Pride: Hate & Never Forgetting

“2500 Years in Two and a Half Minutes”
Thanks to Emily Le and Kelly Bailey for help with image research and loving encouragement; and to Shay Willard for “getting” the concept, and the excellent edit and scoring execution thereof.

PRIDE is not a party. It is a Celebration. 

Just as Independence Day in the US is a Celebration of our country gaining freedom from oppression (well, at least the white people – but not to cloud this issue with other egregious issues); just as Memorial Day is a Celebration of those lost in battle while defending our freedoms; and just as Veteran’s Day is a Celebration of the service of every US Veteran…

Pride is a Celebration of the achievement of Rights and Freedoms won through years…decades…of activism and violent struggle. This struggle, this movement, finally hit a flashpoint in 1969  –  after literal centuries of persecution, discrimination, hate, violence, hiding and no small amount of fear that pervaded all aspects of our lives and from which none of us were ever truly free…especially in the Western World.

Recently, in situ with a small group of my colleagues (qualification: BIPOC and Gay), the conversation of PRIDE arose as each of us shared the personal, growing unease we each have been experiencing in recent years with respect to the critical value of Pride Celebrations and a perceived, oblique dilution through complacency of the urgency and importance of “Never Forgetting” the Why of PRIDE.

The parades and celebrations may resemble parties to those unfamiliar with the violent, life-destroying realities of being Gay (LGBTQIA) before 1969; but that exuberance is borne on shoulders beaten and bloody, incarcerated and murdered, attacked and disenfranchised millions who have suffered throughout history to get us to PRIDE. Every feather of every boa, every sparkling bit of glitter, every dancing queen in that parade has had a price paid for it by those no longer here…by those who got us here.

The fed-up drag queens and habitué of Stonewall and NYC’s West Village – sick of police raids and being beholden to mob bosses for the existence of gay bars and all the daily indignities and fears of even being a little out – threw their hands in the air (and their stilettos at the cops) and virtually shouted “enough” to the world, starting right there. Many went to jail, that night; dragged as usual out of the bars and into the wagons that would take them to jail. 

I remember reading about these “riots” in Manhattan in my little hometown paper. About to enter my Senior Year in High School, I didn’t even have the vocabulary to identify myself to myself. Yet, as I read the oblique, obtuse and euphemism-filled report of these “riots in the West Village,” something in me stirred with identification. I knew, without knowing, that these rioters were important to me. 

I grew some. I grew more. I launched a career. I feared for my life and my future that I might be Gay. (Spoiler Alert: I am.) I began to accept in 1976 and by 1979 I gave up a career in conservative politics, moved to SF and came out. Knowing no one in The City, I volunteered as a Monitor for my first-ever Pride Parade. And on that overcast morning, as the Gay Freedom Day Marching Band struck up “If They Could See Me, Now”; the clouds broke, pouring the brightest, sparkling sunshine on the polished brass instruments and, looking miles up Market street at the sidewalks packed with tens of thousands of people awaiting the parade, my heart exploded. 

I will never, ever forget that feeling of freedom and exhilaration that burst from within me at that moment. 

Then, at the edge of the crowd, a young, heterosexual couple appeared and asked, “Hey, what’s this?” I knew I had to tell him. For the most brief of moments, my breath caught in my throat and I choked out the words, “It’s the Gay Freedom Day Parade.” They looked at each other, and said, “HONEY, Go and get the kids!”

Freedom. Acceptance. Joy. Exhilaration. Vast and deep fear and guilt and care dissolved into the multicolored maelstrom of celebration of a new world for me…a new life that was possible. And, as the Dykes on Bikes roared up the street to lead the parade, the next chapter of my life opened for me; the Authentic one.

I remember this moment with every PRIDE parade or celebration or reception or forum or competition I encounter. I, along with millions of others, began and continued to show up, to spread confidence, to stand up for our rights as equal to all human beings deserve. Community wide, there was a commitment to easing the path for generations to follow. They should not have to hide, they should not have to fear, they should be free to Be Who They Are.

Just a few years later, AIDS began its swift and dark, voracious killing of gay people. Terror returned to the Community, and this time, the enemy could not be seen coming. …and both the Terror and the Hate resurfaced, full force. 

Even in our own communities; men could return from receiving the bad news/death sentence at their doctor’s only to find all their belongings already on the sidewalk in front of their homes or buildings. Jobs were lost by the thousands on the mere suspicion of infection. Young men would call home in search of succor, coming out to their families and following that information with the news that they were ill. They might die. Many of these never heard from their families again. (Many also did.)

Jokes about AIDS in the Oval Office and White House Press Room. Heartless discrimination and dismissal everywhere.

Yet…PRIDE continued. In the face of all this, we continued to plant and support and nurture pride and self respect in one another and to remember that “every PRIDE is someone’s First…” and to welcome the new to the growing community. 

In the 90’s and the 00’s (pronounced “aughts”), the LGB > LGBT acronym continued to grow as we saw many embrace their authentic selves, claim their identities (and now, pronouns) and embrace the freedoms inherent in the movement to further define it and themselves. In so many ways, this was a manifestation of the freedoms for which we fought.

And, as “gay/queer” became more acceptable, it has been thrilling and fulfilling to see younger people able to see themselves in others and to accept and embrace – to be Proud of – the selves they may realize that they are. Marriage Equality began to happen. RomComs and theatre about couples and love between same sex individuals began to have happier endings. Choices to live out loud became easier to make and embrace.

But the “Never Forget” part has, I am coming to believe, become lost in the process; as Hate has never left the building. Corporations can blithely co-opt PRIDE every June; making money off our PRIDE. The month of June is full of events that look “fun” without the subtextual message of danger. 

The Right has been playing the Long Game the entire time. And that Game is Hate. 

It seems to have happened so quickly, in the virtual blink of an eye; suddenly rights are being taken away that had not yet been able to gather dust. It feels as though the celebration of freedom has begat a complacency for which the opportunists have been waiting. 

Across the country, in small towns and large, PRIDE celebrations are being cancelled, edited, licenses revoked. Drag is illegal. Clarifying pronouns are illegal. Haters are banding together to eliminate rights and eliminate people that “offend” them. 

