12 Reasons Why I Care about Marriage Equality & Gay Rights

    A far from complete list, in no particular order:
  1. Rosita and her partner having me witness their wills since they needed some form of legal protection as a couple who can't marry.
  2. Jen avoiding using her fiancee's name while interviewing by phone for a job in another city despite needing to discuss the move for her fiancee's studies.
  3. Shelley carefully disguising written materials she was sending to lesbians in countries hostile to LGBT people to avoid endangering these women.
  4. Steve being afraid to walk home each night for fear of being attacked.
  5. Nancy not being able to be on her girlfriend's health insurance.
  6. Jennifer's family rejecting her.
  7. Larry saying he'd used his military training to protect himself against gay bashing attacks.
  8. Coworkers who've looked anxious when first mentioning to me that they're gay.
  9. Frank enduring years of turmoil, not being able to accept himself as a gay man until his 50's.
  10. Brian telling me about the rose from a romantic high school boyfriend, adding that "of course I gave it back to him before I went into the house."
  11. Seeing how many lesbians at the UN Conference on Women in Beijing were the driving force behind initiatives helping women of all walks of life, yet hearing some women insist "we don't have lesbians in our countries."
  12. Cousin Laura

Reversing Rust Belt brain drain: Tracy on Cleveland public radio's ideastream

When is moving back to your hometown newsworthy? When that town is in the Rust Belt, which has not only lost industrial jobs but educated professionals like myself who sought opportunity elsewhere.

I'm a "boomerang" -- someone who moves away and then comes back, which in my case was after nearly 17 years in Geneva, Switzerland, New York City and Washington, DC. Boomerangs are key to depressed areas regaining their economic and cultural strength. We know our home cities well but bring back new ideas, skills and experience.

Cleveland's exciting mix of community-building initiatives drew me back. The Gordon Square Arts District, where I'm volunteering my time, has garnered national media attention for using the arts to apply "economic shock paddles" to a struggling area. Others include Ingenuity Fest's unique blend of the arts and a gritty but beautiful location, a myriad of sustainable urban agriculture projects like Community Greenhouse Partners, and a community development corporation model that is studied across the nation.

Now Clevelanders are working to draw more people like me back to affordable living costs, a growing healthcare sector, one of the nation's best metropolitan park systems, stellar arts institutions like the world famous Cleveland Orchestra, some of the best libraries in the US, and rich mix of ethnic cultures -- complete with the restaurants and markets that go with them.

I participated in the recent Global Cleveland Summit, which kicked off an initiative to draw "boomerangs" and international newcomers to Cleveland to revitalize our city and take it in new directions. I talked with a public radio reporter about why I'm back: Northeast Ohio Tries to Bring Back the Rust Belt Refugees / ideastream - Northeast Ohio Public Radio, Television and Multiple Media

NOTE: If you've boomeranged back to Cleveland, drop me a line. I'm planning a gathering to celebrate our return and to share our experiences.