Keep informed about our journey, Gay Into Straight America!  Each week, we send out a newsletter.  Below are links to the ones we have sent since the beginning of our year long journey, which began September 11, 2005.  The most current one is at the top.  Note:  The last newsletter for this journey will be the December, 2006 newsletter, since our year long journey will be over; however, Stand UP Speak OUT, Inc. will continue with other projects.  Gay Into Straight America was its initial one.  Click here and sign up to receive our newsletter that will come from Stand UP Speak OUT in 2007.  Those who have already been receiving this newsletter will automatically receive our Stand UP Speak OUT...Live Authentic newsletter.

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Freedom isn't means taking risks
Jun 29, 2006

 You can't hate someone whose story you know.
Dare to know the story of those who are different.

“The tiniest story in your life can deeply touch another. You cannot know the effect your story might have.”--Sark


This morning, we both acknowledged that we woke up during the middle of the night, and wondered where we were.  Once we got our bearings, we laughed and acknowledged that we were home, sleeping in our own bed! What a novel idea! That also means that we are on PST, and with a 3 hour difference from EST, we had to hustle to get pics in this newsletter. 

We are home so that Dotti can officiate the wedding of Tammy and Rachel. Rachel is the daughter of Kathy Reim, the state PFLAG chair in Washington state.  Roby will be doing the wedding photography

Thanks to people who continue to write about the impact of our journey. From time to time, we will share one or two (with the individual’s permission).  Whether the words come from an individual who heard us speak at an event, or from a person we met on the street, we are honored by people's comments and cherish building the connections.

From Linda Toia in Perkasie, PA:
Your presentation at Perkasie Mennonite Church was wonderful! Thank you for your commitment to authenticity and your willingness to share your important message.  It was great talking with you at Perkasie Menonite Church! My husband and I talked about your presentation until after midnight. He was so sorry he couldn't attend. I would like to be added to your distribution list and receive your weekly journal. I will send your info to my brother in Key West and also to our lesbian (and non-lesbian) friends at church. Thanks!
From Robyn Thomas in Australia (she heard us speak in Bellingham, WA)
I just wanted to say thank you for the great words of encouragement y'all spoke that day.  It had and still has an effect on me.  The true extent I'm probably still not privileged to at this time.  Too, it was my and Michelle's first taste of anything "out."  Lord, I am so inarticulate at times.  I thank you for the ease you inspired us to feel in that room of rainbow hues. Take care of you and hugs to your gal Roby.  In God's Loving Embrace, Robyn
Another from Robyn:
Don't know what exactly you all believe in (fate and such), but I met y'all for a reason.  One thing I do know is that I am finally on the path of discovery, not only of myself but of others too.  It's scary and oh so exhilarating.  Feel like I'm on the precipice of something...internal happiness? This is the first time in my life that I have lived alone, physically alone, and the first time that I am not alone.  The walls have come to know me intimately and I appreciate that they can't talk. And the light in y'all sheds illumination on my path.  Thank you.  Take care you three!

People on the street:
While walking along in Greenwich Village, a man noticed Dotti's shirt, and felt safe to assume she was/we were lesbian, and said, "It should be a fun parade tomorrow." That started our conversation with a delightful man named Bill Wladich.  We learned that Bill grew up in New York, and he knows all things NYC! There wasn't a question we asked that he couldn’t answer. Bill is a 64-year old gay man, who retired early after a very successful career on Wall Street. There we stood, in the rain on that Greenwich Village street corner, taking shelter with our $5 black umbrellas, becoming friends with a sweet man named Bill.


Bill & Roby

Bill said he wanted to take us to dinner and give us a personal tour of the city. Unfortunately, we hadn't the time, but the gesture was appreciated. Before leaving New York, Bill called us just to say, "It was very nice to meet you, and I'd like to keep in touch." It's these little encounters, on street corners, in rest stops, in gas stations or coffee shops that feel are the real "gems" of this journey. We are blessed, and life is good! We promised to take Bill up on his offer next time we are in New York!


