I blog about environmental and social justice issues because I am very concerned about the health of the interdependent web of life of which we are a part.

Melting Arctic ice.......beautiful and frightening!

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Friday, August 31, 2012

Edible Landscaping

I posted on Vancouver's plans to plant more trees several days ago. To refresh your memory:
Plans call for the first batch, including some fruit and nut trees, to be split roughly equally between parks, streets and private property. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/forests-not-just-for-tree-huggers-in-vancouver/article4498724/
Weaving edible plants into the landscape is an old idea made new. Rosalind Creasey has been preaching and practicing edible landscaping for years.  I bought her book, Edible Landscaping, back in the Dark Ages.   1982 to be exact......

This is a pic of the plants to the right of my front gate.  I planted rhubarb in this location  this spring as it is in front of a Yellow Ribbon cedar I water quite a bit; transplanted alpine strawberries raised from a packet of seed twenty years ago in front of the rhubarb that have since flung themselves around the yard indiscriminately;  and filled in with some parsley seedlings . It looks very  pretty;  I've eaten  LOTS of parsley from two plants all season, and I'm anticipating picking rhubarb early next spring.

Maybe I'll even have rhubarb  to preserve.  MMMnnnnnnn!  I feel like a Gwen Stefani song at the thought:  yummy from head to toe!  Ding ding!

Rosalind has a website devoted to edible landscaping - with lovely, lovely pictures of mouthwatering gardens. You'll find it at:


Check it out - you'll be enchanted, I promise.  You'll be inspired to grow your veggies and fruit.   Food doesn't get more local than out of your garden or your balcony - and by growing your own food , you'll reduce your carbon footprint,    prevent climate change, and improve your mood.  

Thursday, August 30, 2012

More Good News...

Water is scarce in Peru - and getting scarcer.  Climate change is melting glaciers in the Andes and therefore, worsening water woes.  
Like the poles, the Andes are unusually sensitive to climate change, with areas above 12,000 feet expected to experience particularly strong rises in the mercury. In the last 25 years, average recorded temperatures on Antisana have already jumped by 1 degree Fahrenheit.     http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/120716/the-vanishing-andean-glaciers   

This isn't the good news:  please watch the video below.


Isn't that an innovative solution to water shortages?

Moreover, the Nature Conservancy is working to mitigate water shortages in the Andes. It

is supporting the creation of Aquafondo, the Lima Water Fund, together with Grupo GEA and the Fondo de Las Américas (FONDAM). Similar to the Quito and Bogotá water funds the Conservancy has helped establish in Ecuador and Colombia, the Lima Water Fund will use contributions from major water users in Lima to finance conservation projects  that protect and restore the rivers and watersheds that the city depends on.
One could donate to the Nature Conservancy to aid this work - no?
 And we , especially in Kamloops, could use less water here at home.
 Kamloopsians are the most profligate water uses in BC : reducing consumption would reduce pressure on our ecosystems.  Just a thought ......

If humans consume more water than is
naturally replenished in our ecosystem,
we are behaving unethically.  What makes us the most
important species on the planet - except hubris?

What we do to others, we do to ourselves.

Good News For A Change!

A friend asked me the other day, rather sharply,  if I ever have any good news after listening to my moan about the record losses of  Arctic sea ice.   So for a few days I've looked for positive signs - and here's one of them!