[Let’s take a moment here and discuss “Freedom.” Yes, one’s freedom ends at the tip of another’s nose (or personal space). But “freedom from being offended” is not a freedom guaranteed by the oft-mis-cited Constitution. Offense is, in and of itself, a choice. 

If something one does or is is offensive to an Other, that Other is welcome to ignore said offense and get on with their life. Marriage, sexuality, attire, haircut, whatever. If what I wear or am offends you, then close your eyes or look the other way. It is not your concern. Nor is your “being offended” any of mine.]

Just last week, the iconic and revered Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence – an order of volunteer nuns organized in the early years of AIDS to rescue, support, succor, heal and nurture people with AIDS were disinvited from the annual PRIDE night at Dodger Stadium…because an out-of-state body of individuals who apparently know little to nothing about this national/international phenomenon cited their offense at the fact of the invitation. 

Rather than standing up to the Hate, the LA Dodgers quickly caved to this complaint and disinvited the Sisters. 

And this is happening All. Across. The. Country. 

I’m saying that it is imperative that we never forget the cost of the Freedoms we seek to enjoy. That we remember how quickly rights and livelihoods can be taken away by craven “leadership” and institutions. We are not at all safe if we are complacent. 

So, though we may be seen dancing and shimmering and shining and loving one another; though we may have funny coming out stories or anecdotes of adventures and misadventures we’ve enjoyed at PRIDE, we are beholden to remember centuries of suffering and decades of struggle to be able to dance on this day.  

We are bound to keep in mind, and those who see and support us should know and remember, that there is nothing lighthearted about a PRIDE Celebration. Nothing. 

Dance the Day and Night away; but never forget WHY you can dance in the Light.

I repeat. 

There is nothing lighthearted about a PRIDE celebration. 

Finally, the words of Pastor Martin Niemöller

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

Meanwhile: Random Posts from Last Week in Hatefulness

Tampa cancels “Pride on the River”:

New York Man Kills and Burns Gay Teen:

Homeland Security reports anti-LGBTQ threats are rising and intensifying:

L.A. Dodgers remove Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence from Pride Event:

The timing, alone, is overtly hateful; not to mention the simple fact of the book. Kirk Cameron’s Anti-LGBTQ+ Children’s Book to be released on First Day of Pride Month.

Tennessee Adds Three More Ant-LGBTQ+ Laws to Its Books:

Florida Traffic Sign Hacked to Display ‘Kill All Gays” :

‘Drag Race” Queens Have Some Things to Say About Anti-Drag and Anti-Trans Laws:

11 Countries Where LGBTQ+ People Still Face Death Penalty:

OBTW* Some Bonus Thoughts

My mind kept working, after yesterday’s post, bringing up various and sundry Things I Could Have Included…

Herewith, then, is a Treasure Chest of Real Life Navigational Tools

“I already have plans…”

Years ago (and by that I mean YEARS ago), when I was National Youth Director for an Incumbent’s Presidential Campaign, I was dating my “Boss,” the Director of Voter Groups (we’ll call her “Carolyn B.”), who was also seeing another guy on the campaign (we’ll call him “Paul M.”). I learned something from “Carolyn” that has served me to this day in unexpected and eminently effective ways across virtually all aspects of personal and professional life.

When I would ask Carolyn out for a specific date; if the answer were not “yes,” it would be, “I already have plans…” full stop. No details, no further information. No openings for further question beyond “when might you be free, then, Madame…?” 

I could think what I might about what her alternate plans might be, but I had nothing beyond Assumption on which to base an essentially fruitless and likely detrimental-to-the-relationship interrogation. The subject was clearly closed and my proposed option off the table.

Turns Out…this is a GREAT technique for all such exchanges in Life; to which I have translated and applied this little trick of less is more to virtually all potential scheduling conflicts – personal and professional.

Personal Example…

Friend(s): “Hey, wanna see a movie on Friday night?”

You: “I can’t; am having dinner with my mother..”

Friend(s): “Can’t you change that to another night and come with us?”


Friend(s): “Hey, wanna see a movie on Friday night?”

You: “Unfortunately, I already have plans…”

Friend(s): “Oh……is there another night that’s good for you?”

…Translated to Professional Contexts:

For some reason, people often seem to think that they have a de facto vote in how one runs one’s own life; down to the setting of personal priorities and the keeping or previous commitments.

‘Frinstance; back in the days I was competing in bodybuilding and physique, my nutrition and workout schedule was an intense routine, and sticking to the schedule was an integral part of keeping focus – nothing casual about it. 

So, when in a meeting with a client, scheduling upcoming meetings, and the client would pitch, 

“So, can we meet next Thursday at 3pm? 

Rather than say, 

“Oh, I have workout at that time” 

and open up the Portal of Assumption, Pique and Judgement; I’d look at my calendar and say 

“I’m already booked for 3pm on Thursday; what else y’all got?”

No one needs to know what’s in the way; your private life is your own: much the same as the irrelevance of the amount of your rent and the number of kids one has to the conversation of salary and pay raises of which we spoke in the previous post. 

Don’t even open those issues. Just as your fees should represent your value; your schedule and the commitments you have made to yourself are yours to harbor and meet…sharing them with those of other priorities is not required.

The net effect, by the way, is a perception of you as a busy, sought-after professional. The natural assumption is that if you’re that busy, you must be in demand. Optics. Raise your rates. 

Getting Paid: When and Why to Decline Work.

Many of us have taken jobs that paid too little, taken a client about which we don’t feel completely comfortable or a cause in which we may not believe; but we needed the work. I would offer that, most often in such situations, pretty much all parties end up unhappy in the long run. Resentment and unmet expectation can truly undermine the dynamic. 

More often than not, everyone ends up unsatisfied and unhappy; seeing the end product through the filter of the tone of the working team and collaboration. If one can avoid this, I believe one should do so, even going so far as to recommend another whom you think might better fit. 

True; sometimes it’s the only gig coming down the pike, the only client evident, and one must do what one must do in order to feed kids or cat. If that difficult choice must be made so, consider yoga or meditation.

Seek always to be the last one to speak in a meeting.

(Unless you are the one actually running the meeting.)