 It was here that we met Bill while standing at a red light.

PFLAG and Wall Street?  That is a combination we bet Bill would never have dreamed he would see in his lifetime!   PFLAG will be ringing The Closing Bell at the New York Stock Exchange on June 30.  We’ve come a long way baby!  Following is what Jody Huckaby, Executive Director of PFLAG, says:

Friday is PFLAG’s big day on Wall Street as we join with some of our corporate partners to ring The Closing Bell at the New York Stock Exchange. I know that most of you cannot be there with us in person, so we’ve arranged for you to join us live as you watch the broadcast of the ringing from our website. Click here for the details, and tune in on Friday at 4:00 EST (although we suggest that you log on at 3:55) as we ring The Closing Bell on homophobia!

We’re using this incredible opportunity to talk about the critical role parents, family members and straight allies have in expanding the already massive $641 billion buying power of the GLBT community. And we’ll also be honoring corporations like the New York Stock Exchange, IBM, MTV/LOGO and others for their commitment to workplace diversity and equality. All of these themes will come together as we talk about PFLAG’s Straight For Equality(SM) program that will be uniting more straight allies to help advance GLBT equality in their own communities.

The home of Mary and Allen DeLaney served as our “home base” during the last three weeks, as we arrived there from the west coast, traveling to Gaithersburg, MA, Allentown, PA, Philadelphia, PA, Ocean City, NJ, and then back to their home in Herndon, VA near Washington D.C.

Last Friday night at the "Kiss & Ride" of Vienna Metro Station, we said our sad goodbyes, and rode the Metro to pick up the Amtrak train from DC to Penn Station in New York for the GLBT Pride Weekend with our Sodexho friends.

The night before heading to the city, we enjoyed a delightful Thursday evening dinner in DC with PFLAG National Executive Director, Jody Huckaby and his partner, Stephen. Unfortunately, due to the HOT & HUMID weather, we weren't able to meet their pooch, Buddy. Click here to see Buddy's picture with Stephen.

After dinner, while walking in the "gayborhood" of DC, a young man walked past us, and then turned around and walked back to us. He looked right at Dotti and said, "Excuse me... what's your name?" Dotti, a bit perplexed, replied, "Dotti." The friendly guy then said, "Dotti Berry???" She replied, "Yes." It turned out that it was Ryan, who is Joe Solmonese's Administrative Assistant at The Human Rights Campaign. We had been emailing and playing phone tag regarding getting together with Joe, trying to determine if our schedules could match up! Ryan had left a phone message for us regarding Joe's schedule. Ryan said he was walking along and noticed Dotti's Two Women & A Poodle T-shirt, and he thought to himself, "I recognize that logo!" That is precisely why we wear our logoed items each day. If we don't have Rylee with us or aren't driving our purple suburban pulling the Scotty trailer, we need something to strike up a conversation! :)

Our first PRIDE week-end in New York was one to remember.  We joined our Sodexho friends at a hotel across the street from Radio City Music Hall between 5th and 6th street. 



We heard weekend reports of sunshine and hot (94 deg.) temperatures in the Pacific NW, but in NY, we had rain, and more rain. No problem though, we bought an umbrella for $5 from the nice guy on the corner, and were on our way. At noon last Saturday, we went to a women's restaurant/club called Rubyfruits, in the heart of Greenwich Village, for a brunch/reception with our favorite photographer, Judy Francesconi. See Judy's work at


(L-R) Johanna (Judy's girlfriend), Judy, & Roby

There was also a "Pet Pride Dog Show," at Rubyfruits, where Liza Minnelli was the judge. Roby was more interested in seeing all the dogs, but it was fun to see Ms. Minnelli up close. Dotti was more interested in hearing her sing than wondering which dog she would pick as the winner!


