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. . “It was 1990. I had buried my last friend but I still had two more death that would push my feelings to my limit. The two men most instrumental in my coming out. My brother Joseph Johnson and his lover Douglas Matson. . Both Joseph and Douglas were very active members of the Metropolitan Community Church. I couldn't imagine burying the two men who mentored me and introduced me to gay life. . They taught me to be proud and vocal. They role modeled what a relationship could be in gay life. They taught me the value of protesting. What could I have done to honor them? . Well, not long before my brother died, he ask me to put a pink triangle on their tombstone. I promised I would without knowing the difficulties it would involve. Joseph and Douglas were buried in a Catholic cemetery which only allowed certain "Christian symbols" engraved in the stone. I just had to fulfil my promise. . Since the Cemetery refused, I couldn't let my promise go unfulfilled and went to the Cemetery officials to plead my case for the pink triangle but I lied. They were adamant that they would not allow the pink triangle. I cued up my tears, sobbing for my loss but more so to get sympathy. . Through my tears, I chastised the cemetery for discounting The Holy Trinity. The Father, the son and the Holy ghost and I persuaded them to make a special allowance for this symbol of the Holy Trinity to whom, I said, my brother and Douglas had a fierce devotion. . They inquired why the triangle needed to be pink marble but I persisted suggesting a devotion to Christ and his birth — Pink represents this in the Catholic Church. Three years after my brother's death, Douglas died and when I saw their names side by side with a pink triangle squarely center of the stone, I felt so proud to have fulfilled their last wishes. . For years to come, they will be identified as gay by the image on their stone. Some will recognize what it is and some will not. . I did this for us! Those of us who survived! Forever the pink triangle will honor them as well as honor all of us. . I hope they would be as proud as I am. Cheers to you, Joseph and Douglas, I still miss you.” — by Cosgrove Norstatdt
DREAMGIRLS has been released and the obvious comparisons to The Supremes and Diana Ross have been raised. Mary Wilson in an interview indicated that Miss Ross was not very kind and an internet headline read that Miss Ross would be seeing the movie with her lawyer. When reading the actual transcript of the quote, it sounds more like a joke then a serious threat.
Diana Ross is constantly given a bad rap. She is a Diva. She is a bitch. She is controlling. What no one seems to talk about is that Diana Ross is an icon. She is a mega star. Imagine what it must be like to go through an entire day hearing the same things over and over and over and over….. “I love you Diana!” “You are the best, Miss Ross!” “Diana, can I take a picture with you?”
Is it any wonder that when she is in a working environment she would request that no one talk to her? Would you fault her for wanting to have a few moments of peace when she is among her peers? The very same people who should recognize that she might like a respite?
Several years ago when I had a former life working in entertainment, Miss Diana Ross was going to be visiting a studio where I was working. She was going to be there on business and since I, along with my co-workers, were the only ones that were in the studio, she was going to stop by while our television show was working. Our producer called a meeting to let us know that a letter was received to let us know Miss Ross would be visiting but no one was to speak to her. She wanted to conduct her business and be on her way.
Immediately, I raised my hand and said, “You know I am going to talk to her!”
To which my producer said, “This is why we are having the meeting. I am asking you not to speak to her.”
I replied, “Okay…but, you know I will!”
Mr. Producer politely says, “Please, I am asking nicely not to.”
And I say back to Mr. Producer, “Look, I am a homo. She is a Gay Icon. I HAVE to talk to her. Either she will be a bitch and I will have story to tell or she will be nice and I have a story to tell but either way, I am talking to her.”
(So you see? Even her peers, such as myself, ignore her pleas to have some peace of mind. The price of being an icon, no doubt!)
The day of the Diana Ross visit arrives and we are all working very hard as usual when suddenly I feel the room stiffen. It was as if every one started working in slow motion and the tension in the air was thick. Here was my moment and I had no idea what I would say.
I turned around and locked eyes with Miss Ross as she peered from behind her dark glasses and looked away. I turned away and did my best double take to turn around and lock eyes with her again but this time I held my gaze. I saw her eyes dart back and forth. I knew that she was anticipating the normal response. Then a brilliantly scathing idea (Sorry Haley Mills!) hit me!
“Excuse me” I said, “Aren’t you Tracee’s Mom?”
