Blog with a B (Graded on a Curve)

Random commentary and thoughts on a variety of topics from breaking news to pop culture and plugs for my clients. Don't just sit there... join the discussion. Let me know what you think in the comments.

 

Attention Straight People: What You Don’t Know About Your Gay Friends

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  • If you think you’re an ally to your gay friends and family and that the fight for equality is over now that same-sex marriage is legal, there’s probably a great deal you don’t know about their lives. I encourage you to read on…

    Today is “National Coming Out Day” — a day when gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people let their truth be known. On this day, we gay folk are supposed to tell heterosexual people like you that we are of the LGBT variety.

    My friends and family known that I am gay and each year it becomes harder to think of someone who might not know that I play for the other team. So, instead I use “National Coming Out Day” as an opportunity to spread awareness about some alarming facts even our fiercest allies may not know.

    I grew up in California and I’ve known that I’m gay since I was about 12 years old. It took years to find the courage to come out and tell people. Unless you’ve been there yourself it may be hard to imagine the intense fear associated with the prospect of telling people this “secret.”

    What if my family disowns me? What if I lose my job? What if my friends abandon me? What if someone attacks me simply because of who I am? These aren’t fleeting thoughts for gay men and women living in the closet. They are persistent, pervasive, and powerful.

    I’ve been completely open about who I am for about fifteen years now. My parents still love me. My friends have stuck with me. The jobs I’ve had in these years since coming out treat their gay employees with equality and respect. I’m lucky in that regard, for many people that is not the case. The freedom I now feel is amazing but that freedom is also limited.

    Some facts you may find surprising:

    • Gay people like me can be fired in 29 states based simply on who they love and not the quality of their work. On that score, the number of states sanctioning discrimination is even worse (32) for transgender people. In other words, gay folks can get married and fired when they return to work from their honeymoon.
    • Stable, law abiding same-sex couples in 27 states are forbidden from jointly adopting children and denied the right to adopt the sons and daughters of their partner in 26 states.
    • Students who identify as, or are perceived to be LGBT remain vulnerable to state-sanctioned discrimination by their teachers and public schools in 38 states while 32 members of our “more perfect union” have no statewide programs protecting them from bullying.
    • When it comes to renting a home, people like me can be denied a lease simply for being gay in 29 states and again, the numbers are even worse (32 states) for the transgender community.
    • While hospitals accepting Medicare and Medicaid are currently barred from denying visitation to same-sex partners as a result of a mandate issued by the President, 18 states have no laws guaranteeing such simple human dignity should the edict be rescinded by a future President.

    According to polls, most straight people don’t believe the numbers outlined above. They are shocked to learn such legal discrimination against LGBT still exists given especially with the advances we’ve seen with marriage. There’s so much more to being LGBT than getting married. While legal marriage recognition in every state is certainly amazing, there are still so many basic freedoms gay people don’t enjoy. More people need to know about it if we are ever going to change this sad truth.

    None of the progress made in recent years would have been possible without the support of people like you — straight people who love their LGBT friends and family. So, on this “National Coming Out Day” won’t you consider “coming out” for the rights and dignity of your LGBT friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, email, and at the water cooler?

    It has been 15 years since Ellen Degeneres came out on national television and while our culture has moved miles towards LGBT acceptance and inclusion, our laws have moved mere inches. With your help we can cross the finish line.

    You can watch my “It Gets Better” video or read my old-school “coming out story” as printed in The Advocate years ago. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and “like” me on Facebook.

     

    What Every Straight Person Should Know About Their Gay Friends

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  • If you think your are an ally for your gay friends and family, there’s probably a great deal you don’t know about their lives. I encourage you to read on…

    Today is “National Coming Out Day” — a day when gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people let their truth be known. On this day, we gay folk are supposed to tell heterosexual people like you that we are of the LGBT variety.

    For more than a decade now, my friends and family have known that I am gay and each year it becomes harder and harder to think of someone who might not know that I play for the other team. So, instead I use “National Coming Out Day” as an opportunity to spread awareness about some alarming facts even our fiercest gay allies may not know about. Continue reading …

     

    Today, I am one year #SmokeFree.