Especially in a new group or team, but equally valuable with regular cohorts and colleagues; the longer you wait to speak and more you listen to what everyone else has to say or share, the more informed you  will be and the more enlightened and in-tune will be what you ultimately say, because…

  • You will know the Power Dynamics of the room
  • You will know who is the smartest person in the room
  • You will know who thinks they are the smartest person in the room
  • You will have a sense of where the relationships and alliances lie
  • You will likely gain some timely information about technologies or similar projects that you didn’t already know, and
  • That intangible energy that pervades a room where everyone has something to say will have dissipated, and what you say will likely be more readily heard…plus, having listened and heeded, what you say will be from an enlightened perspective. 

Always send follow-up emails after meetings of two or more where agreements were made. 

“Hey, <colleague/client/vendor>, just to follow up on our conversation of this afternoon; my understanding is that the entire project is to be delivered a week ahead of schedule and you will also be giving us a 20% discount. Please confirm your agreement by return email.” 

This habit is likely to save a lot of angst, doubt and confusion. It is called a “paper trail,” though it is no longer paper. 


  • You get an email. 
  • You are too busy to give it appropriate thought and response.
  • Respond with a quick, “got your note, I’m swamped, but I will respond to you by the weekend” or something.
  • Then keep your word.
  • A human being wrote you that email.
  • Treat them humanely. 
  • NO ONE doesn’t have 15 seconds to type such a response. That’s all it takes.
  • “Traveling” or “am on site” are truly not acceptable excuses for not responding; they are, essentially, Lies Excuses. The interwebs are everywhere…

Networking and social Media 

  • Never use the default message.
  • Nobody owes you a LinkedIn acceptance. Give them a reason to accept.
  • Clicking the “invite” button is not “networking.” 
  • It’s a good idea and very easy to “brand” your Zoom background. Your own brand or some artwork from the shared project or client. (I’ve been known to use a photo of a prospective client’s product so as to point out “how well I fit” – it’s worked!

Hear all critique; This can inform your decisions and help you to make better ones by raising issues that your fanbase and those who already fervently agree with you may simply not see. (See “Collaborative Dissent” a few pages back.)

Comfort Breeds Complacency in virtually all things. Just sayin’. When you are uncomfortable, you may be on the verge of some of your best work. Trust yourself. Embrace the discomfort and then go with your gut.

Three is arguably the best number for a meeting; ideation, feedback, counsel, mentoring, problem solving. Two is the best number for conspiracy.

Always be willing to learn, and to learn on the fly. At moments of greatest pressure might come a spark of alternative that could be missed if one is too focused on the previously-agreed-and-approved vision.  Always hear, always consider. One never knows…

Okay, that’s all I’ve got. For now, in any event. Good luck out there.

*(OBTW = Oh, By The Way)


IMEX: In My Experience | secrets of making ‘em cheer, weep…and sometimes write checks” is now available in the beautiful and durable Field Edition as well as download from Apple Books. Contact me at for purchase and shipping information.

Apple Books Link: 

Don’t Let The Door Hit You…

Buckle Up, Graduates!

Read This at Your Own Risk!

The “Getting the Best…Giving the Best…” beta test cohorts have been wonderfully fantastic through winter and spring; a cache of remarkably diverse groups including undergrads, grad students, producers and execs at all levels, theme parks, major league sports, retail and all levels of immersion. Great people, great conversations, universal growth and enlightenment. 

Watch this Space for upcoming classes and workshops.

Meanwhile, a number of things came to light with respect to entering, moving through and working in the real world that had never been actually discussed with most of these individuals: not in school, in any case. Life Navigation Skills, approaches to Corporate and Cultural skills that it seems no one may be teaching.

Things One Should Know About Looking for Work and Doing Business,

but May Not Have Known Whom to Ask.” 

Herewith, in random order, are some reminders, some cautions, a few Hard Truths, some questions and my answers:

You’ve Only Just Begun. Key to the rest of your life is that fact that Graduation is the first step of the rest of your life. Your degree is the Key and your education is the tool box you will use to become the best in the business. 

But you are not the Best in the Business, yet!  Not even close.

Some clarifying facts:

  • 4,000 people in the US will graduate from College and University as #1 in their Class this year.
  • 23,632 people in the world will graduate from their Colleges and Universities as #1.

Even segmenting by course of study, that’s a LOT of competition…and these are just the #1’s

So my cautionary advice to you, out of love and support, is: I urge and caution you to not be in any hurry to “become” Creative Director, VP, President or head of anything. Don’t print business cards that label yourself “Creative Director” or any other Office. Trust me, the veterans chuckle behind the presumptuous backs of those who do this stuff.

As much as you’ve done to obtain your ranking in school, as much as you’ve done to prepare yourself to break into the industry, as much work as you’ve put in…you are still at the very beginning of your career and not at a point where you should spend any energy worrying about labels.

If anything, embrace Apprenticeship. These first jobs, the ones you land in the coming 5 or 8 years, are the ones where you will really learn what you do. Set aside any rush to the top and take the time to get to know the ones before you. Meet, befriend, assist and learn from those doing it…make your mistakes and do your practical in a safe space under supportive guidance so that when you hit the high wire you have your balance. Collaborate, Support, Acknowledge, join and become the best member of the Team…push and strive for Team Results and Recognition: the rest will come. It will.

Avoid seeking stardom; be on the Team. Make others the Stars. Your time WILL come…and probably sooner, the more you support your colleagues. Just sayin’.

TAKE YOUR TIME. You are leaving school with the best tools and methodologies, the latest and freshest basket of knowledge; now go out and make them yours, make them second nature, truly own them. 

Next: Beware the company that calls itself a “Family.” 

That should be a BIG warning sign to you; and to believe in, embrace and conduct oneself as though this fantasy is true will likely be a set-up for shock, surprise and disappointment when reality asserts itself. 

NOT to say that there are not wonderful, warm, nurturing business and familial-feeling companies and agencies in abundance, out there. But you are an asset; essential when needed, dismissible when a business decision calls for it. The difference will be in how one is treated when the fallout takes place; the warning one gets, the ushering out and sometimes the welcome back when things get better. But make no mistake, we are rarely as vital as we like to think we are. 

Fact o’life.

As comfort; I can assure you that there are thousands of amazing, wonderful, giving individuals out there in the trenches just waiting to befriend and support you through all the travails and tribulations that will be encountered on your personal rollercoaster. There really are No People Like Show People (Like No People I Know). 