“Yes, I am!” Tracee’s Mom responded.
I then got up and walked over to Miss Diana Ross and introduced myself. We chatted for about 20 minutes about her daughter, the actress, how I knew her, how talented she is and basically, I gave Diana Ross an opportunity to stop being a cultural icon and just get to be a Tracee’s proud mom! She chided me for not offering more roles to her daughter and I assured her I would try to do better.
Miss Ross then politely excused herself because she had to continue on her day. I returned to my seat next to my Producer who was staring me down.
“What?” I said to him.
“You f*cking amaze me, you know that?” Mr. Producer said
Sometimes I amaze myself. I got a great story and no one can ever tell me that Diana Ross is a Diva, a bitch or controlling. To me, she is a mom; a mom who loves her daughter and was just as proud as a mom could be to hear good things about her family.
You may have to call her Miss Ross but she will always be just another Mom to me.
In the darkness one can not see any boundaries. The blacker the night the more freedom I feel I have. This is something I learned when I was still a small boy, strutting about like a little man, spouting off about the high gas bills and complaining about the Phone Company. Adults were comfortable with me. Schoolteachers, such as Mrs. Williams, loved to talk to me on the school playground and told my mother what a bright and gifted child I was to have in class. Mrs. Williams always chose me to clean the blackboard. A job I cherished. I would trudge down the long and emptied hallways 15 minutes before the final bell and grab the little yellow bucket marked with my classroom number. Carefully I would carry it back to class and begin to use erasers to dust away the chalk lessons from the day and the homework assignments for that night. Then, my favorite part, I squeezed the water out of the sponge and began to carefully streak it downward on the black slate. And with the wetness on the blackboard I could see the reflection of the room behind me. I could look into my own eyes and watch the well-behaved boy before me doing as he was told. Finishing his chore. I looked into the blackness and tried to convince him with my eyes to turn and run as I continued streak after streak to leave the board in a pristine manner so that new lessons could be learned the next day.
And even in the darkness, I would hold my hand in front of my face and convince myself I could see it. I could. Couldn’t I?
I learned in the darkness as a boy that breathing could change how I feel. A fast shallow breath left residuals of fear but deep breaths, slow and methodic could allow the mind to leave the darkness and explore. With a slow breath, I could think about the words I erased from the blackboard. I imagined in the darkness what had been painted earlier in the day with chalk. Tomorrow I would go to class and I would be the first to raise my hand. I would remember all the lessons from the day before and Mrs. Williams would smile proudly as Aaron Anderson glared across his desk at me.
In the darkness you learn to be still. Any movement in such vast emptiness can hurdle you through space and time. So I learn to stay still and quiet. Mrs. Williams told my mother how behaved I am compared to the other children. For an eight-year-old I am very controlled. That was the exact word: Controlled.
And when the light breaks the darkness and I see that I have been locked away in the attic again, confined in a small trunk for the night, I learn about gratitude for a mother who releases me. My mother tells me it is for my own good and this will teach me to behave.
I am behaved. I am controlled. I am quiet and Mrs. Williams tells my mother that she is doing an excellent job raising me. I proudly smile up at my mother and she pats my head, “Thank you, Mrs. Williams.” She says, and we walk home together.
Recently, on May 15th, I experienced a cardiac event and was taken by ambulance to Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage. After arriving they immediately began treatment and I was ultimately admitted to the hospital.
While in the emergency room I was asked if I had any other major health issues and I replied that I was HIV identified and I had mental health issues. I told them both of my psychiatric providers who are part of Eisenhower Medical Center Hospital in the Behavioral Health Clinic on the same campus as the hospital. At this point the hospital was now on notice about my psychiatric issue.
The evening of my admission, I was moved to the 4th floor south. I met my night nurse who would be doing my intake. Her name was Nurse Annette and while doing my intake, I relayed, once again, that I have mental health issues.
Being so honest I thought I was in a safe place. I could never imagine that i would be bullied and disrespected for being an openly gay man with a mental health disorder while in the care of an institution that claims diversity and inclusiveness. As it unfolded, Eisenhower Medical Center Hospital was anything but inclusive. They are not practicing diversity. They did not even supply a basic standard of care in their discrimination and dereliction of duty.