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  • How I quit smoking for good one year ago today.

    Today, June 3, 2014 at 2:30pm ET marks one full year #SmokeFree for me. It is honestly a little hard to believe since I’ve had so many false starts over the years.

    I began smoking in 1999 when I worked on Sen. John McCain’s first presidential campaign. I was in South Carolina when it began — it seemed like everyone smoked and I wanted to fit in. I wasn’t one of those people who started as a teenager. I was a dumb adult. I quit working in Republican politics after that campaign but for the next 13 years I just couldn’t quit smoking. I would attempt quitting more times than I care to count. I tried everything: the gum, lozenge, patch, Zyban, Chantix, cold turkey, and more.

    Since I quit smoking one year ago on June 3, 2013 at 2:30 p.m. ET, I’ve saved $4,434.75 by not smoking 10,950 cigarettes. More importantly, I’ve saved 11 weeks, 6 days, 15 hours, and 30 minutes of my life.

    There have been a handful of times where the quit has lasted several months only to be followed by a horribly discouraging relapse. I once quit cold turkey for six months in 2007 — the longest I ever went before this time. To begin that six-month quit, I locked myself in my apartment for 4 days to kick the nicotine out of my system. Because the quit lasted so long in 2007, I figured that’s how it would happen for good. Who knows how many three-and-four-day weekends I lost to repeated attempts to kick nicotine for good by locking myself inside. I can think of at least four such moments since that first time in 2007.

    Needless to say, this time feels very different and I am 100% confident now that I am done for good — something I was never able to say during previous quits. So discouraged was I in the past, whenever I began a new quit I would have the depressing thought, “who knows if this will last. I’ll probably have to do this all over again at some point.”

    MANY friends and other acquaintances have encouraged me on this path (Mediabistro’s FishBowlDC even wrote about it) while others have asked me how I did it this time. So, I thought the one-year mark would be a good opportunity to pull together some thoughts on how I quit for good. Here they are in no particular order:

    • Axed drinking. This one isn’t for everyone but I don’t think I could have quit smoking if I was still drinking. Drinking lowers inhibitions and purges nicotine from the system making the body really want to replace the nicotine and thus kicking off intense cravings. That’s why so many people chain smoke when they drink. More on that here.
    • Made a list. I made a list of all of the reasons I wanted to quit smoking and kept it with me for the first several weeks as a reminder of why I wanted to quit in the first place. Here’s my list from June 2013:
    1. To breath better/easier. I have friggin’ asthma for crying out loud.
    2. To stop getting chest colds.
    3. So that I can be present when I’m with my friends instead of thinking about my next cigarette or stepping out of a movie, meal, or party to get my fix.
    4. So that my apartment and clothes stop smelling like an ashtray.
    5. I’m petrified of developing lung cancer or other diseases caused by smoking.
    6. It costs me more than $4000 annually. That’s a very nice vacation or two each year.
    7. To improve my skin and energy levels as well as my sense of smell and taste.
    8. It will make traveling more enjoyable since I won’t be running like a crazy person for the exit at a train station or airport to have a smoke. I also won’t need to take as many pit stops on road trips or drives with friends.
    9. I will live longer and likely be healthier longer in my old age.
    10. So that my dog, Dexter von Frisch, doesn’t have to smell cigarettes on me or risk eating a cigarette butt.
    11. I can stop lying to myself. How many times have I said to myself, “I’ll quit tomorrow,” or “this cold isn’t because I smoke,” or “I’ve actually really cut back on smoking,” or “I’ve only been smoking more because of stress,” or “I only smoke because I’m around so-and-so who smokes so much,” or “I’ll quit before my birthday/Christmas/New Years/etc.” These were all basically lies meant to minimize my addiction to nicotine and make quitting seem less than urgent.
    • The patch. For the first 12 weeks, I used a nicotine patch, following the instructions on the packaging precisely as they were written. That means I wore one patch every day, all day except while showering or working out at the gym. I did all three steps since I smoked a little more than a pack a day on average. After each step I would have 2-3 days of very mild withdrawals as the amount of nicotine in my system was further reduced. Overall, this made quitting much easier. By the way, CVS’s generic patch system is less expensive and almost identical to the Nicoderm version. It is my experience that the patch and other nicotine replacements will not work if you don’t follow the instructions.
    • Hypnosis-ish. I downloaded an app by award winning Clinical Hypnotherapist Max Kirsten that offered a form of in-app hypnosis to help me quit smoking. Even if it was only a placebo effect, I think the meditative qualities of this app made quitting much, much easier. I used it daily for a few months. You can get the app here.
    • Three deep breaths. When I first quit, I would take three very deep breaths every 30 minutes or so, holding each breath for 8-10 seconds. This increased the oxygen in my blood, imitated the deep breathing associated with a cigarette drag, and absolutely killed cravings. In fact, though I slowly stopped doing this as frequently after the first few months, I would still do it whenever I had a bad craving. It really killed cravings almost immediately.
    • Kept track. I used an app to keep track of my progress quitting. I prefer the iQuit app for iPhone. It kept track of how long it had been since my last smoke, how much money I had saved, how many cigarettes I had skipped, and more.
    • Accountability. It is much easier to quit when you tell everyone in your life you are quitting. I used social media for this purpose and updated folks daily for week one, then weekly, and then monthly. I told the smokers in my life they were not to give me a cigarette under any circumstances. The support has been fantastic. By the time I reached 7 months, I was forgetting that another month had passed.
    • Exit plans. I rarely put myself in situations where I would be around lots of smokers unless absolutely necessary and if I did, I always had a plan for how I could extricate myself if cravings became too intense.
    • Educated myself. I used whyquit.com as a resource and read everything I could get my hands on about quitting smoking and the dangers of smoking. This particular website encourages only cold turkey quits but even though that isn’t how I quit, the info and pointers were/are very helpful.
    • No big deals. It is imperative to understand that there are really no big deals in life worth smoking over. Early quitting is like torture. If I accept the fact that there is nothing left in the world to smoke over — no big deals a cigarette can fix — quitting is much, much easier.
    • Easier than quitting. I know from experience that staying quit is much easier than quitting itself and that if I were to smoke again, who knows how long it would be until I was able to quit again. Staying quit is easier than quitting. In other words, not picking up a cigarette is much easier than putting down that last cigarette.
    • No matter what. I just don’t smoke NO MATTER WHAT.

    That about covers it. If I think of anything else to include I’ll edit the post with additions. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. If you’ve quit smoking for good, be sure to post a comment telling me how you did it and how long it’s been since your final smoke.

    P.S. You’re fooling yourself if you think those new fangled water vapor e-cigarettes will help you quit smoking. It may be marginally healthier (no carbon monoxide and a reduction in certain harmful chemicals) but nicotine is still the active, addictive ingredient and it is still very bad for your heart. Furthermore, there is no way to measure how much nicotine you are ingesting with an e-cigarette so there is no effective way to wean yourself off of the addictive drug like with the gum or patch. It should also be noted that the FDA is seeking regulatory authority over e-ciggaretts just as it has over tobacco cigarettes.

     

    ACTION ALERT: Repeal D.C.’s New Gym Membership Tax

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  • Stop DC's Fitness Tax

    In case you hadn’t heard, the D.C. City Council passed a fitness tax on Wednesday night targeting gyms and yoga studios. You probably didn’t hear about it and the tax’s proponent D.C. City Council Chairman Phil Mendolson doesn’t give a shit:

    Asked if giving the public just 18 hours notice between the [gym tax] proposal and its vote, Mendelson argued that the [fitness tax] has been public since it was included in a set of Tax Revision Commission recommendations released in December.

    “The burden is on the public to pay attention to what we’re doing,” Mendelson told a gym owner who confronted him in the council chamber.

