I see you. I love you. I’m here for you.

Now is a really good time to support Trans Lifeline and ACLU Nationwide. I am out of patience so I won’t wax poetic about why this is so important right now in America. You should know. I shouldn’t have to explain why you should care or why this matters.

My husband said it pretty eloquently: “America is no longer a beacon of morality. We are no longer an example of functional democracy. There is a deep cultural wound that divides us, and it’s not something that can be compromised upon. There is no middle ground on civil rights. You either accept people, or you don’t.”

For all my trans friends & those brave souls who fought for a country that hasn’t fought back for them: I see you. I love you. I’m here for you. Please tell me what I can do to help. I will be RT’ing everything I can find and promoting trans voices today so hit me up on twitter.


I Have a Voice and I’m With Her: A Biography.

I am me.

I am a woman with control of my own body and the life I lead.

I am a queer cis-female married to a straight cis-male but I love all people and have always been mostly bi/pan/lesbian on any given day. I believe everyone should have the right to marry the person they love.

I am pro-choice and believe that every woman should have the option of whether they want kids or not.

I am a feminist and believe in equality for all people no matter the color of their skin, the genitals in their pants, or the gender (or no gender) that they identify as. I believe everyone should be treated with fairness and respect.

I am Pagan and believe in all faiths and send prayers to my own personal Goddess and Universe. I believe all faiths and religions and beliefs should be respected.

I am chronically ill and suffer from fibromyalgia, arthritis, and seizures as well as depression and anxiety. I believe healthcare should be accessible for all. I believe health insurance companies need to be held accountable for all the awful things they hold against victims and patients who have no advocates for themselves.

I believe in a progressive education that either teaches all religions equally or teaches no religion at all. I believe education should include the outdoors, the truth about climate change and global warming, and should embrace the idea that all cultures are important and define who we are as human beings. I believe in protecting our Earth for our children and giving them the education and tools so they may do so for their own futures.

I believe in the separation of Church and State and that the Unites States of America should NOT be defined as a Christian government and that “Under God” should not be in our Pledge of Allegiance. I may believe in your chosen God but I do not pledge my allegiance to Him.

I believe that everyone should have the right to own a gun and I believe we need more gun control and tighter restrictions that people must meet in order to buy said gun.

I believe that land should belong to people and not corporations. That protecting people should always come before protecting a company. I believe that corporations and governments need more restrictions on what they can and can’t do to the land and water we depend on.

I believe in democracy and I believe our political system is corrupt.

I believe we would all do better as a species if we all spent a few weeks or months out of the year living off the grid and reconnecting with the Earth. Studying her and loving her and rediscovering all that she has given us. Not tied to wires and phones and satellites.

I believe we should give more money to NASA because we cannot be the only ones in this great big Universe and maybe those others can help teach us to be better at living our lives and seeing meaning in the little things.

I believe everyone should adopt an animal or buy a plant and learn responsibility for another living being.

I believe in trust, faith, and pixie dust. I believe in things we can’t see. I believe in Karma and in reincarnation and I’m not entirely sure but I think this may be the first time I’ve been human because I still get very confused over daily human life.

I am afraid for the future of our world. I am afraid for our children’s children. I am afraid for the Earth and all the damage that is being done for her. I am afraid not enough is being done to save the Great Barrier Reef or the Arctic ice at the North Pole or Antarctica in the south. I am afraid I am only one person and that I am not enough to make a difference in what’s important.

I am afraid I won’t leave a legacy behind and I am most afraid that my name will not be remembered after I’m gone. My name is Nicole Joanna Audrey Jeske and I don’t want to be forgotten.

Husband and I voting.

I write this because I want you to know who I am. I want you to understand what I am fighting for and why today’s election is so important to me. Politics are personal, no matter what anyone tells you. People vote with their beliefs, with their heart.

I am a white, queer Pagan woman married to an outspoken liberal atheist man. I have a Jewish non-binary trans best friend and a beautiful nose-pierced baking pseudo-wife who are my heart and soul. I am made of the Love that surrounds me, it makes my heart continue to beat every day. I fight for these people, for my friends, for my family, for my community.

This election year has been one filled with much hate and contention. I have unfriended and even blocked several people this year on social media. Not for who they are voting for – but because of things they have said or done or posted in the name of politics. Because I cannot abide by hate. I cannot stand by and watch an old friend post a video of lighting a Pride flag on fire and stating they wished they could do this to “the abomination of gays.” I will not remain in ties to someone who posts that trans people should have their genitals mutilated to “show them who’s boss.” I will not continue to be “Facebook friends” with someone who shares anti-Muslim, anti-trans people, anti-gay, anti-POC, anti-equality anything. I cannot be friends with anyone so hateful and hurtful who would actively go out of their way to do others harm simply because they are different.