The city of Vancouver has plans to plant trees - a lot of trees. (I took the photo in Van Dusen Gardens.)
Tree-starved blocks could gain some colour, as the city develops an urban forest management plan and begins planting a planned 150,000 trees by 2020....I think it’s really good to do trees,” Prof. Condon said. “It would be better if they were thought of as a direct way to infiltrate stormwater and sequester pollutants.”   http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/forests-not-just-for-tree-huggers-in-vancouver/article4498724/
Why is this good news?
Since a tree is half carbon, trees represent one of the best ways to extract carbon (which enters the tree as CO2) from the air. The Kyoto Protocol recognizes this and recognizes afforestation for sequestration (absorption) purposes.              http://www.treecanada.ca/site/?page=programs_gca&lang=en
Not only do trees sequester carbon, and therefore mitigate climate change,  urban forests:
 are dynamic ecosystems that provide needed environmental services by cleaning air and water helping to control stormwater, and conserving energy. They add form, structure, beauty and breathing room to urban design, reduce noise, separate incompatible uses, provide places to recreate, strengthen social cohesion, leverage community revitalization, and add economic value to our communities.   http://www.fs.fed.us/ucf/program.html
Forests also improve our health - including our mental health.
The study, which will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Affective Disorders, found that volunteers suffering from depression who took a 50-minute walk in a woodland park improved their cognition, as measured by the ability to remember a random string of digits and repeat them in reverse order, compared to those who took a walk through city streets. An earlier study found similar results in subjects who weren’t depressed.  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/fitness/why-is-walking-in-the-woods-so-good-for-you/article4209703/
Heart rate variability analysis indicated that the forest environment significantly increased parasympathetic nervous activity and significantly suppressed sympathetic activity of participants compared with the urban environment. Salivary cortisol level and pulse rate decreased markedly in the forest setting compared with the urban setting. In psychological tests, forest bathing significantly increased scores of positive feelings and significantly decreased scores of negative feelings after stimuli compared with the urban stimuli. http://www.publichealthjrnl.com/article/S0033-3506(10)00320-3/abstract

So - Vancouver 's trees will sequester carbon;  help control rainwater runoff; reduce energy use by moderating climate (think of lovely cool shade on a hot day); reduce noise; improve air quality; improve human  health; add wildlife habitat; provide food (Vancouver is planting some fruit and nut trees);  and improve and enhance  our connection to our environment.  Money well spent! 

Hmmmn -  I think I'll plant a tree myself this autumn - maybe a sour cherry - if I can figure out where to put it on my  crowded little lot.

Monday, August 27, 2012


Yes I'm shouting - but holy crap!  Arctic sea ice is at record lows in a clement summer (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/aug/27/arctic-sea-ice-shrinks-lowest-extent)  - and we're not at the end of the melt for this year!
The Arctic sea ice fell to 1.58 million square miles, or 4.10 million square kilometers, down 27,000 square miles from 2007, the lowest since satellites began measuring the ice in 1979, according to the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center.  "It's a little surprising to see the 2012 Arctic sea ice extent in August dip below the record low 2007 sea ice extent in September," said Walt Meier, a scientist with the data center.

A video of the extent of the melt ........

Why does this matter to us down south?   http://neven1.typepad.com/blog/2012/08/wasislac.html#more

Climate change models predicted the Arctic would see  ice free summers by the end of this century if we kept up burning fossil fuels .  Now it looks as if we'll see that by the end of this decade.    The IPCC models were CONSERVATIVE! Looks like we can't count on being  safely dead before climate change  bites hard unless we're 83  - today.  

We'll  see nastier, more unpredictable, even COLDER weather.  We may be faced with more pollution - Arctic ice has trapped a lot of toxins - and as it melts, where will they go? Political tensions between Arctic countries that stupidly view the melt as an opportunity to drill for oil may increase (!!!! exclamation points for that mindset).  Climate change will accelerate as permafrost melts and gives off its carbon stores and methane;   increased heat is captured by open water, and the balmy, balmy warmth melts methane clathrates.

It is to be hoped lots of folks realize this is not good at all - we need to STOP burning fossil fuels.  If  millions of us took to the streets in non violent demonstrations, governments would pay attention.

(We sure as hell don't need the Northern Gateway pipeline! )

Northern Gateway Redux

A devestating analysis of the Northern Gateway pipeline by a geologist.  David Hughes states that:
Speedy liquidation [of the Alberta tar sands]  means not only a revenue giveaway but exponential growth of pollution and water contamination. (Current mining waste liabilities already total more than $20-billion.)   
"Enbridge's rationale for the Northern Gateway Pipeline is based on its own unsubstantiated and highly optimistic projections for growth in oil sands production beyond 2025," reports Hughes. "This may serve Enbridge's corporate needs and those of its shareholders but does not consider the longer term environmental and energy security needs of Canadians."
 Ouch!   Enbridge makes more money, the Canadian public faces more pollution and water contamination, and attempts to clean up oil spills on BC 's coasts....this pipeline is not worth the risks!

You still have time to register your opposition with the Joint Review panel: please see the post below for the link.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Northern Gateway

Why oppose Enbridge's Northern Gateway piepline?