    Anyway, I’m not sure what can be done now that the Council has already voted but I encourage all D.C. residents to contact their Councilmembers (for their district and each of the at-large members) and ask that the fitness tax be repealed before it goes into effect. Here’s the letter I sent my Councilmembers:

    Dear Semi-Esteemed D.C. City Councilmembers:

    First, let me say that I don’t typically write my elected officials. Not because I have no concerns on issues of the day. Quite the contrary. The reason I hardly write is because I know the person reading such correspondence already works too damn hard for too little money to deal with my petty concerns. I work in politics and government — I know a thing or two about government correspondence and understand you need another email like you need another hole in your head.

    That being said, I am writing to you today since you represent either my home district or are at-large members of the D.C. City Council. I strongly oppose the fitness tax passed by the Council on Wednesday. Fitness clubs are a critical sector of the city’s economy. They create jobs, generate tax revenue, and serve as vibrant community gathering spots. In addition, they are forces for healthy living. At a time when obesity remains a major public health risk, there is little public good to be gained from making health and fitness even more expensive. In case you weren’t aware, the cost of living in D.C. is soaring. Why make it any harder on those of us already struggling to get by, pay our taxes, and live a healthy life?

    Do you really think First Lady Michelle Obama would say, “You know, when I launched the ‘Let’s Move’ initiative, I never considered we could fund our government on the backs of people trying to live healthier lives. What a great idea!”

    What’s next? A tax on health foods? Joggers? Bicyclists? Women who wear athletic sneakers to and from work but nicer dress shoes while in the office? Is the goal of the Council to get their constituents as sedentary, lethargic, and plump as possible so that we can no longer build up the energy to attend Council meetings in person let alone raise our increasingly fat fingers to our keyboards in order to type angry emails to D.C.’s public officials?

    I urge you to reconsider and repeal the fitness tax before it goes into effect. Let’s keep D.C. focused on continuing to become a more healthy and active city. After all, our sidewalks just won’t be wide enough for tourists and locals if we’re all clinically obese.

    Sincerely,

    Karl Frisch
    Street Address
    City, State Zip
    Phone Number

    P.S. I’m what most would consider “fat,” “round,” “husky,” “pudgy,” “big,” or “large.” Don’t make it harder for me to get healthy. Do the right thing.

     

    Youth Program That Changed My Life Needs Your Help

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  • Youth Program That Changed My Life Needs Your Support

    This will only take a few minutes of your time so please continue reading. You won’t regret it, I promise.

    I’ve been involved in the political world for most of my life, but that wasn’t always the case. It wasn’t until I joined the California YMCA Youth & Government program as a high school sophomore that my passion for politics and government really took hold.

    And so, each year I raise money to help students participate in the program who may not have the funds to do so otherwise. Can I count on your help to reach my $1500 fundraising goal by Friday, February 14 with a tax-deductible donation of $25, $50, $100, or whatever you can afford?

    Click here to donate: http://bit.ly/YMCA-Karl-Frisch (Under “Solicitor” be sure to select my name.)

    Not only did the program make me aware of the problems facing my home state of California and the nation as a whole, but it also taught me different techniques for creating change within the system. Perhaps most rewarding, I made so many friends as a participant in the program — friends that have lasted long into my adult life — from such geographically, racially, and socioeconomically diverse backgrounds that I would have otherwise never met growing up.

    Each year more than 2,000 high school students from throughout California come together to discuss, debate and legislate issues of great importance not only to themselves but to their communities as well. They run for statewide offices like Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State, serve on the State Supreme Court and work as Senators and Assemblymembers in the actual State Capitol legislative chambers.

    Participants spend September to mid-February at local weekly meetings learning how laws are made, how they are enforced and how to draft and pass their own legislation. They attend two weekend training conferences in central California, learning ethics, parliamentary procedure, the functions of government and, most of all, how to perform the real-life roles of the elected officials they will model at the final five-day conference where they take over the state Capitol in Sacramento.