You will meet and work with scores if not hundreds of wonderful people. Look forward to that. And yes, you’ll met the occasional arsewhole or jerk. Strive to avoid taking it personally. It is rarely, rarely, rarely personal, irrespective of how it might feel at the time. Take notes, though; you may need to Write or Create a <redacted> sometime; and now you have a role model! 

You’ll be fine. Just keep your eyes open and maybe try to see every little victory as a gift (and every not-so-great experience as an opportunity for context and learning).

Watch out for becoming Jaded.

There are some who wear the mantle of Jadedness, of “been there, done that” and embrace a “ho-hum” attitude toward components of our work. Distant destinations and otherwise exotic locales among them. I say watch out for that. 

Since my very first flight to London in College, I enjoy a deep sense of thrill every time I board a flight to pretty much anywhere (especially when a client or employer is paying!). I can tell you that, everytime I see London from the air at night, I hear the score from “Peter Pan” and see in my mind’s eye the Peter Pan ride at Disneyland (in 1962 or thereabouts). I want never to lose this quality. We are vested with creating memories for people from all over the world, all the time. I say hold our inner children close as muse and motivation. 

Let’s spend our long flights thinking like that. Who knows what ideas may come before we arrive. I cannot be bored on a flight. Exhausted, yes; but the Muse is vibrant.

Okay: some practical stuff:

Getting Paid: Invoicing. What should it look like, what information should be on it?

An invoice should be one page, one side, with everything on that page that will help people and companies pay you without having to seek backup or ancillary documents or information. Therefore:

  • A logo or brandmark, if you have one.
  • Contact information: name, mailing address, telephone number, email, website (if you have one).
  • An Invoice Number. Make up your own trackable system. I use a system of year/month/day/client so that in lists, they self-arrange, chronologically and alphabetically:
    • The invoice I send to Smith Company on October 7, 2021 for the Secret Project is numbered: 211907SmithSecret.
  • Name of the Project.
  • Space for a P.O. (that’s Purchase Order) number – some companies need to issue you a P.O. number that needs to be on your invoice in order for it to be paid. That number indicates that the fee agreed-upon was actually approved. 
  • Your applicable rates (hour/day/week/month) and the total amount owed you.
  • Due Date / terms of your agreement.
  • Bank / Wire Transfer information; including Swift Code, Routing Number, Account Number, Name on the Account, Name of the Bank, Address and Phone number of the bank. 
  • Be sure to ask the client what they want/need to see included in the invoice, one never knows…be thorough.

Seriously, leave nothing to chance or misunderstanding. Never worry that you are giving them too much information; rather, worry that you might leave out some small detail that can delay the processing of your invoice.

Getting Paid: How Much Am I Worth? Okay, you’re worth millions. I agree. However, do your research online ( or any one of a number of other sites), ask trusted friends and colleagues in the same line of work what they would pay someone with your level of education or experience. Even ask business owners or executives the salary ranges for positions you might seek. Asking from an informational point of view, outside of a climate of negotiation, will elicit more candid response and can give a more clear and objective picture. 

Decide on your rate and be comfortable quoting it. Do be wary of over-valuing a degree. While education is generally a requirement and a constant; experience is what raises value

Getting Paid: Negotiating. When asked, quote your rate; period. Don’t offer to negotiate. If asked if you’ll negotiate or “will you accept less than that?” Ask what they are offering. Do not offer any other figures until the Other Person/Company has offered a figure. Personally, I would go so far as to respond, when asked about salary, by asking if this is a negotiation. In other words, “So, are you interested in offering me the position and is this the opening of salary talks to see if we can agree?”

If they want you, then they’ll be candid. Otherwise, time is just being wasted, IMHO. If your value to a company is primarily in how low you can be gotten; is this a culture in which you’ll be happy? You be the judge of that. 

You know how low you can go for a job you love, and how much you need to maintain your life. None of that is anyone’s business; as one should be paid for what one brings to the table, not what one “needs.” Never operate or negotiate from what you “need.” 

What you need is, frankly, irrelevant in salary negotiations. Same goes for when you are seeking a raise in pay; it’s because the raise is deserved and you represent value at that level of pay; not because the kids need new shoes.


And that’s it for today. I may do more later. Meanwhile, call your mother…and ask to speak to Dad. Thank ‘em.


“IMEX: In My Experience | secrets of making ‘em cheer, weep…and sometimes write checks” is now available in the beautiful and durable Field Edition as well as download from Apple Books. Contact me at for purchase and shipping information.

Apple Books Link: 

Collaborative Dissent

The Value of Deference to Dissidents

Hey, here’s a tip to get the best out of all available minds when making change.

There are, in the trajectory of many if not most organizations, agencies, associations and collaboratives, Moments of Decisive Evolution; as successive mission shepherds take the reins from previous and the original Visionaries have become fondly respected Historical Foundation. 

Revered Dinosaurs. 

Happens all the time to the best and edgiest. Easily preempted.

It is critical, at such times of Progressive Evolution – as new pathways and new directions are envisioned and conceived in response to the advances of time, of cultures geographic and demographic, of the wants & needs & interests of the bodies being served – that Leadership include at the table and throughout the conversation or workshop a faction of informed dissent.

Invite Dissent from the beginning. Listen to them. Hear them… Not a one-off hearing, but through the entire process.

In the vetting of any new idea, concept, approach or methodology – well before the expense and time of a Field Test, Launch or Redirectional Pivot; the scrutiny of articulate, acute dissent is vital prior to and through manifestation.

This can save vast amounts of money and time, human resources, backtracking and retrofitting…and embarrassment. Just sayin’.

We can guarantee that the spectrum of possible downsides perceived and voiced by Enlightened Dissent will likely be vastly different than those seen by an already Enthusiastically Supportive Majority. Therein lies the critical value. At the beginning is when this conversation is most valuable; when crafting The New Thing. To cut passionate critique from the conversation and process is to handicap and possibly inadvertently subvert the original intent and vision. 

“They’ll see that we are right in doing this…” is a risky, often deceptively unperceived limb on which to venture. Have those conversations before implementation; and keep them alive, step-by-step from ideation to completion.

You’ll have a far better product and be much more likely to make some positive history. Better to Listen and Hear before Going Public, n’est-çe pas?