Lisa Minnelli

As you know, we've mentioned Sodexho and Spirit Cruises in previous blogs and news updates. Spirit Cruises is owned by Sodexho, and last Saturday night, we were treated to an amazing 3-hour cruise of the Hudson River and the New York Harbor, floating right up to the base of the Statue of Liberty. Thank you, David Sinclair, (General Manager of Spirit Cruises) and Lorna Donatone (President of Spirit Cruises) for a wonderful time!


(L-R) Howie (David's partner) & David

While aboard, we were treated to a great live band, dancing, a delicious meal, and good wine, all while enjoying the view of the New York and New Jersey city lights by night.  We had just been informed that we were all heading to the back of the ship for a photograph of everyone, when a great song for a slow dance played.  Dotti immediately took Roby's hand and said, "First, we are dancing," as they headed back through the crowd.  Denise said that as we danced, they passed one lady leaning over to her husband, saying "Look, those are two women dancing." We have a rule we use that allows us to choose to participate anywhere, anytime.  If there's music, we are dancing! It turned out to be our first of the evening, but not our last!  The hardest part for Dotti was that her finger was still very tender, and when we were swing dancing, the step back posed challenges. 


(L-R) Roby & Dotti enjoying the Spirit Cruise


Some of us gals on the Spirit Cruise
(L-R) Mollie, Roby, Dotti, Denise & Erica


Hey, it's easy for me (Dotti) to be a photographer when I have a beautiful subject!


We were celebrating birthdays for Sodexho friends,  Joe & Denise 

We requested a favorite song, "At Last," and the band played guessed it ... LAST! All of the gay & lesbian Sodexho couples, encouraged by Denise, got up and danced. It was beautiful. The song was like a metaphor, representing a collective sigh that we all can feel when we finally integrate ourselves into the fabric of society, unapologetically staking our claim to be a part in all of our glory.  Indeed, AT LAST!

"There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come."
- Victor Hugo

A special part of this boat cruise was when the boat pulled up in the moonlit shadow of the Statue of Liberty and "God Bless America" played over the speakers of the watercraft. Several of us agreed that although it was very spectacular, such a sight combined with the anthems of America, will have much greater meaning and impact when ALL of us can enjoy the freedoms, privileges and protections that are presently denied us simply because we are gay. Bottom line? We must all continue to Stand UP and Speak OUT for LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL!



With July 4th coming up next week, why not do something different?  Here’s an idea.  Rather than participating in the traditional get together and party celebration, put some true meaning into Independence Day.  You can now have your own Stand UP and Speak OUT event.  Click here.  Time is short for planning, but if you make a commitment to engaging people in a conversation about the true meaning of Independence Day, that is a great start!  You could also commit to hosting a Stand UP Speak OUT event in your area during July, as your deeper commitment to Independence Day.

The New York Gay Pride Parade is the oldest and largest in the country. It was fun to experience it with our Sodexho friends who invited us and hosted us for the weekend. Unlike the Washington DC March, we were spectators at this parade.




We had given our Sodexho friends rain ponchos...they came in handy for the parade!
(L-R) Jude, Joe, Denise & Kim (Denise's partner)


Jean-Marie (of PFLAG National, and Jude's partner) could hardly keep from laughing during the whole parade...some of the sights we saw were quite entertaining!


 Two women at New York Pride, sporting a rainbow wristband


 Roby, an avid sailor, loved this pic with the rainbow sail

After the parade, while walking around the city, we happened upon Times Square Church. The doors were open and people were moving about, so we went inside. We were particularly interested in their signs out front stating, "Everyone is welcome," and "Only THE TRUTH shall set you free." Curious, we went to the information table and asked a nice young lady named Haley, (an intern at the church) whether or not we, as a married lesbian couple, would be welcome. Haley explained to us what she has been trained to say.  “Of course you are welcome. I hope that you feel a warm welcome, but we do not believe that homosexuality is right, and we believe that the Bible is very clear in stating that it is wrong.”