    However, the program is expensive. Even though it is largely run by hundreds of adult volunteers (most of whom pay their own way to conferences), with only a handful of full-time paid staff, the costs are still formidable. That’s where YOU come in. While many economically disadvantaged teens have scholarships available to help defray costs, even middle-income teens sometimes have trouble raising the necessary funds.

    This year I have the privilege of helping to support this important program – a program that changed my life forever – as a volunteer for the Annual Support Campaign. Nearly 200 volunteers (mostly adults) are trying to raise more than $300,000 to help underwrite the program and provide scholarships for those who cannot otherwise afford this amazing experience.

    My personal goal is to raise $1500 by this Friday, February 14, and although my fund raising experience consists mostly of helping political campaigns, I feel confident that with your modest tax-deductible contribution of $25, $50, $100 or whatever you can afford, I will be successful.

    Click here to donate: http://bit.ly/YMCA-Karl-Frisch (Under “Solicitor” be sure to select my name.)

    I hope that you will consider making a donation to California YMCA Youth & Government by Friday’s noon fundraising deadline (on February 14th). You can make a one-time or recurring tax-deductible donation using the links in this blog post.

    Like me, you probably receive many appeals each year. This is a program, however, where every contribution, whatever its size, truly does make a difference. Thank you in advance for your consideration of this important request for help.

    The program’s motto is “Democracy Must Be Learned by Each Generation,” and with your financial support today, California YMCA Youth & Government can make that motto a reality for years to come.

    Click here to donate: http://bit.ly/YMCA-Karl-Frisch (Under “Solicitor” be sure to select my name.)

    If you have any questions please feel free to contact me directly.

    Sincerely,

    Karl Frisch

    Former California YMCA Youth & Government Governor’s Cabinet Member (1994), State Senator (1995), Lieutenant Governor (1996), CONA Delegate (1994-1996), CONA Presiding Officer (1997).

    If someone from the program has already contacted you seeking support, please disregard this message and help them out.

     

    Sen. Ted Cruz Isn’t Here to Make Friends Y’all

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  • Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has a lot in common with reality television stars. He likes to create self-serving drama and, apparently, he’s not here to make friends. This shot and chaser courtesy of my buddy Sam Nitz.

    SHOT: “And, you know, I’m not serving in office because I desperately needed 99 new friends in the U.S. Senate.” – Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)

    CHASER:

     

    It’s Official: I’m Getting Hitched…Read all the Details

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  • Now that I’ve used a cruel trick to get your attention, I implore you to read on. It will only take a few minutes of your time, I promise.

    Today is “National Coming Out Day” — a day when gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people let their truth be known. On this day, we gay folk are supposed to tell heterosexual people like you that we are of the LGBT variety.

    For a decade now, my friends and family have known that I am gay and each year it becomes harder and harder to think of someone who might not know that I play for the other team. So, instead I use “National Coming Out Day” as an opportunity to spread awareness about some alarming facts even our fiercest gay allies may not know about.

    Continue reading …

     

    Get Your Tickets: Karl Emceeing 66th ADA Awards Banquet

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  • I'm Emceeing the ADA Awards Banquet -- Get Your Tickets

    I’m excited to announce that I will be emceeing the 66th Annual Americans for Democratic Action Awards Banquet on Wednesday, June 26, 2013. Go get your tickets today! The event will be at the Hyatt Regency Washington.

    This year, Americans for Democratic Action will honor Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change, with the Bayard Rustin Citizen of Change Award. For well over a decade, Robinson has helped mobilize communities across the country to create more inclusive cultural and political institutions.

    Americans for Democratic Action will also recognize U.S. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa with the Frances Perkins Award for Public Service. For over 40 years, Senator Harkin has fought passionately to improve the quality of life for Americans with disabilities and their families, to reform our education system and ensure that every American has access to affordable health care.

    I’m excited to be on hand as ADA honors these progressive champions, and many others and hope that you’ll consider buying a ticket so you can be there as well. Get your ticket today on Americans for Democratic Action’s website.