Postscript Paragraph. 

The Writer’s Room is an apt metaphor for the crucible of advise and dissent that can create a complex, complicated and compelling story arc through sometimes intense debate and disagreement on the best path forward.

A Brief, Shining Moment…

An Oscar statue is pictured during the Oscars Foreign Language Film Award Directors Reception in advance of the 88th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California February 26, 2016. The Oscars will be presented February 28, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri – GF10000325443

43 Years ago in 1980 – about 30 new friends, most of them new to San Francisco, gathered in a small hotel suite to watch the Oscars. A wonderful evening of bonhomie and fun.

By 1984, Friends of Oscar was an annual gala. 

By 1986, it had become a California non-profit with attendance surpassing 1000. More “dress up” than “formal,” everyone came in their own expression of fancy celebration…representing themselves, welcoming others, being San Franciscan.

Board of Directors @ City Hall Oscar Gala, March 29, 1989. Clifford Colvin, Kirk Frederick, Rhonda Beran, Debra Kent, Larry Hashbarger, Michael Murphy, Laurel Burch, Kile Ozier (Founder), Michael Miller, John Twomey, Chip Sullivan.

By 1989, it had become a nationally known phenomenon and an Oscar Night Destination for Friends from LA, NYC, London… with post-ceremony coverage by ABC alongside the LA Events hosted by Wolfgang Puck and Elton John…

…at which time, Friends of Oscar was nicely asked by the Academy to change the name and avoid a copyright infringement suit. (They really were very nice about it.) Thus, Academy of Friends became the name.

Former SF residents would return each year to see old friends, remember together those we’d lost, to celebrate the glamour of the Oscars, to cheer favorite wins and boo the Bad Choices.

The nearly four-decades long arc raised several million$ for scores of Bay Area AIDS education and direct-care agencies, setting a new standard for 100% of the ticket price going to the beneficiaries, as the event was fully underwritten by the sponsors. 

As part of a new community of heart-born organizations and agencies in San Francisco and cities and towns across the country, the exciting, powerful magnitude of the multiplied small contribution was introduced to a demographic largely new to philanthropy… We raised a shit-ton of money and looked damn GOOD, doing it. 

All inspired by a shared passion for the Oscars and profound commitment to supporting loved ones dying of a mysterious disease and the dismissive neglect of our government.

Many good things do come to an end; and the lights ultimately went out on this phenomenon of Friendship after 2020. The spirit, the experience created and shared, the differences made, the easier deaths in loving arms, knowledge shared and ignorances eradicated, and the memories of those lost and still loved leave a resonance that remains in the memories of all who were a part. 

Every year, at Oscar Time, a vast and textured tapestry of memories manifests in us; all those who stepped in and stepped up, bringing to our round table their personal commitment and their professional expertise, contributing in myriad ways to realize the vision far beyond anything foreseen at inception. It truly was a body far, far greater than the sum of the parts.

Built and embraced by San Franciscans and Friends as board members, executive directors, volunteers, sponsors, performers…

Thousands of them, all told. Each and all remembered, each and all appreciated.


Throughout its run, FOO/AOF hosted special premiers and theatre night fundraisers as well. “Les Miserables” and “Maurice” among them. Most memorable was the SF premiere of “Longtime Companion”…I believe it may have been sponsored by Kleenex; judging from the quantity used by the audience.

MasterClass – Description and Details – FAQ – Registration

The class is of eminent value for grad students and recent entries into the fields…but far more relevant, I think, for mid-level to C-suite creators and executives to be and become newly empowered, refreshed and revivified…to see their own experiences through alternate lenses, hone their skills in Collaboration and Cross-Cultural Communication…to become conversant and even more effective in multi-demographic collaboration…

Kile Ozier, The Guy

Getting the Best from our Teams: Giving the Best to Our Audiences

Sessions are six consecutive Thursdays at 4pm Pacific, beginning on March 9

The unique curriculum for this class is aimed at and created for aspiring, practical and experienced executive leaders in creative, experience design, entertainment and destination creation industries. Developing and empowering leadership at all levels and in any and all contexts in which talented professionals gather in collaboration to create something bigger than themselves. 

Born of effective methodologies for getting the best out of our teams and giving our best to our audiences and customers, the class is a practical workshop in cross-demographic collaboration and peer-to-peer mentorship.

And it is a LOT of fun.

We create and give lasting memories for a living; best we should enjoy ourselves as we do that.

“Kile utilizes his wealth of knowledge and experience to guide students through understanding how to produce meaningful and inspiring experiences by asking thought-provoking questions and providing excellent advice for working with your team.”
Josh C. – Show Lighting Designer, Systems

Who will benefit from this Class?

  • Creative
  • Tech
  • Artists
  • Engineers
  • Designers
  • Writers
  • Directors
  • Performers
  • Managers
  • Coordinators
  • Producers
  • Consultants

Among the skills explored and applied will be…

  • Peer-to-Peer Mentorship
  • Intra- and Inter-cultural communications
  • Pheromonal and Multi-Demographic Collaboration
  • Focused Listening
  • Empowerment and Engendering Trust
  • The power in creating an atmosphere of assiduousness and mutual respect.

There is some light Homework: with feedback from Kile, from our Peers and from our featured Illustrious Guest Speakers. Our context is that we all have something to learn from one another’s experiences. Bring your questions, bring your challenges as we set aside hierarchical barriers in order to achieve the Best Results.

SPEAKING of Guests: The first 2023 Cohort enjoyed guest conversations with Michael Libby (Man of the Metaverse, AI native and founder of Worldbuildr) and with Jerry Mitchell (Tony Awarded Director and Choreographer – “Legally Blond,” “Kinky Boots,” “Pretty Woman”). No telling who might drop in, next Session.

The class consists of Six, 2-hour sessions on Thursday evenings. The Spring Series begins on March 9.

A copy of the textbook is included in the price of the class.

Class size is limited to 15 in order to assure ample time for each participant to engage.

Tuition for this Beta-Semester is US$200. (Meaning: the price is going to rise, soon.)

