces in which pretense can subside and people can be connected as their more authentic selves. Jokes help.

I’m also becoming as well known for talking about and teaching how I do this tummeling.

But I am feeling really proud, and not just because I’m now entitled to a whole lot of toasters. I got serious about this goal of connecting the “audience” in my shows over a decade ago because of my San Francisco peers, mostly early web creators who all often asked “how can I add value.” Many performers give people a public example of something, or publicly advocate for rights as comics Kathy Griffin and Margaret Cho do for LGBT rights. I do that too, but since I began doing solo shows (for me these are monologues with lots of audience dialogue in them), I began asking “what if the show were not about something over there but were focussed on making something really happen right here, right now.”

What kind of difference can you really make in an hour or so? You can change how someone feels about themselves in public.You can change an environment.

To be fair this Gettysburg show did go over the hour I’d prepared to do because I was obsessed with bringing the room together and tipping the public balance in the room there so that people could come out. The students were individually telling me about their frustrations. And who were all these people showing up to have abstract discussions about civil rights, yet had real concrete social and personal difficulties? They didn’t feel safe. They felt isolated even in a room together. And sadly, many of these students were in their young twenties and had already made it through adolesence without getting to openly feel ok about the feelings and actions straight kids take when they are 8 or 9 “I have a crush on him. Which boy do you like best?” and so on. They were in a small isolated college. Were they going to have to go through 4 more years not honestly connected to themselves or dating or sexuality?

I deal in the unspoken. Now the only student I physically brought onstage is definitely straight. But she has a version of the same stuff to deal with as everyone. Could she say no to me? Could she tell her truth? Not being able to talk about what you’re really feeling or what’s really going on isn’t an issue limited to queer kids coming out. It’s at the heart of the breeding ground for everything from unsafe sex to bad corporate meetings to dictatorships. It’s one of the main obstacles to our being able to be #WITH each other, which I believe is our main collective need right now.

So I stayed on stage until it became easier to be out than in. Till these students had someone else they could talk to in the open, or maybe even ask out. I did my best to use what was about me in the show was used to make things helpful for everyone there.

The awkwardness, the seriousness, the conversations, the discomfort, the comic relief was all done consiously in order to achieve something socially. As I teach in workshops and my keynotes, there’s an informational flow (or a narrative or theatrical flow and there’s a social flow. I wanted both.

It was a funny show. In comedy terms I killed.

But in life terms, I did something much more important. I connnected.

We all want to meet more people and feel more ourselves and more connected. This experience inspired me to want to accomplish more every time I perform. I’m a performing aiming for, as Umair Haque would say, thick value. Artists: ask yourself, how can I help? Directly.

To bring me to your campus or event, contact my lovely agents at Speak Out.

“I still can’t thank you enough for what you have done for this college. It was a much-needed wake-up call. Thank you! I have also forwarded this article to my club as a whole. Hopefully, we can have you back in the future!”
Josh Griffiths

Comedy, Lena Dunham and the Anti-Semitism/Sexism Hillel Sandwich

Why the reaction to Lena Dunham’s humour piece is more about sexism than anything else.

What’s underneath achieving social equality. And product returns.

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Marriage Equality Throwback Thursday – Comedy at the Prop 8 March in NY

Even though we were angry and most of California had just passed Prop 8, it was an exciting moment. It was the moment that tipped the movement for marriage equality. We were angry but the energy was huge nationwide.

Being a married lesbian in the US was very unusual at that moment and performing to that crowd was a great experience.

Life being what it is, I’m now working on Everything Is Subject to Change, post-divorce. But I stand by everything I said here.

What it’s like going to schools a kid with two lesbian mums

I found this piece by Kalia Douglas-Micallef in Toronto pretty interesting.

Even though she lives in a place with complete legal equality for lesbians and gay men (I’m not sure what the story is legally for trans* people) and even though she had activist parents and a supportive community she faced a lot of difficulties.

Canada can seem like an imagined utopia to Americans on social issues. It’s not. It’s a place full of people, like anywhere. I grew up there and I was given my own hard time as a kid, in part of being Jewish. In the 70s.

I don’t think you can stop everyone from being mean or hurtful. But you can set priorities as a community and consequences for behaviour and you can educate people. A kid is better off with a supportive family and a school where being gay is though, than being in school where being gay is ok but their family is not. 40% of homeless youth in the US are queer. Legal changes won’t be the thing that stops that or the kind of thing Kalia writes about.

Morning Jew Ep. 58: Mexican Nazi romance, Mark Wahlburg,Swastika wrapping paper

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Affordable US cities for artists

“It feels like almost EVERY city has become either an overpriced “artisan” boutique or warzone. A by-product of the destruction of the middle class in this country. Here’s my personal list, based on the national median income of $50K (middle class) with $25K as the earnings that most successful artists can expect to earn from a combined day job and art sales.

Unaffordable to even middle class wages:

Affordable with a middle class income, art part-time:
LA, Seattle, Boston, Miami, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Portland, Austin, San Diego, Santa Fe

Affordable to work part-time in limited areas/situations, or outer suburbs:
Chicago, New Orleans, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Denver, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, Albuquerque, Raleigh-Durham, Dallas

Affordable to art full-time, with high crime rates:
St. Louis, Memphis, Cleveland, Detroit, Baltimore, Wilmington, Houston, Birmingham, Orlando, Buffalo, Albany, Hartford, Cincinnati, Columbus, Nashville

Affordable to art full-time with low crime rates:
Louisville, Iowa City, St. Paul, MN, past the exurbs of cities is the last 2 categories.

Mostly every place is unaffordable or too dangerous. Commerce seems to be moving past their need for artists to displace the working classes, especially on the coasts.”

– from a 2013 comment on a conversation following Patti Smith’s urging of young artists to “find a new city.”

My gut instinct is more really teeny small places. Where do you think is a great place to live affordably as an artist? In what country? Do you live in one of these cities listed above? What do you think? Oakland is in the affordable art part-time list for now and for some it may be in the full-time wither without high-crime depending upon which section you live in.

Morning Jew Ep. 55 Transparent’s Faith Soloway! (FIXED)

More at Morning Jew

Morning Jew Ep. 55 Transparent’s Faith Soloway!

More at Morning Jew

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