The Other Side Of Life: Hashtag Amity

By : Jason LeClerc
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I was recently honored to be a guest of Pulse founder Barbara Poma for an intimate talk and tour of the interim #PulseMemorial organized by Equality Florida. As regular readers of this column know, I’m Watermark’s token conservative columnist: a red soul in a sea of blue, even as I have advocated for a just-right-of-center, nuanced approach to political discourse that I call Radical Centrism.

Arguing from a position of empathy and fact-driven rationality in favor of such positions as climate change resiliency, justifiable local taxation and the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, I have riled members of my own Party. In the age of Trump, I’ve become a bit of a #RINOsaur. While there are members of the current Republican power structure who are ready to revoke my membership card for some of my #RadicalCentrist positions, my attendance of an Equality Florida event would likely push them further toward apoplexy.

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The Other Side of Life: Jane Castor and American Exceptionalism

By : Jason Leclerc
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LGBTQ is not a qualification. Woman is not a qualification.

These are genetic characteristics, inscribed on a human’s chromosomes at conception (or, in a religio-metaphysical sense, since the conception of the heavens).

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The Other Side of Life: Standing with Kneelers

By : Jason Leclerc
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Another football season is upon us. Thank God. Thank America.

I stand for the National Anthem. Even at sports bars, if the sound is turned up, I’m that guy who feels compelled to slide off my stool and remove my ball cap while “The Star-Spangled Banner” plays. I’m, admittedly, obnoxious that way. For the dozens of other people around me who don’t partake in this symbolic ceremony, I have no judgment. This, though not hidden, is a private act: a moment of reflection. I know that for those in fields and stadiums and parks and for other hoppy-fruity patriots in other bars, the moments that precede kickoff—including humming or mouthing along to this sonorous anthem—are as important to me as touchdown dances, chest bumps and the high drama of red zone defensive stands.

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The Other Side of Life: Join or Die

By : Jason Leclerc
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Dear Self,

If 2017 was the worst year of your life, bookended by incomprehensible tweets about Inauguration crowd sizes and climate change, I invite you to look beyond your cynical hysteria and forward to 2018.

I invite you to reflect on the future in light of history’s—recent and less so—actualities. Whether you want to attribute the actuality of Trump’s inertia to lack of vision, to political ineptitude or to strategic design, most of the doomsday scenarios predicted by a combination of #NeverTrump Conservative purists and #NotMyPresident activists still remain in the realm of circumstantial allegation.

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The Other Side of Life: The Other Hands, The Other We

By : Jason Leclerc
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Hands, it seems, are the new eyes: tools for feeling our way through the many ways we see our America.

Given the flurry of historical reassessments we are currently experiencing, I find that many of my conservative friends are torn between seeing and feeling, between their commitment to their ideals and their short termer’s allegiance with political expediency.

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The Other Side of Life: All That Freedom, And a Bag of Chips (eh?)

By : Jason Leclerc
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“We don’t need two bags of chips,” I scowled, “but, I reckon they’ll keep.” Who was I to turn down a Publix BOGO sack of Ruffles. I expected full well that they’d be devoured in time for the next week’s grocery trip; all we had to do was pay full price for the first bag.

We started with the All-American Classics then scoured the shelf for the gimmicky “get-one.” Four curious eyes zeroed in on the maple leaf-decorated ‘All-Dressed’ flavor. Since our autumn visit to Toronto, we were open to things that our northern-nation neighbors had to offer. We joked, right there in the snack aisle, about poutines-as-fake-nachos. We laughed about how a kilometer was only two-thirds of a mile and how a loonie was only three-fourths of a dollar. Even their easy-on-the-eyes leader is a scaled-down version of our own odd, party-sized POTUS.

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The other side of life: Intersections

By : Jason Leclerc
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Over the past year, we’ve tread the intersection of Kaley Street and South Orange Avenue as it’s become a crossroads swollen with mourners, with meaning. It meets the intersection of Christopher and Seventh. It meets the intersection of Pride and unity, where the Rainbow Flag meets an ongoing aggregation of initials. It meets the intersection of politics and partisanship and guns and economic equity.

Even as we make these intersections into hallowed spaces, each carrying the foot traffic of omnipresent ghosts, we are obliged to recognize that history is a gift from the past to the present – another intersection where the crosswalks are overwhelmed by facts and their pedestrian interpretations. The past lives alongside the present.

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The Other Side of Life: ARC of the Covenant

By : Jason Leclerc
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Remember when, in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the NAZIs found the Ark of the Covenant and thought it would make them invincible? Remember that scary scene when they opened it and out came a host of spirits that eviscerated the evil warmongers, stripping them of their skin down to bare bones? I was seven when that movie came out and that scene was so frightening that I was escorted from the theater in a trail of horrified tears.

I was a sensitive child.

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The Other Side of Life: Co-opting love

By : Jason Leclerc
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Third grade can be tough for husky-gened boys with dual penchants for strawberry-scented redheads and other boys. Elementary schoolyards can easily become home base for meanness and reductionism, two proclivities that inhabit most eight-year-old bosoms.

Those same third graders easily immerse themselves in the rhetoric of love: in the clear and unambiguous enunciations of who is and is not deserving of one’s love. Implied in such proclamations is ownership of love, that it is somehow off limits to those not included in the normative society of lovers. In my 1983, love and hate coupled and grew alongside the concepts of “opposites” and “revenge” with as much ferocity as long division and times tables.

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The other side of life: Kittens And-Also SpaceTime

By : Jason Leclerc
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Jason Leclerc

When I was commissioned for this article, I was clear that I wanted to put the election behind us; my topic would be kittens.

So. Kittens.

With that settled and with smiles on our faces, let’s proceed.

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The other side of life: A full-throated endorsement

By : Jason Leclerc
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Jason Leclerc

When it comes down to it, I probably have more quality experience than either of the (realistic) presidential candidates in at least one thing: oral. I’ve been performing it for decades.

They just aren’t as eloquent. They just aren’t listeners.

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The Other Side of Life: Conversion therapy

By : Jason LeClerc
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Jason Leclerc

Long before I became aware of consciousness – an occurrence part way through my 11th grade year, perched between The Scarlet Letter and Leaves of Grass – I was merely aware. Around the age of three, I discovered that I was male and that the possession of an extra appendage made me fundamentally and anatomically different from mothers and sisters.

I knew, even then, that it made me powerful. Shortly after that, around the age of five, I realized that the love that was showered upon me was a special gift – an entitlement bestowed – from God. I knew that I was loved by Jesus and by others who carried Jesus in their hearts. I knew that I was Christian. At the age of seven, a first grader mesmerized by a charming and optimistically charismatic Ronald Reagan, I knew that I was a Republican. Certainly, I’ve learned (and continue to learn) much more about myself as I’ve acquired more life experiences: I am white, I am American, I am gay. I respect hard work and call out for personal responsibility. I believe incentives matter and that respect for all life is fundamental to village life.

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