Firstly, the US National Transportation & Safety Board recently  released a report on Enbridge's 2010 Kalamzoo pipeline spill.    They were scathing in their assessment of Enbridge's culture and safety record.
"This investigation identified a complete breakdown of safety at Enbridge. Their employees performed like Keystone Kops and failed to recognize their pipeline had ruptured and continued to pump crude into the environment," said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. "Despite multiple alarms and a loss of pressure in the pipeline, for more than 17 hours and through three shifts they failed to follow their own shutdown procedures." http://www.ntsb.gov/news/2012/120710.html

 Why would Enbridge's culture suddenly  shift ?   Furthermore, their spill cleanup plans appear to be less than thorough - a slip  related to their culture of ignoring safety perhaps? 
Enbridge Inc.'s response plan for a potential spill of Northern Gateway oil into the pristine waters off British Columbia doesn't take into account the unique oil mixture the pipeline would actually carry, documents show.

Secondly, a long list of First Nations are opposed to this pipeline.  http://wcel.org/sites/default/files/First%20Nations%20that%20have%20declared%20opposition%20to%20proposed%20Enbridge%20tanker%20&%20pipeline%20project.pdf
At what point will we accept the  Delgamuukw decision and the fact that First Nations have a right to control development of their lands?

Thirdly, the tankers that will carry the dilbit through BC's very dangerous coastal waters are five times the size of the tankers delivering condensate. A master mariner familiar with these waters stated:

Kitimat operates a port situated over 100 nautical miles from the open hostile waters of the Queen Charlotte Sound and the Dixon Entrance. It is reached through navigationally difficult and narrow channels, and clearly represents a cheaper fix for the pipeline termination point for tar sands bitumen export. It shows again the lack of respect given to the power of the sea and the vagaries of human error or mechanical breakdown.

Fourthly, the Energy Return on Investment on the oil from this project is only 2:41 . In other words, the EROI is 2.41 barrels of oil out for every barrel in.   Check out the calculations on EROI of this project  at:  http://www.bcsea.org/sites/bcsea.org/files/webinars/20120522-Peter-Jacob-Gateway-EROI-Webinar.pdf   

Finally,  we need to stop burning fossil fuels.   We must - MUST! - make societal changes that reduce our dependece on fossil fuels, instead of continuing to build expensive infrastructure that
maintains and supports our dependence. 

The reasons to support this pipline are ....ummm - I can't think of any long term benefits for the public and for the planet.  Please let your provincial and federal representaives know that you oppose this project - particularly if you voted for the Right Honorable Stephen Harper!   He needs to hear from his past and  potential supporters that they are opposed to this pipeline - even if he is reading this news in the newspaper.  A poll

reveals a deep wedge between Alberta and B.C., two political pillars of Harper's majority government, and suggests a growing distance between Alberta and the rest of the country....
And it shows that Canadians outside Alberta, and especially British Columbians, don't buy the federal government's argument that the entire country benefits from oilsands expansion.
A surprising 41 per cent of B.C. respondents who voted Conservative in 2011 said they don't support the project that is closely identified with the Harper government.

You have until August 31, 2012 to submit a letter to the Joint Review Panel on Northern Gateway stating your opposition to this project.


PS If you live outside the provinces of BC or Alberta, your voice is as important as ours.  Please contact your federal representive and the Right Honorable Stephen Harper and let them know you are opposed to this pipeline. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Libertarian Exegesis

I found this video on line and it exerted an awful fascination on me - and I do mean awful! Watch it and weep! 
Seconds in:
 .07 -.18   "The Philosophy of Liberty is based on the principle of self ownership.  You own your life. " Sure - interject the language of commerce into the concept of liberty first thing!  And what does this mean, anyway?  If someone enslaves you, they're not transferring your 'ownership ' to themselves - they are committing a crime and a fundamental injustice.   In fact, selling yourself into slavery is a fundamentally unjust practice.   (Furthermore,  a Buddhist would deny that your 'self" exists.)  My friend Bel says:  Some people are more equal than others so those foreign views don't count for nuthin!  "

.26 "to deny this is to imply that another person has a higher claim on your life than you do."   If you have children,  I'd say your children have a higher claim on your life than you do.  Particularly when they are small, vulnerable, and helpless; your children have a very large claim on your life.   But perhaps libertarians are like Ayn Rand and don't like children.  