     

    Youth Program That Changed My Life Needs Your Support

  • Share
  • Youth Program That Changed My Life Needs Your Support

    This will only take a few minutes of your time so please continue reading. You won’t regret it, I promise.

    I’ve been involved in the political world for most of my life now, but that wasn’t always the case. It wasn’t until I joined the California YMCA Youth & Government program as a high school sophomore that my passion for politics and government really took hold.

    And so, each year I raise money to help students participate in the program who may not have the funds to do so otherwise. Can I count on your help to reach my $1500 fundraising goal with a tax-deductible donation of $25, $50, $100 or whatever you can afford?

    Click here to donate: http://bit.ly/YMCA-Karl-Frisch (Under “Solicitor” be sure to select my name.)

    Not only did the program make me aware of the problems facing my home state of California and the nation as a whole, but it also taught me different techniques for making changes within the system. Perhaps most rewarding, I made so many friends as a participant in the program – friends that have lasted long into my adult life – from such geographically, racially, and socioeconomically diverse backgrounds that I would have otherwise never met growing up.

    Each year more than 2,000 high school students from throughout California come together to discuss, debate and legislate issues of great importance not only to themselves but to their communities as well. They run for statewide offices like Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State, serve on the State Supreme Court and work as Senators and Assemblymembers in the actual State Capitol legislative chambers.

    Participants spend September to mid-February at local weekly meetings learning how laws are made, how they are enforced and how to draft and pass their own legislation. They attend two weekend training conferences in central California, learning ethics, parliamentary procedure, the functions of government and, most of all, how to perform the real-life roles of the elected officials they will model at the final five-day conference where they take over the state Capitol in Sacramento.

    However, the program is expensive. Even though it is largely run by hundreds of adult volunteers (most of whom pay their own way to conferences), with only a handful of full-time paid staff, the costs are still formidable. That’s where YOU come in. While many economically disadvantaged teens have scholarships available to help defray costs, even middle-income teens sometimes have trouble raising the necessary funds.

    This year I have the privilege of helping to support this important program – a program that changed my life forever – as a volunteer for the Annual Support Campaign. Nearly 200 volunteers (mostly adults) are trying to raise more than $300,000 to help underwrite the program and provide scholarships for those who cannot otherwise afford this amazing experience.

    My personal goal is to raise $1500 and although my fund raising experience consists mostly of helping political campaigns, I feel confident that with your modest tax-deductible contribution of $25, $50, $100 or whatever you can afford, I will be successful.

    Click here to donate: http://bit.ly/YMCA-Karl-Frisch (Under “Solicitor” be sure to select my name.)

    I hope that you will consider making a donation to California YMCA Youth & Government by Friday’s noon fundraising deadline (on February 15th). You can make a one-time or recurring tax-deductible donation using the links in this blog post.

    Like me, you probably receive many appeals each year. This is a program, however, where every contribution, whatever its size, truly does make a difference. Thank you in advance for your consideration of this important request for help.

    The program’s motto is “Democracy Must Be Learned by Each Generation,” and with your financial support today, California YMCA Youth & Government can make that motto a reality for years to come.

    Click here to donate: http://bit.ly/YMCA-Karl-Frisch (Under “Solicitor” be sure to select my name.)

    If you have any questions please feel free to contact me directly.

    Sincerely,

    Karl Frisch

    Former California YMCA Youth & Government Governor’s Cabinet Member (1994), State Senator (1995), Lieutenant Governor (1996), CONA Delegate (1994-1996), CONA Presiding Officer (1997).

    If someone from the program has already contacted you seeking support, please disregard this message and help them out.

     

    Karl’s Photos/Videos from Obama Inauguration 2.0

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  • To say that I am exhausted from all of the inaugural festivities would be an understatement of epic proportions. Yes, I’m super tired though I had an amazing time from beginning to end. Here are my photos and videos from the swearing in ceremony, official inaugural ball, and Obama for America staff inaugural ball.

    I’ve posted some of the videos I took after the jump.
    Continue reading …

     
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