Inauguration 2009

On the National Mall for the Inauguration of Barack Obama, January 2009.

So I want to you to know who I am. And if you don’t like who I am, and you oppose the things that make me who I am, you are free to distance yourself from me. Chances are, we aren’t that great of friends anyway. I won’t hate you for who you vote for, but if you’re voting for someone because you actively and vocally spew hatred for another group of people you share this Earth with, I will not stand with you.

Today is going to be a very long and stressful day. I’ll be sending out as much Love into the Universe as I can.
Please join me.

Love wins!
For the last few months, my feelings about marriage were conflicting. Wait, let me say that better. My feelings about my sudden newfound ability to get married were conflicting. I had only been in relationships with women for about nine years before Jake came along (and yes, I realize I haven’t updated in almost a year – A LOT HAS CHANGED). I always thought that if I were to get married, it would be to a woman I love. Therefore, marriage wasn’t something we could have without a fight. When Jake asked me to marry him back in April, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that I wanted to, but it came with a feeling in the pit of my stomach that I slowly began to recognize as guilt. All of a sudden, I had a right that I hadn’t had for a long time, simply because I was with a man. I hated how easy it had suddenly all become. There was (and still is) a lot of identity struggles over my now seemingly hetero-looking relationship, but this is what brought me the most guilt. But just because I now found myself with the law on my side didn’t mean I would stop trying to change that law. And when Jake and I started planning our wedding, we immediately started incorporating LGBT-support into it – we found equal rights stickers to put on tables, rainbow ribbons for guests to wear, and we were going to put out tip jars to nonprofits working to improve the rights of queer couples. We are still planning on doing as much as we can, but there’s a huge difference now.

Love won. Love won and now every couple can walk through those doors and marry the partner of their choosing, regardless of gender. I woke up to texts and emails and just lay in bed sobbing because I didn’t believe this would happen. I’d grown cynical over the years and didn’t actually think it would happen. But it did. Nothing will change in regard to the support we will show at our wedding, but the knowledge that love has won this day will make our day that much more special. I may not be in a same-sex relationship anymore and maybe some think this should no longer matter to me like it did before, but it does. In a way, it matters to me even more now because in no way was my last relationship of six years with my girlfriend (and domestic partner) less legit than my relationship with my fiancé now. I remember being with my girlfriend and crying over how unfair it was. And when Jake and I started planning out our wedding, it hurt over how easy everything was – how unjust that we could just do this because we LOOKED like a straight couple. I love him with all my heart but it wasn’t fair that suddenly I could have this just because he’s a man. It made me angry – angrier than I had ever been about marriage before. It wasn’t fair. I’m still as queer as I was before I met him and I vowed to never give up on this fight.

And now we won. The battle has been won. The fight is far from over, but today, love won out. And this right to get married and be recognized is shared by all couples. My heart is so full this morning. I don’t think I can adequately explain all the feelings I have inside but today I feel whole. I should not have doubted. I am so glad that the Supreme Court proved me wrong and that there is more good in the world and in our justice system than I gave them credit for. It is a good reminder.

Love Wins!

Today love won. Love is genderless and fluid and beautiful and now it is recognized. I think today I am going to spend some time working on our wedding site in celebration. Rainbows and glitter and unicorns for everyone!!

0-31: Another loss for Civil Rights.

Me and My SunshineI could say it doesn’t matter. That we’ll get them next time. That this doesn’t mean anything in the long run. I could try and convince you that this was a mistake and people really don’t think this way. But I’d really just be trying to convince myself. My faith is wavering a little under these staggering statistics. 31 times gay marriage showed up on the ballot. And despite all the knocking on doors, all the blog posts, and rallies and pride events and positive media attention, all the love and support we received, 31 times, THIRTY-ONE times. We were shot down. Denied the rights that every human being should be born with. This isn’t about religion. Marriage is no longer conducted only within a church.  This isn’t about showing off wedding rings and picking out floral centerpieces. This isn’t about anybody else but us. Our rights to be with the ones we love. This is about people recognizing that as an accepted reality. This is about our government giving us the basic rights that other married couples have. It’s about commitment, and family, and dedication. It’s about sharing a bond and being able to proudly introduce a husband or wife. It’s about not being afraid. And sure, it’s about the tax benefits, and the employment benefits, and government benefits, and being able to see each other in the hospital, and buying a house together, and filing for adoption together, and being seen as a real, honest-to-goodness family, but most of all, most of all it’s about Love.