To Register

Sessions are six consecutive Thursdays at 4pm Pacific, beginning on March 9

Step One: would be the email to me ( of your intention to participate. Please provide your contact information (email, phone, school, major, anything else you might want me to know in support of our knowing one another and specifics of the in-class conversations being more relevant to you). IF you are so inclined; a paragraph or two on why you are studying what you are studying, what inspired and inspires you in work and life, would be great. BUT IS NOT REQUIRED. 

Step Two:you will receive your Acceptance Email.

Step Three, then, is to seal the deal by sending your tuition via Venmo (@Kile-Ozier).

Step Four: If you have not already, please establish yourself on WhatsApp; as that will be our primary form of collaboration and conversation, outside of class.

A week before class begins, you will receive a Launch Letter with updated syllabus and any relevant notes, and then we’re off!

Meanwhile, through WeTransfer you will receive a pdf copy of the book for our class: “In My Experience – Secrets of making ‘em cheer, weep…and sometimes write checks.”

You are welcome, of course, to download the digital copy from Apple Books – but If you’re happy scrolling through the pdf, you save $35.00

Apple Books Link

You can write or message me anytime and I am happy to take your call.

Looking forward to meeting you. Buckle Up! KO

Testimonials and Bio

So, who is this guy, Kile Ozier?

Across five decades and four continents, Kile Ozier (The Guy) continues to connect with audiences of myriad magnitudes and unique levels of emotional intimacy. His ability to connect at unusually deep levels has brought audiences of from 25 to 250,000 to rapt and utter silence as well as spontaneously to their feet in exhilaration and surprise. From Broadway to the Outback, Amsterdam to Arabia, from Yankee Stadium and Wrigley Field to the Washington Mall he has created storytelling theatrical experiences, parades, brand activations and conventions, inaugurals, ceremonies, political campaigns and celebrations for and in tribute to all manner of causes and coalitions…

His sense of time and timing, of how to most effectively communicate a story or create an indelible experience for disparately composed audiences – creating ephemeral moments of unique space and place – have left a legacy of unforgotten experiences in his wake.

He loves to learn and he loves to teach; both of which keep him vibrant and alive through the work; collaborating with other cultures and building multigenerational teams wherein everyone learns and everyone teaches.



Farewell, My Friend

Hug Point, OR

Donald Alex Has Died.

Who was Donald Alex? He was the man who gave myself to me.

1978. I had a rather promising career on a fast track in the Republican Party. Having come circuitously from a small town in Oregon a tree-hugging member of the party, that was my entree. After an agency or two, I found myself a Director on the President’s Campaign staff and was fairly enmeshed within the Culture of the Beltway. 

After the loss, I was asked to run a campaign for state office in Colorado for a friend of one of the President’s sons. So, Denver.

Up until this point, I’d led an aggressively straight life. Underneath this, though, I knew I was gay…though kept thinking I could overcome it, or hide it, or in some way live with it and still have “all the benefits” of a straight life. 

I had discovered and been adopted and indoctrinated into the vast and well-established Capitol Hill Gay Underground Network which, as one might imagine, stretched throughout DC and environs. The Closet in DC was huge in those days, and some of the most powerful and recognized people were a part of it. I would drop my dates off by midnight and head to the clubs to lead this exotic, exciting and tantalizing nightlife. 

It was exciting, it was fun, it felt good…and it had no integrity. 

I didn’t realize how deeply conflicted I was, nor the personal price I was paying by living a closeted life. As far as I could perceive; that’s how the world is.

Then, on one sunny afternoon at Denver’s Southtown Lumber Company (not a lumber yard), I looked down the bar and the most beautiful, blue eyes I’d ever encountered were zero’d in on me. Those eyes, crystal clear and as blue as the Caribbean, poised over a wonderful smile, were an inviting oasis. 

“I’m Donald Alex. Alex. It’s Alsatian…” he said. (He certainly didn’t look like a dog to me!) And we talked. And made a date. My first “real date” with another man.” 

The Date: I went to his apartment to meet. He later protested that this was not intentional; but when I knocked on the unlocked door, it swung open to his living room, across which he sat. Seated on the end of his sofa, a book in his lap in a tableau perfectly lit by the lamp on his end-table. Right. Coincidence.

It was a romantic date, dinner and on to Licorice Pizza, a huge record store (the vinyl kind) the size of a skating rink. It was a great evening, and there was much love to follow. And what that love did for me was show me I was worth loving and that men can love each other. Far beyond and deeper than any of the lusty crushes through self-discovery — the hidden and protected exploration of something seen as dark and unnatural and irresistible; this was something new. A love that touched my core.

Donald was a special and rare man. With the stature of Michael J. Fox and the voice of Brenda Vaccaro and every lyric of every great Broadway Musical indelible in his mind; he could break into song at any moment – and it would take virtually nothing for him to grab his Top Hat and Cane (always handy in the front closet) and burst into “Hello Dolly” at any provocation. 

He was a happy man. Feet on the ground, empathetic, sincere and generous. He gave. He nurtured. He cared. 

I spent the rest of the campaign in the closet, and when it was over moved in with Donald to figure out what to do with my life. I knew I couldn’t return to Washington and Republican politics; being well-aware of the fact there was no room at the table for us. 

Donald, a teacher in Boulder, said that wherever I could find a new career, he would move with me. “Once you have a job, I’ll quit mine and be with you.” Over the coming months, I looked many places until the weekend in 1979 that a former girlfriend showed me San Francisco; to be seduced and embraced by what is now my Home City. 

Donald loved me for who I am, seeing more in me than I even saw in myself. His love was acknowledgement, aspiration, approbation and acceptance all in one. The result of his love was an empowerment and confidence that returned to me — qualities that had been suppressed and shut down through the double life I’d led. 

Donald and I, together, grew apart; as what I came to want was to participate fully in the life, city and world around us and Donald wanted to come home every night, have dinner and watch TV together (now, of course, that’s what I want!!).

Ultimately, we separated. He took the crystal, I took the spices. We remained in sporadic contact as we both lived in San Francisco, though once we began moving around, sometimes years would pass before one would reach out to the other. Always friendly, always loving. 

Then, a few months ago, I had a vivid dream of him. Just he and I, talking. Whenever I have a dream that features someone from my past so vividly, I reach out to them; just to let them know, to be sure they are okay, healthy, happy…or whatever. I see these visions as an elbow nudge from the Universe. 

So, for some reason, this time I called rather than sending an email or text. 

