August 13, 2008

August 13, 2008
Dare to Make a Difference

Thanks for checking out a day in my life. If you read my blog regularly, you know I am currently on bed rest due to some health problems. I do miss getting out and about seeing friends and traveling places but there has been a big advantage to this doctor ordered rest time. I have plenty of time to rest and a rare opportunity for self reflection and inspection. So for those of you who I normally see every month, I want to send a big daddy hug and hopefully we will be together again soon.

Many of you know that I have been an activist in the GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender) and HIV/AIDS communities since the late 1970s. I also knew from a very young age, roughly age 5 or 6, that I felt differently about boys and girls than the other boys. It wasn't until I was much older than I learned the labels gay and faggot. Then I found out at a very young age that I was also HIV positive and in those days it was considered a death sentence. So I know what it feels like to be different than most at best and as a doomed soul and abomination at worst. I guess that experience has taught me not to judge others and to look at the good in their lives. So following that train of thought, I would like to share the following story with you which I read today. It's a story about a woman who took what some would see as an adversity and turned it into a positive to help other people.

A woman who grew to be 7 feet, 7 inches tall and was recognized as the world's tallest female died Wednesday, a friend said. She was 53. Sandy Allen, who used her height to inspire schoolchildren to accept those who are different, died at a nursing home in her hometown of Shelbyville. The cause of death was not yet known. Allen had been hospitalized in recent months as she suffered from a recurring blood infection, along with diabetes, breathing troubles and kidney failure. Guinness World Records spokesman Damian Field confirmed Wednesday that Allen was still listed as the tallest woman. Some Web sites cite a 7-foot-9 woman from China. Allen said a tumor caused her pituitary gland to produce too much growth hormone. She underwent an operation in 1977 to stop further growth. But she was proud of her height and embraced it using it as a tool to educate people. Allen appeared on television shows and spoke to church and school groups to bring youngsters her message that it was all right to be different. After Allen was listed by Guinness as the world's tallest woman, she won a role in Federico Fellini's 1976 film "Casanova," appearing as "Angelina the Giantess." She was featured in the 1981 Canadian documentary "Being Different." Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said he met Allen twice. "Then, and from a distance, I admired very much the way she handled a uniquely difficult situation with uncomplaining grace," he said.

Allen weighed 6-1/2 pounds when she was born in June 1955. By the age of 10 she had grown to be 6-foot-3, and by age 16 she was 7-1. She wrote to Guinness World Records in 1974, saying she would like to get to know someone her own height. "It is needless to say my social life is practically nil and perhaps the publicity from your book may brighten my life," she wrote. The recognition as the world's tallest woman helped Allen accept her height and become less shy, Rose said. It kind of brought her out of her shell. She got to the point where she could joke about it. Difficulty with mobility had forced Allen to curtail her public speaking in recent years, Rose said. She had suffered from diabetes and other ailments and used a wheelchair to get around. So she was a wonderful loving woman who used something that most would let them defeat them to teach children and adults about being accepting of people who are different. We should all be so lucky to leave that legacy behind.

I personally admire people like her who reach out and try to make a difference in the world. Too many people today are self centered and motivated only for personal gain. I see examples of people being rude, racist or homophobic; not accepting responsibility for their actions and manipulating others in my work way too often for comfort. Maybe my memory is faulty but I remember people being a lot nicer and caring to each other when I was a small kid being raised in the Florida panhandle.

I've been speaking with Diane almost daily while we have both been watching the Olympics from China. We are both huge sports fans. Last night we were talking about how young the women's gymnasts from China looked. Now I know there has been some controversy surrounding the fact they make be under the minimum age of 16. Whatever their age, they gave a fantastic performance and deserved to win the gold medal. I don't think the possible underage factor had anything to do with the US girls coming in second. Their performances warranted a second place finish. Hopefully they will do better in the individual competitions.

There is also accusations of racism against the Spanish men's basketball team. They posed with "Asian eyes" for their publicity photo and it has caused an international uproar. The worst part is the Spanish men do not understand why everyone has gotten upset about them do "Asian eyes". But this is also a country where racism against African Americans is well documented. There have been several team international sporting events where complaints have been filed against Spain's athletes from soccer to basketball. The athletes say they are not being racist. But then maybe the word doesn't translate correctly? Could just be a communication problem. NOT! But at least, our country is not the only one having a problem with racism. It just depends what race is being discriminated against.

Well it is time for this daddy to head off for some more rest and recovery. But I hope you had a great day. Thanks for joining me again.

Wishing you health, hope and happiness.

Big bear hug,

Daddy Dab