I could say that none of it really matters because Love isn’t something anyone can deny you. It won’t stop us from carrying on with our lives. It won’t cause us to break down and decide that it’s better off being straight than gay. I’m not going to run away and push my head in the sand and pretend I never liked girls. So it shouldn’t matter, right? I should just brush it off. But I can’t. It does matter. It matters to me and my girlfriend and every couple out there that is being treated like a second-class citizen. And what for? Why are we being treated with such disrespect? Like we’re not good enough to love? Because of bigotry. Because despite our freedom for and from religion, we are still being forced into a box controlled by what other people believe. We are not allowed to have our beliefs if they interfere with the majority. There always has to be sides, it seems, and our government thinks it’s fair to allow the majority to dictate how everyone should live their lives. Our country is slowly losing its identity as the Melting Pot. Conformity is the majority and if you don’t fit in that box, you’re shot down.

It does matter. Losing 31 out of 31 times matters. It’s a heavy weight on the heart. They whisper “Someday” but I’m sick of waiting for “Someday” to arrive. We deserve it now.

Me and My Sunshine

But patience is a virtue, and so is perseverance. We’ll keep fighting, keep talking, keep waving our rainbow flags in the air defiantly. We’ll hoot and holler in your face at every parade and every protest. I’ll keep living the life I’m living. I’ll keep waking up next to my girlfriend every morning and remembering every moment just why I fell in love with her. And I’ll keep questioning why. Why are we not equal? Why are we not seen as a real family? And I’ll keep looking for answers.

And I’ll keep telling myself it’s okay. We’ll get them next time.

Blogging for LGBT Families Day!

Today is the official Blogging for LGBT Families Day, put together by Dana of Mombian. In lieu of the recent events of allowing same-sex marriages in several states and the awful continuation of Prop 8 in California, I feel that this day is an important recognition of the love and commitment that so many families – gay, lesbian, or straight – have shared with the rest of the world.

I am a lesbian in a very loving relationship with my girlfriend of (almost) two years. While we don’t have a conventional family, we do have a lot of kids: Spunky, Zane, Akima, Merlin, Drake, Nate, Chunky, Morgan, Meetu, Sahara, Phoebe, Kendi, Galileo, and Aristotle. One dog, three cats, two ferrets, three rats, two leopard geckos, one ball python, and two lovely fish. No, no human children yet, but it is something that we have discussed and we both agree and want to have children. She wants twin boys, I want a little girl, but I know that no matter what gender we finally have, we will love him or her unconditionally. That is what a family is – a tight bond of love that flows without limits. To those who feel that they have the right to say that some people do not deserve that sort of family and that sort of love, I would like to them to think about what life would be like being denied it simply because someone had a different opinion.

The main argument against same-sex marriage is that homosexuality is a sin within the bible. While I’d like to see it in writing other than in the Old Testament, I’d also like to know when the USA (and the world) had become a place with just one religion. To deny a family to be complete with marriage simply because ONE religious text says it is not right is not only taking away what should be an equal right for all, but also takes away a person’s freedom of and from religion. Ash and I have a family that is open and loving and cares for all things and believes in many things. We don’t have a conventional family or a conventional relationship or a conventional view on life, but who can possibly say what is conventional in this day and age, especially in the melting pot that is America.

Families come in all shapes and sizes, colors and genders, traditions and cultures, and each deserves the respect and rights that all families are entitled to. Lesbian and gay families, and all untraditional families, have the same rights to happiness and love that everyone does, and until that fact is recognized for what it is, we shall continue to fight and celebrate days like today. That is why I am blogging today in honor of LGBT Families Day: I have one and I know many more and there is no shortage of love when it comes to these wonderful close-knit families.

Life is good and it just keeps getting better.

Blogging for LGBT Families

GLBT Inclusion in Outdoor Education

So I posted a version of this awhile ago, but I just completed my seminar and I thought I would post my revised presentation “Inclusion of GLBT Youth into Outdoor Education” here for your reading pleasure. The biggest change was that I made it more personal for my place of work (the Hartley Nature Center) Feel free to comment and let me know what you think.

The seminar itself went well and I got very positive feedback. I had a powerpoint with it as well, but eh. Keep reading to see my thoughts on this subject.

Click here to continue reading this article.

Creating safe spaces for Gay Youth

I’ve been doing more research for a seminar I’m conducting on Friday and I just thought I’d make mention of this because it’s such an important topic. Safe spaces (in schools and other organizations) are needed wherever you may be.

“Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender young people are increasingly visible in our schools. Why? Probably partly because young people in general are reaching puberty at younger ages than they did in generations past. And probably partly because sexual minority young people are growing up in the midst of a civil rights movement, feeling both an urgency and an increasing sense of community in their normal adolescent quests for identity and integrity. Recent studies have shown that, on average, lesbian and gay youth first become aware of their same-gender attractions at an average of 9-10 years old and first identify as lesbian or gay at an average of 14-16 years old. “

Safe Schools Coalition.

I’m currently talking to my boss about creating our Nature Center into a known safe space here in Duluth, MN. Wish me luck. It’s looking like it is very likely. Safe Spaces are simply places that acknowledge, actively support, and challenge discrimination for QLBT youth. I believe that more programs and organizations, including schools (from K-college), should be trained in having safe spaces and in knowing more about the unique individual needs of GLBT youth. It shouldn’t be that hard right? So why is it that so many places don’t feel the need to speak up about this? FIGHT! We need Safe Spaces.

Also, for more information on creating safe spaces and tips for organizations and communities who want to become more involved with the inclusion of GLBT youth, download this: Creating Safe Spaces for GLBTQ Youth: A Tool Kit. It’s a great document to have with you, very informative and helpful. Why not show your boss or head of your favorite organization?

Every step helps.

The presidential forum

Yesterday was August 9th, the day of the Presidential Forum.

It was, to say the least, incredibly insightful into the thoughts of some of our presidential candidates on some of the bigger GLBT issues.

I’m not going to go into what I really thought about it. I’ve been sick and therefore half asleep when I watched it, and I want to re-watch some of the key points before I attempt any sort of write-up. My head’s been full of fluff and the lack-of-breathing I’ve been doing has gotten to me. But, I shall give you this much.

Dana Rudolph, from the blog Mombian, wrote an wonderful commentary with her thoughts about the candidates here. It’s definitely worth a read whether you watched the forum or not because she goes pretty in depth on where each candidate stands.

Right. Give it some thoughts.

Political Babble about the Matthew Shepard Act.

If any of you are familiar with Fair Wisconsin, then you probably already know this.

On May 3, the House of Representatives voted 237-180 in favor of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This act is also more commonly known as the Matthew Shepard Act. It includes protection for gay, lesbian and transgender individuals who are victims of hate crimes, which is something that should have long been included in law enforcement. It’s sad that it has only now come into play.

This bill is now being sent over to the Senate, which is thought to have enough democratic support to be passed. Unfortunately, the conservatives (or most) are pushing for President Bush to veto it if voted in favor of. Since we have all know how the President feels about this, it will most likely happen.

But what can we do to stop him? Fair Wisconsin and its allies are calling on Bush to meet with the families of those who have suffered from hate crimes due to sexuality and gender. There are action networks being created all over the country, and if you just look for your state’s GLBT support group, I’m sure you’ll find a way to help out.

So why would people want to stop a hate crime bill from being passed? Oh I suppose that means they can’t say prejudice things against gay people! Oh what a pitty. Many conservative groups are afraid that this is going to take away their rights in saying hurtful things to those they oppose. Uh huh.

You know, sometimes I find it really hard to understand the world.

What is your definition of equality?

Another one bites the dust. Political Rant.

There are times when I feel like this country takes giant steps backwards. The US is suppose to be a progressive country right? Is it? I think that’s seriously up for debate. But I think that’s something that should be looked at more thoroughly than what I have time for right now. But here’s a small example:

“A group of Gig Harbor High School students staged a protest during class hours Monday, criticizing the school’s use of video cameras that caught two girls kissing and holding hands.

“As many as four dozen students risked an unexcused absence to call attention to what they said was discrimination against lesbian students.

“Some called for Keith Nelson, the dean of students, to be fired for showing the video to the parents of one of the girls in February. The parents of that girl, a junior, withdrew her from school. She’s now attending at a campus outside the district.”

Article from The News Tribune: Students skip classes to Protest.

I don’t understand this. They would never show a tape of a boy and a girl kissing, despite what the principal would say. I’m sure there have been dozens of kisses in that lunchroom and this is the first time something like this has happened for the soul reason of it being a kiss between two girls. Not only is this horrible for their own privacy, but this is a step back in treating people equally; and this includes enforcing rules on everyone. Not just those who swim outside the mainstream of society’s norms.

You know, schools should be a safe place. Not one where you have to fear discrimination from your own teacheres. Apparently the dean isn’t even being fired, just relocated, and the school administrators aren’t even admitting that it was because of this situation.

Privacy shouldn’t have to come with a price.