Donald was at his lawyer’s office, waiting to go in and finish the plans for his estate. The for-two-years-diagnosed-as-IBS case had revealed itself to be Stage Four Stomach Cancer. He only had weeks or months to live. 

“Donald, you can’t die; I still have several unkind things to say to you and hundreds of things to blame you for! I’m coming to see you!” There were a number of laughs among the serious talk we than had. (One thing I have discovered as I’ve watched and helped so many people die is the burden of the Elephant in the Room…people can be afraid of this inevitable thing that’s going to happen, so often tend to skirt around it. It makes for a lot of work for the person dying, as they try not to make the visitor feel uncomfortable. Often, just putting it out there and using it takes some of the weight away. At least in my experience.)

A few days later, I was at Hug Point (near Cannon Beach) and was compelled to call him again. Sitting on a log and on the phone with him, something crystallized and suddenly became far more clear to me the magnitude and depth of the gift he had given me. 

“Donald,” I said, “I have to thank you for so much. Not only did you show to me I was worth loving, and point me back toward the world a more confident and empowered man; but, Donald, you gave me my entire life….” 

“Because you loved me, I came out, moved to San Francisco, and have lived an Out and Authentic life ever since. I’ve been able to live without denying who I am…and to live with the consequences. 

“But much more than that, look at the life I’ve led. 

“I’ve been all over the world, creating experiences that move people – some that have changed lives. I’ve been able to give people validation, find community, draw comfort and solace, sow aspiration. I’ve had people tell me about things they’ve seen and by which they’ve been moved without knowing I had anything to do with them. I’ve seen and lived and embraced things I never knew existed, much less thought I’d touch them. …And had wonderful (and not so wonderful!) experiences everywhere.

“I’ve been and been immersed all over the world, and have come away with good relationships and amazing memories from most everywhere (there was that one time…). I could not have written a life as I’ve had.

“Never again have I hidden myself from view. There has been trepidation and hesitation and even fear; none of which has stopped me from moving ahead. I’ve often paid the price for candor and authenticity; always and ultimately comforted, at least, by the fact that there is knowledge honor and confidence inherent even in making a mistake…and I’ve made plenty of those. 

“I’ve had an amazing life which is not over, yet; and I’ve done it all at 100%. 100%. Donald, I owe you my life. Thank you for giving myself to me.”

“It was easy, Kile. You were always there; you just didn’t know it.”

Well, I do now. 

Donald died on Saturday.

Hug Point Waterfall, OR

Popular throughout the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies, “IMEX: In My Experience | secrets of making ‘em cheer, weep…and sometimes write checks” is now available in the beautiful and durable Field Edition as well as download from Apple Books. Contact me at for purchase and shipping information.

Link to Apple Books:

Unfortunately, the book is not available through Kindle, Kindle does not publish in landscape. Bummer. I am recording this for Audiobooks, targeted for December.

Many Roads Lead to Rome

NEOM – Near Tabuk, KSA – Sept. 2, 2021 – “Discovering” a Natural Amphitheatre in the Desert.

Some…go to Design School

Some…get an MFA


I’ve been asked by my students and the occasional TEA NextGen about my Career Path.

How did I get to where I am (wherever that is)?

The answer is through trial and error, taking chances, following my nose, embracing opportunity, living the dream and living the nightmare, venturing out on the limb, surviving the falls…sometimes just barely, celebrating the victories…and acknowledging the teams that made those victories possible, knowing we rarely accomplish, alone…making mistakes and learning from them, from hiding neither the error nor the lesson learned from it and seeking the lessons inherent in everything… Trusting in the Universe to support…and learning that while the Universe will always support us, it may not be in the ways we might envision or prefer.

And overall; that nowhere is it written in stone that one must stick with a chosen path when that path turns out to be a bad fit or a mistake. Learn from it, take the lessons along to the Next Thing, and the Next Thing, and the Next…

I do not believe that Everything Happens for a Reason. I do believe that there are lessons inherent in everything that happens. I believe that there is no shame in not knowing an answer, and that the shame is in hiding the not-knowing. I hope to learn every day, with every job and gig and in every relationship. Knowing everything would be boring; n’est-çe pas? I believe that Faking It til You’ Make It is a philosophy founded on a Lie.

I strive to learn openly, to seek and see the best that’s possible in others and give the best that’s possible from me. I believe in encouraging and inspiring others to venture out onto the Limb of What’s Possible. I believe in truth, clarity, integrity, honor and candor (sometimes to my political detriment), in saying what one means, meaning what one says and keeping one’s word…and acknowledging the occasional failure without excuse when one’s word goes unkept.

Those philosophies have made for an interesting journey through Life, and I am fairly certain that it ain’t over, yet. The Career Path has been circuitous, and every job embraced and completed has in some way informed the next one and the next one and those down the line.

So. All that in prelude to the laying out of my Career Path. It is clearly not a Route Planned and Followed; and I don’t know that I would recommend it. When and if I write an autobiography or memoirs, the title will be “Don’t Try This at Home!”

Though, here I am with a veritable wealth of Experience and experiences, a vast panoply of unique friends and unforgettable acquaintances and the knowledge gained from jumping in with both feet, digging in with both hands to every opportunity that appeals.

So. Beginning in 1967:

  • Car Wash (Klamath Falls, OR)
  • Floral Delivery Guy (also Klamath Falls)
  • Stockroom @ Lane Bryant (Also Klamath Falls.)
  • Swim Coach / Lifeguard / City Pool Manager (Yreka, CA)
  • Bartender (Georgetown. DC)
  • Waiter / Bartender Olde Ebbitt Grill (DC)
  • Movie Theatre Manager (Key Theatre – Georgetown)
  • Fly-Ahead / In-Port Program Manager – South Pacific and Asia (Semester at Sea)
  • Waiter / Bartender (Steak & Ale/Orange County Mining Company (Orange, CA)
  • Staff Member Senator Mark O. Hatfield (DC)
  • Staff Member GSA (DC)
  • Staff Member US Dept of State / US Youth Council (DC)
  • National Youth Director President Ford Campaign (DC) 12 Advance Teams x 3 Events per day, Nationwide, General Campaign.
  • Executive Director American Petroleum Refiner’s Association Political Action Committee (DC)
  • Director Tom Wiens for State Treasurer Campaign (Denver)
  • 1979 Came Out. Left Republican Politics. Moved to San Francisco. 
  • Import Coordinator Levi Strauss & Co (SF)
  • Director Corporate Communications San Francisco Chamber of Commerce
  • Writer / Reporter Pacific Telesis Corporate Communications (SF) 
  • Show and Event Producer @ FM Productions (SF)
  • December 31, 1979/January 1, 1980 – First appearance onstage at “Beach Blanket Babylon” 
  • 1984 – 1990 Self-Employed / Freelance Ceremony, State Visits of Presidents, Queens, Religious leaders, Quarterbacks, Inaugural and Fleet Week productions, National Theatrical Tours, Writing Team for “Beach Blanket Babylon Goes to the Stars” (with Armistead Maupin and Steve Silver SF) and Producer “Hands Across America” (Chicago), Writer, Director, Producer of National Centennial Tour for Stanford University (raised US$1billion from ballrooms full of weeping millionaires).
  • 1990 – 1995 Self-Employed / Freelance Movie Location Manager Film (Los Angeles) “December,” “Me, Myself and I” many forgettables.
  • 1992 – Candlelight Ceremony National AIDS Memorial Quilt @ Lincoln Memorial. Writer, Producer ,Director. Audience of 250,000
  • 1993 – 1994 Gay Games Opening/Closing Ceremonies Yankee Stadium Producer Director Audience of 60,000
  • 1994 – 1995 Universal Studios Attraction Development
  • 1995 – 1996 Creative Director Universal Studios Florida
  • 1996 – Left Orlando for Manhattan.
  • 1996 – 2008 Self Employed Producer & Consulting Development Officer (NYC) Harvard Law, Babson College, Stanford University Touring Campaign for Undergraduate Education (another $1Billion +), Hamilton College, Mayo Clinic, Hotopp, Carabiner, Jack Morton, ICE, Other agencies
  • 2005 – 2006 Opening Closing Ceremonies Gay Games Soldier Field & Wrigley Field. Writer, Creative Director, Director
  • 2009 – Live Show Producer (Melbourne, Sydney, Perth Australia)
  • 2010 – Specialist and Studio Instructor, Apple SoHo
  • 2011 – Director 50th Anniversary Celebrations Amnesty International – USA (NYC)
  • 2012 – Launched the Blog: 
  • 2012 – 2013 Studio Instructor Apple SF
  • 2013 – 2016 to Dubai – State and Dubai National Day Ceremonies, Brand Experience and Product Launches, Motiongate Theme Park, Dubai Eye, Opened YAS Waterworld, Wrote/Directed “Hoyamal!” Pearl Diving Show, also for YAS Waterworld.
  • 2016 – return to SF for several months. Met an amazing guy.
  • 2016 – return to Dubai to write Live Show and Streetmosphere strategy with EXPO2020DUBAI
  • 2017 – return to SF self employment and My Amazing Guy. Palo Alto History Museum
  • 2017 – 2019 Looking for work. (SF) Lyft Driver
  • 2019 – Consulting Creative Director – Freeman XP/San Francisco
  • 2020 – COVID – dead in the water. Built the Book: “IMEx – In My Experience | secrets of making ‘em cheer, weep…and sometimes write checks

  • April 2021 – July 2022 – Director of Concept Integrity @ SELA Parks and Events, Saudi Arabia (Festivals, Ceremonies, Destination Design.

and, btw:


  • Georgetown University School of Foreign Service BS – Graduated on Schedule
  • Italian Studies Center of Portland State U at Pavia Italy – Sophomore Year
  • Chapman College – now Chapman University – 2nd Frosh Semester
  • Semester at Sea – 1st Frosh Semester


Popular throughout the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies, “IMEX: In My Experience | secrets of making ‘em cheer, weep…and sometimes write checks” is now available in the beautiful and durable Field Edition as well as download from Apple Books. Contact me at for purchase and shipping information.

Link to Apple Books:

Unfortunately, the book is not available through Kindle, Kindle does not publish in landscape. Bummer. I am recording this for Audiobooks, targeted for December.

THIS: Just In…

So, this just happened … Martin Palicki, editor of InPark Magazine, read The Book, “In My Experience – Secrets of Making ’em Cheer, Weep…and sometimes write checks.” He enjoyed it and had some questions; thus we spoke about it in his podcast, released earlier this week…

NOTE: Link in image does not work – here is the link to the podcast:

Maybe take ten and listen to the conversation (that’s the link ⬆️). It’s fun, it’s accessible, it’s brief it’s informative and occasionally revelatory…qualities attributable to pretty much every chapter of the book, actually!

The book is about managing creativity, about getting the best from our teams and giving our best to our audiences. In the context of practical anecdotes are shared techniques, tools, methodologies…risks taken, mistakes made, hard lessons learned and unexpected discoveries, the power of silence, the empowerment of collaboration and the effectiveness of listening. It’s all the “soft stuff” that isn’t generally written about or taught in classrooms (other than mine!); fitting hand-in-hand with the more technical books written in and for our industries.

Here’s the Thing. As I say to Martin in the podcast, the book was written to be read. Selling copies is, for me, a distant priority to simply sharing the information and launching conversations.

So. Maybe read this thing: I believe there is resonance and relevance to be found there…


  • Downloadable on Apple Books for US$34.99 in 51 Countries
  • Amazon/Kindle only prints in Portrait, and the book is laid-out in Landscape. Thus, no Kindle edition. I know, bums me, too.
  • The print copy of the book, labeled “Field Edition,” is 8.5″ x 11″ – reduced in size (though not in content) so as more easily fit into backpacks, briefcases and bookshelves. (AND it’s personally inscribed by the author to the owner.)
  • Cost to print has run from $60 – $100. The print edition is a darn nice book-experience; but there is no difference in what’s between the front cover and the back.
  • I’ll be doing another print run, soon. Have sold 300 copies to date.
  • If the download cost is in any way an obstacle; just let me know and I’ll gift you an iOS-friendly pdf. As I say, I simply want the information shared.
  • I’m in the process of recording the audio edition of the book. Another month or so for that.


So there you have it. Get a copy. Read it, Create and Build!

See you at SATE and IAAPA. / +1.347.268.2953