 Why do some people in churches "get it," while others don't?
Why do some Lutheran churches "get it" while other Lutheran churches don't?
Why doesn't Times Square Church, where the sign says,
"Everyone is welcome" not "get it?"
Why do we make God so small, when God is so BIG?

We had a very friendly and engaging conversation with Haley. Before we left, we gave her one of our rainbow wristbands so that she could visit our website.

Once again, mission accomplished. We didn't change Haley's mind about us, but we engaged Haley's heart and mind, and had an authentic connection. We believe we all parted ways feeling empowered. A seed planted.

In conversing with Haley, we realized that we engaged with someone who is part of a minority, a politically powerful group of people to whom our community has given far too much power.

Reading a recent article in the Advocate reminded us how true that is.  In the article “The Breakdown of Boycotts,” a guy who lives in Kansas City, is married with a wife and children, and is a devout Christian who attends a nondenominational church every Sunday, pays no heed to boycotts by antigay groups.  He says, “The religious right is not a group of people I’d choose to be aligned with.”  In fact, he said he isn’t even aware of what companies have been boycotted.  “Maybe that is why a series of antigay boycotts championed by Christian groups like Focus on the Family and the American Family Association have flopped,” says John Green, senior fellow in religion and American politics at the nonpartisan, non-advocacy Pew Form on Religion and Public Life.  John continues, “While Christian conservatives are a large minority, they are not the majority.”  That last line is the key.  Yes, Christian conservatives are a large minority, but they are still a minority, NOT a majority.  Our GLBTA (yes, allies too), and queer and questioning community tend to forget that.  This particular amnesia causes us to be silent, when silence is not only unnecessary, but is not productive or empowering for creating change in our society. 

We dialogued with one another regarding how to continue reaching our own community (including allies).  What is it going to take for each of us to be willing to risk as much as we are asking others to risk?  Have we not reached the point of perpetual discomfort needed to create change in our own community?  Any feedback?  We would love to hear from you.  Click here and blog your feedback!

New York reminds us of Broadway, plays, and the Metropolitan Opera.  Neither plays nor the opera were in our budget, but the marquees made us wistful for a trip back to New York in the future.


Times Square at night

Thanks to David, General manager of Spirit Cruises in New York, whose friend sings with the MET, Dotti was able to be reunited through an email with her friend, Marty Singleton, who also sings for the MET.   Marty grew up in Kentucky and was in Japan, arriving back in New York just as we were leaving.

We recently read about one play we hope makes it to Broadway.  Delta Burke’s character shows us why our choices have to be new ones.

The former Designing Woman who currently stars in Southern Baptist Sissies playing in Los Angeles shows that she is no sissy when it comes to standing up for equality.

In accepting an award from HRC, she says, 

Throughout the play, Mark, the hero, keeps closing his eyes, saying, “Sometimes I close my eyes and create a perfect world, a world of acceptance, understanding, and love.” At the end of the play, Mark stops a hellfire-and-brimstone sermon being preached at his friend’s funeral, and he creates that perfect world. And in that world the lonely are no longer lonely, and everyone is welcome. In that world preachers preach sermons about truth, about love and hope. And in that world mothers and fathers accept, embrace, and love every single thing about their children.

Well, at that point my character would hug her son—and honey, I would just fall to pieces. I was supposed to stop crying and start singing with the rest of the cast, but the tears just wouldn’t stop. Because after I hugged my boy, “Mark” would bring back the love of his life, T.J., who had left him for a woman—because of the church, because of society, because like so many, he had been taught to believe that what he was, was an abomination to God and if he lived his truth he would go to hell. And as the music is building—no help from me because I’m still crying—but in Mark’s perfect world he would say, “A world where I can love and he can love.” Then T.J. would walk in, take Mark’s face and kiss him and say, “I love you.”