.55 "You exist in time.  Future, present , and past. "  Other cultures don't share  the Western sense of time as  linear; and would therefore dispute this vision.    See Bel above.....

1:57 "Property is that part of nature which you turn to valuable use."   This video privileges humans over everything else.   Some folks dispute that this world view is ethical.   What about the rights of non-human entities - possibly including Gaia herself- to functioning ecosystems undisturbed by someone turning said ecosystem  to a 'valuable use?'  One may laugh at the idea that non human entities have rights - but American slave owners scoffed at the thought that slaves had rights.   Or were human......  There may come a time when we regard a mindset that thinks of nature as property with the same horror we direct at those who defend slavery.

2:06  "Property is the property of others which is given to you by voluntary exchange and mutual consent."   Not always - there was very little 'voluntary' about the enslavement of Africans.  See Bel above.....

2:16  "Two people who exchange property voluntarily are both better off or they wouldn't do it." Really?   REALLY! ???   Libertarian have never heard of unequal exchange, apparently.  Or listened to music:  I cain't die cuz I owe my soul to the company store!"  

4:11 "you have the right to seek leaders for yourself but no right to impose rulers onto others."  Ah yes - the old democracy as dictatorship argument.    One hears it everywhere! 

5:47 "Your actions on behalf of others ...is virtuous when it is derived from mutual consent."  Apparently libertarians never send anyone to jail for murder or confine them to a forensic psychiatric hospital as that would be an action on behalf of others NOT derived from mutual voluntary consent.  We constrain the choices of corporations and real people all the time - or did I only dream that the manufacture of crystal meth is illegal?    Would it be practical to remove all  limits on behaviour?  

7:.01 "Having confidence in a free society is to focus on the process of discovery in the marketplace of values."  What the hell is a market place of values?   My friend Bel says "Isn't that between XS Cargo and Papa Murphy's Pizza?  Evidently you and I  just don't get the right fliers!"

7:13 "Using governmental force to impose a vision on others is intellectual sloth."  No, intellectual sloth is not thinking critically about what one views or reads.  Actually, Bel says "  Thank you for clarifying that.  I thought intellectual sloth was a tree hanger, similar to an opossum, that quotes Freud and Nietzsche.  We had them in Parque del Este in Caracas."

 Bel says " Buried here [in this video] is the basic denial that anything is seriously wrong with our natural systems, and that we might actually need a functioning planet in order to thrive."

Ron Paul, an American libertarian, and astonishly, a former candidate for the Republican nominee for President,  believes that:

contrary to the claims of the supporters of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the sponsors of H.Res. 676, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not improve race relations or enhance freedom. Instead, the forced integration dictated by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 increased racial tensions while diminishing individual liberty. 

Making discrimination illegal is an act that reduces freedom?   Successfully lobbying the government to pass laws that  eliminate the production of greenhouse gases is a reduction of liberty?  Sure - right - absolutely. If one lives in an insane world, it is.

A thank you goes to my friend Belinda Darlington for letting me quote her. You rock!  Thanks as always for sharpening my thinking. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Energy Return On Investment Explained

From the transcripts of the Joint Review Panel on Naorthern Gateway:
7325. So what can be said? What conclusion can we reach from these calculations? What is the ratio of energy gained from the diluted bitumen to energy expended in extracting, diluting, pumping, shipping and rendering it equivalent to crude oil for refining purposes?

7326. When you place the energy output of a barrel of oil above the line and the energy input below the line, the 16,042.1 kilojoules per litre, you multiply the 6.142 gigajoules per barrel by 1000 to get kilojoules per barrel, all of the units cancel out and you are left with an energy return on investment ratio of 2.41 for the entire process, from extraction to the rendering of it equivalent to a barrel of crude oil at the destination.

7329. Depending on whether the extraction process is mining or in situ, the energy return on investment for oil sands extraction is either greater than or less than one barrel of oil expended to produce six barrels of oil. For the process of which the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project is a part, the energy return on investment is one barrel of oil expended to achieve 2.41 usable barrels of crude oil equivalent at the refinery.


Ain't the Internet grand?

You can watch a BCSEA webinar by the engineers who made the above presentation at:
http://www.bcsea.org/past-webinars   BCSEA is grand as well!