I have PTSD and I found my nerves getting the best of me while I layed in bed fearing a stroke or death. I didn’t sleep the whole night and, as for anyone, sleep is imperative for those with mental health disorders.
The following morning, May 16th, an Eisenhower Medical case worker named Calvin entered my room and said he noticed I was married and referred to my wife. This was the moment I snapped. My PTSD was triggered and I broke down. My trigger was sprung and I screamed, “You homophobic bigot. How dare you come into my room and disrespect me as a gay man.” I fought for my rights to be married and expect respect for that right and my relationship of 25 years. Personally, I find this a most egregious mistake. Homophobia is more than physical abuse. Most gay men recognize homophobic behavior including being treated as a second rate citizen by, in this case, the hospital refusing to recognize my gayness or have any sensitivity to acknowledge my husband. Any amount of homophobia is unacceptable for an institution that espouses diversity and inclusiveness. Unfortunately, having my emotions pushed to their limit and my PTSD was triggered. I lost control and began screaming and yelling uncontrollably.
It was at this time Nurse Blanca Fiero came into my room. As I was screaming to her to keep that man out of my room, I was trapped in my bed, IVs in each arm and an EKG attached to me. Nurse Fiero just stood at the door doing nothing. I finally yelled, “ Stop acting like a child and answer me.” She began to scream at me that she was calling security to have me removed. Clearly, she did not have training to deal with a mentally unstable patient or recognize the symptoms of my mental health disorder of which I had already disclosed two times. Suddenly, without warning, she charged my bed with her phone in hand over her head. I was trapped due to my IVs and EKG. As I prepared to be punched another nurse arrived (Nurse David).Nurse David arrived just in time to pull her out of the room and save me. I was screaming for them to restrain me if they needed security to remove me. They did not. Is this the behavior Eisenhower Health Medical Center Hospital considers to be their standard of care of behavior for the mentally ill and those who identify as LGBTQIA? I was out of control, sobbing uncontrollably and begging to see my husband. Still, no one made contact with my psychiatrist or therapist. It is abusive to leave a patient in such emotional distress. Remember, I had given my psychiatric providers names upon arrival in the emergency room.
I was crying. I was panicked and paranoid. The doctor tried to soothe me and convinced me to stay in the hospital for additional tests that he felt necessary. Enter Pamela Moorman, the patient relations coordinator. She came in laughing with another doctor. It felt to me like strangers were coming into my room to get a glimpse of the angry faggot on 4S. I inquired who she was and she either didn’t hear me or ignored me. Again, my PTSD was triggered and I began to scream at her to leave my room. She replied, “I was invited.” I was infuriated. I did not invite her and I told her to leave. She refused over and over until I was completely overwhelmed and distressed. As a trained professional, I was sure, in her position, she would have recognized my mental health state and would call my psychiatric team. Yet, she allowed me to be left in severe emotional distress for a second day.
The hospital did not perform their duties as healthcare professionals, they were derelict and negligent, I have been damaged mentally by the abuse at the hospital’s hand and the direct cause was their negligence to contact the proper medical caregiver or psychiatrist to treat me. I was shamed for my gayness and left to suffer deep mental anguish from the abuses I suffered at the hands of the hospital’s healthcare professionals.
The following day, May 17th, as I was being discharged. Nurse Ellen, who I believe was the floor supervisor for the nurses. She entered my room with some canned, corporate responses about hoping I enjoyed my stay…and that all my treatment was okay. I said it was not and Jeff (my husband) and I would be meeting with Ms. Moorman. Nurse Ellen responded by saying that she remembered my situation from the day before And had been in the room. I do not remember her. At that point, homophobia continues to run deep in Eisenhower Medical Center Hospital. Since she acknowledged that she knew my situation, you can guess my new outrage to be diminished and relegated to 2nd class citizen status once again as she referred to my husband as “my friend “. He is my husband. I am married and I don’t know why the Eisenhower Medical Center Hospital will not recognize my gayness or my husband. From my viewpoint, Nurse Ellen carelessly and intentionally intensified my emotional distress once again. This “standard of care” the hospital has role modeled over three days quickly destroyed my emotional state. Yet, still, no one made contact with my doctors or the psychiatrists that were on duty at hospital (Dr. Levine and Dr. Saurez) The hospital might want to check their records because I believe Dr. Levine was actually in the hospital during my stay at the hospital. Yet, my team of doctors and nurses left me to suffer and simply refused to contact a psychiatric professional.