There they were in their black suits—so beautiful—holding hands, standing before a preacher, like two grooms. And my tears would continue to fall, through the blackout, through my curtain call, all the way back to my dressing room. Because Mark’s perfect world didn’t really exist. He would always wake up—with hope, yes—but he would always wake up.

I took this play because I have hope too. Times are changing, folks, because of people like you who are putting a face on being gay, showing the world that you are just like the rest of us. You are God’s creations, and you are perfect. And someday, hopefully in my lifetime, we will have Mark’s perfect world.
So, yes, I believe in gay marriage. I believe in equal rights.

As we all know, there are some who do not believe in equal rights for us (calling them “special rights).  Nor do they believe in marriage equality.  They not only cite biblical reasons (such as Haley did), but they scare people with financial reasons as well, attempting to convince people that allowing marriage equality will endanger the institution of marriage.

People will forever have different interpretations of scripture.  That seems to be a historical way of communicating for people.  Relative to finances, however, Equal Rights Washington recently shared specific research that can put those fears to rest about how much it is going to cost. 

A new study finds that Washington State will actually gain $4-6 million annually from marriage equality offered to same gender couples.  Hey, that might get people’s attention.  Money often does!  Here’s the feedback from the study:

Same-sex marriage will boost the State of Washington’s budget by $3.9 million to $5.7 million annually, according to a study released today by the Williams Institute, a think tank at the UCLA School of Law. Savings in means-tested public benefits programs and an increase in tax revenue from same-sex weddings and wedding-related expenditures account for the windfall for Washington’s budget.
"Policymakers sometimes worry that the state will take a budget hit if same-sex couples can marry," noted Dr. M. V. Lee Badgett, study co-author and research director of the Williams Institute. "We found just the opposite—the state gains dramatically if same-sex couples have access to marriage. Any increases in state spending on state employee benefits or on tax breaks for married couples will have only a tiny impact."

A HUGE dinner at Carmine's Family Style Italian on Sunday evening with the Sodexho and Spirit Cruise friends was enough to quiet us for a while.  Besides, Mom taught us not to talk with our mouths full.  After dinner, we rode the subway to The World Trade Center Ground Zero. Dotti, having dined at the restaurant at the top of the Towers in 1995, felt a sense of disbelief at the sight, as we peered into a huge empty space. During Roby’s last visit to NYC in 1999, the incredible structures standing high above the other surroundings offered an inviting allure, but she did not dare go up.  Roby and elevators have a love-hate relationship, and she wasn't interested in climbing a million steps!

Our flights were affected by the rainy weather across the northeast.  We finally landed in Seattle a day later than anticipated.  The good news is that while we waited at the airport in Newark, we decided to apply our process of not being attached to a specific outcome when situations go awry.  Guess what happened?  A man sitting next to us asked about the logo on our jackets and what it meant.  We told him and he introduced himself as John-Paul “JP” Nicolaides, an area manager for Wells Fargo.  We told JP that we had been on the east coast to do training for Sodexho and that they had invited us up for Pride in New York.  JP promptly asked us to send him information so that he could pass it along to Gregg Reel, the head of their Pride group at Wells Fargo.  He later told us that Gregg was interested and would be contacting us. Things turned out great after all!

We want to encourage you to crank up your support a notch!  There are two ways you can choose to help:

#1 – Contribute to GISA so that we can continue the last leg of our journey, heading to Colorado Springs in our purple suburban, pulling our Scotty trailer, to walk in the 1000 Watt Walk with Soulforce. Click here to support.

#2 – Contribute to Soulforce, through sponsoring us on the walk. Click on this link.

If everyone on this list gave just $5 or $10, your support could make a huge difference!

Life is an adventure…enjoy the ride!

From the real and true adventures of two women and a poodle,
Changing the world…one person at a time.

The light in us honors the light in you,

Dotti, Roby & Rylee Joy









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