Please scroll down to

May 2012

Alberta to China: What's the energy return ?

Scream or A Flicker of Hope

Climate change is accelerating.  Climate change models  - much derided by deniers - look pretty conservative.    Arctic summer sea ice is vanishing: we may see an ice free Arctic summers by  2020.

Sea ice in the Arctic is disappearing at a far greater rate than previously expected, according to data from the first purpose-built satellite launched to study the thickness of the Earth's polar caps.
Greenland's ice cap seems to be thawing like a popsicle dropped on asphalt on a hot Kamloops day.
 New data compiled by the European Space Agency (ESA) has suggested that Greenland’s ice sheet is melting much faster than previously thought.    Officials said that new satellite images from ice-measuring radar firm Cryosat were combined with NASA IceSat images, which revealed that the landmass is currently losing ice at the rate of around 900 cubic-km each year.  Experts say that although ice melt figures vary greatly, the new results are nearly 50 percent higher than the majority of findings and have sounded new alarms among scientists.


But - WHOHOO! open Arctic water means access to oil!
Ottawa has placed 905,000 hectares of the northern offshore up for bids, clearing the way for energy companies to snap up exploration rights for an area half the size of Lake Ontario. The scale of the offer indicates eagerness in the oil patch to drill for new finds in Canada’s northern waters less than two years after such plans were put on hold following the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico and a major Arctic drilling safety review.


And HEY - maybe we can get metahne out of them thar frozen wastelands !  Do you think?????? Ignore that person chittering away about potent greenhouse gases.

The pilot experiment will explore the possibility of ‘mining’ from gas hydrates: cages of water ice that hold molecules of methane. Such hydrates exist under the sea floor and in sandstone deep beneath the Arctic tundra, holding potentially vast reserves of natural gas. But getting the gas out is tricky and expensive.

 On my more despairing days I think humanity is too stupid to survive. Makes me want to scream..... But The Joint Review Panel on Northern Gateway did ask for the US NTSB's report on their bungling of the Kalamzoo spill. 
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report was published in July, but Enbridge has not tabled any information about the spill, which leaked 3.3 million litres of oil into the Kalamazoo river, coating wildlife.  Now the Joint Review Panel assessing the company's proposed oilsands pipeline from Alberta to B.C. has tabled a detailed request asking Enbridge to supply the synopsis report and the final report by noon MT on Sept. 4.

A flicker of hope in an oil addicted world.....why on earth wouldn't we admit our addiction when we're reduced to scrabbling for  oil with an EROI of 2.41?     How much destruction do we have to cause before we admit this culture and way of life is unsustainable?  We need to change our values.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Deep Green Resistance

Deep Green Resistance
Aric McBay, Lierre Keith, Derrick Jensen; 2011, Seven Stories Press

When my co-workers ask what I did on the long weekend, I'm going to tell them I spent it reading a manifesto on insurrection.   They won't believe me - but you will.

I've often said that our culture is sick and dysfunctional.  The authors of Deep Green Resistance  (DGR) agree.  They write: "We're up against a system that is not only unjust, but insane"  (page 190.) Their answer to dysfunction is resistance - and by  resistance, they mean resistance in the sense the French resisted the Nazis. IEDs; guns; explosives; death and destruction .....   They state  "A culture of resistance believes in resistance because no amount of love or compassion or earnest education...has ever stopped the powerful." (page 190.)

Really?  Tell it to Gandhi - India is no longer the jewel in the crown of the British.   And the Indians didn't pick up arms - they drove the British out through a campaign of non violence.

Tell it to Gwynne Dyer.   Discussing revolutions,  he states:  "The nonviolent revolutions that began in East Germany in November 1989, and ended Communist rule in the old Soviet Union itself by late 1991, could have been stopped if the local Communist regimes had been willing to follow the Chinese example, but none of them had the stomach for killing on that scale.  So about 350 million Europeans got their freedom and almost nobody died. At almost exactly the same time, the apartheid regime in South Africa released Nelson Mandela and began the talks that led to majority rule in 1994."  http://www.straight.com/article-398587/vancouver/gwynne-dyer-twentyfive-years-nonviolent-revolution

DGR praises MEND in Nigeria, and states that MEND has reduced Nigeria's oil output by one third.  (page 479.)  Yup - sure - violent tactics are working well to stop oil production there.   A quick check via Google brings up oil production statistics.