I am well awareness of my mental health issues and work diligently to overcome them. That is why I am so transparent about my mental health. I am not going to be shamed by their hospital and pushed into hiding, even though this has been a very public humiliation of my mental health issues and I have become anti social since the abuse I recieved.
The real irony of this entire situation is that this all occurred during Mental Health Awareness month. (And I might add LGBTQIA awareness month is currently happening.) As a mental health patient, the care I received was less than people treat their old clothes. It was abysmal. It was deplorable. It was disgraceful. Eisenhower Medicals standard of care diminished me and left me feeling desperate and hopeless. I have been left feeling like I am nothing from my care at Eisenhower Medical which did nothing, absolutely nothing, to contact a doctor who would or could have treated me. Instead the hospital chose to leave me in continuous and painful emotional abuse at the very hands of those I entrusted my care.
I’m hoping the hospital has a zero tolerance policy for physical threats, perceived or actual abuse toward patients. Especially having a nurse physically and abusively treat me carelessly because she may have indeed been endangering me. I should not have spent three days fearing physical retribution by Nurse Blanca Fiero or any nurse in your facility.
As a mental health patient it is imperative to have a trusting relationship with my doctors. Eisenhower Medical Center Hospital destroyed this relationship.
I entered the hospital in a stable mental health position and by the actions of their staff and Pamela Moorman i have been left feeling worthless, defeated and giving up on life.
Since my hospital visit, I have been left emotionally scared and living in an abyss. I am hollow and alone. Eisenhower Medical Center Hospital must address the basic standard of care that was not provided by neglecting my mental health and neglecting to contact the necessary doctors who could have helped. There was a blatant abandonment of care. Leaving me emotionally exposed without treatment is no different than them refusing to attend to my cardiac needs or allowing me to suffer in pain. Have no doubt, I am suffering painful repercussions of the abuse I received at the “healing “ hands of Eisenhower Medical and its staff.
The issue of homophobia needs to be addressed as well. Eisenhower Medical espouses diversity and inclusiveness yet the actions they model is treating LGBTQIA patients with disdain and disrespect. Diversity and inclusiveness is more than a marketing tool mouthpiece. As long as LGBTQIA patients are treated in any similar manner as I was, (and there are…there are two similar cases which were told to me anonymously) you can not claim diversity and inclusiveness. This should be an embarrassment to the hospital when 40% of the population in this area is LGBTQIA. You are only providing 2nd rate care to to those you also treat as 2nd rate citizens. I am an example.
While I was in distress, a nurse, who I can’t name, told me she understood my frustration because he/she can not be open in the workplace. Another young worker approached me after the 2nd homophobic incident and told me, “That’s just the way things are here. You have to stay quiet.” he told me anonymously. I allow these sources to be anonymous to protect them from retribution by the hospital.
I was shamed for my gayness and left to suffer deep mental anguish from the abuses I suffered at the hands of the Eisenhower Health Center Hospital healthcare professionals. It’s so shameful.
Please call Dr. M. Abbas, the hospital director at 760-837-8905 or phone Pamela Moorman, patient relations coordinator, at 760-837-8905.
I implore you to call them and request that Eisenhower Medical Center Hospital increase their diversity training and sensitivity training toward the LGBTQIA community and and those who suffer mental illness. Please help me make real change and pressure the hospital to reverse its current practices.
My husband and I did meet with the hospital patient relations coordinator, Pamela Moorman and Dr. Abbassi, the medical director. He acknowledged that their care did not meet their standards. I presume this because he apologized for the treatment I received and that in itself is an acknowledgment of neglect I received while in the hospital’s care.
During the discussion it became clear that Pamela Moorman’s recollections of the event in my room were so vastly different than the account my husband and I observed. The incident with Nurse Blanca Fiero was also written so that she is separateder from blame. Though, there is no mention of her lack of training to deal with mental health patients. I became a problem rather than a patient.
Having mental health issues and being gay is difficult. I do not expect this kind of behavior from a hospital where one is vulnerable, scared and unsure. I expect Eisenhower Medical Center Hospital to exemplify a better example than the treatment I received.