"Lagos – Nigeria’s crude oil production has increased from one million barrels per day in 2008 to    2. 6 million barrel per day due to the improvement in post-amnesty programme. "http://www.vanguardngr.com/2011/02/nigeria%E2%80%99s-crude-oil-production-rises-to-2-6m-barrels-daily-fg/

DGR is a really interesting book  - the authors are passionate about the problems we face - they love this planet and all our relations  -  but they are wrong in advocating violence as a solution to an insane culture.   Read the book for everything but the authors' solutions to our problems.  And hey - bonus!  If  you ever need to construct an underground cell , run a covert operation,  and destroy infrastructure, DGR has the directions!

DGR  also has a website if you want  more than my jaundiced view.
Find it at:  http://deepgreenresistance.org/

Monday, August 6, 2012

Child Abuse

Brent Astle 1971 - 2010

 Mormons show up at my door extolling the virtues of their religion with alarming frequency.  Alarming to me, that is.  And annoying  -   I find their visits  very, very annoying.  The "elders" that prostelyze may find their visits upsetting as well due to my responses, polite though I try to be.

One duo told me last year - in 2011 ! - that "gay marriage" was an abomination and, as such, to be fought with vim and vigour.   I pointed out that they were standing on Canadian soil and same sex marriage had been legal in British Columbia since 2003 and in all of Canada since 2005.    Astounded, the Mormons repeated their views and then maligned the Canadian government.  In fact,  and possibly with such extreme religious views in mind, the federal government had taken the precaution of submitting their proposed same sex marriage law to the Supreme Court to  ensure its constitutionality before passing it.   "On December 9, 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada  ruled that the marriage of same-sex couples is constitutional, that the federal government has the sole authority to amend the definition of marriage, and the Charter's protection of freedom of religion  grants religious institutions the right to refuse to perform the marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples ".  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage_in_Canada    So Mormons' constitutional rights to freedom of religion are in no way contravened by Canada's same sex marriage laws.

The "elders" last week told me the Bible wasn't written by chance, and that "God" talked to them in their hearts.  When I told them that, in my view, their religion was tantamount to child abuse because it taught that being gay was a choice, they answered that "we all have our trials to bear" and that gay Mormons had to struggle through their trials.   Unhappily, I know gay Mormons can have "trials" that are insurmountable.

(Gee - at least those "elders" didn't advocate assaulting or killing gay people.  Perhaps they had no idea of the history of  their church.)

In "1991 The First Presidency of the LDS Church stated on NOV-14:
Sexual relations are proper only between husband and wife appropriately expressed within the bonds of marriage. Any other sexual contact, including fornication, adultery, and homosexuality and lesbian [sic] behavior, is sinful. Those who persist in such practices or who influence others to do so are subject to Church discipline...." http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_lds2.htm

I had a friend to whom these teachings mattered very much.  He was born in 1971 and sadly, born into a devout Mormon family.  He was taught that gay is a choice and that gayness is an abomination to "God."   He told me he knew at the age of five that he was different.   He realized what the difference was when he hit puberty.  He was gay.

He attempted suicide when he was sixteen.   He killed himself on September 30, 2010. 

He had been well indoctrinated with the teachings of the Mormon church.   For example, just previous to  his suicide, his sister told him it was only  OK to be gay if he never had sex!   After his death, his brother and sister and their straight spouses cleaned out his apartment  - and - I can still hardly believe this - threw out his gay books and CDs and DVDs and paintings.......most of the material  remnants of his life in fact.  (His lesbian friends retrieved a lot of  his things from the dumpster .)  His family refused to attend a memorial breakfast if we were gong to mention that he had been gay.   His brother -in-law said "we will only attend tomorrow's memorial if is going to be a celebration of Brent as a special person, not a gay pride thing."

They didn't attend.  Their loss - Brent was special because he was gay - not in spite of it.  

My darling fag (I was his fag hag) is dead.  The teachings he internalized at his mother's knee destroyed his sense of self worth and helped kill him.  That's why religious teachings that preach that "gay is a choice and an abomination" are child abuse.  Children born into devout families that espouse homophobic teachings are sometimes born gay - and grow up believing that they are worthless because they are gay.

It's child abuse.