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Melissa Carter: Marking the first Memorial Day without ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Melissa CarterMy father was a war veteran. During a debate on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” with me years ago, he shared his thoughts on why straight men in the military were uncomfortable with gays serving.

It had nothing to do with sexuality, my dad explained, but instead came from an interpretation of weakness. He personally had no concern about someone hitting on him, but he was convinced a gay man would lose his nerve in battle and cause my father to die along with him.

That was based on the way my father grew up, thinking the only gay men he knew were the extremely effeminate men he saw around town and misinterpreted their character and womanly gait as frail.

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Melissa Carter: We can help bridge the gap between past neglect and future stability

Melissa CarterI think we’ve made great progress with Trevor. Our first foster dog, this GoldenDoodle was found on the streets of Alabama and sent to Adopt A Golden Atlanta.

A few years ago, we adopted our dog GiGi from Adopt-A-Golden. They asked that we foster Trevor and try to get him more comfortable and emotionally healthy so he could one day soon be moved into a loving and permanent home.

When Trevor came to us he kept his distance, literally. We let him out in our fenced back yard and that is where he stayed, choosing instead to sleep outside the first night. He wouldn’t let us pet him and showed his teeth to our other animals when they came too close.

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Melissa Carter: How can we help LGBT youth be not only out, but proud?

Melissa CarterIt seems that suicide is spilling into our headlines more than ever before, with another gay teenager falling victim to this tragic trend a couple weeks ago.

Kenneth Weishuhn Jr. of Iowa took his own life at the age of 14, after being tormented by classmates for his decision last month to come out. His mother told The Washington Post that Kenneth quickly became the target of threatening cellphone calls, voicemails, and online comments.

Kenneth was a popular kid in school, but only when classmates thought he was straight. Once they learned his truth, Kenneth’s peers quickly turned on him and that rejection led to his death April 15.

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Melissa Carter: Chill pill anyone?

Melissa CarterDoes your family accept your sexuality? Do your friends and co-workers? If the answer is no, and there was a pill that would cure them of that prejudice, would you give it to them? I’m sure most would say yes and the possibility of such a pill is not science fiction.

British researchers have been studying the issue of racism and found that a common heart disease drug seems to lower racist attitudes as well as blood pressure.  The study was conducted at Oxford University where volunteers were divided into two groups.  One was given the drug Propranolol while the other took a placebo.  Propranolol is a beta blocker used to treat blood pressure, but can also be used in managing panic and anxiety disorders.

In one test, the groups were asked to sort pictures of black and white faces into categories along with positive and negative words.  In another, they were asked to report how warm they felt towards certain groups, including blacks and Muslims.

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Melissa Carter: Not quite home improvement

Melissa CarterWhen you own an older home, improvement projects come with the territory. Theoretically, these occasional updates to your dwelling should be fun. But for me, they are a source of high anxiety.

The reason is because the woman I live with is determined to complete as many of these projects as possible all on her own even though she has no qualifications whatsoever to be doing construction work, plumbing work, electrical work, flooring installation, etc. The result is that I have to stay at the house while these little projects are being undertaken, prepared at any minute to call 911.

For example, Katie decided months ago she no longer wanted a ceiling fan in our bedroom, so she took it down. Those wires protruding through the ceiling seemed to wave in jest at us each morning until last weekend, when Katie found a new light fixture and decided it was time to fix the problem.

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Melissa Carter: It’s not new love we should celebrate

VMelissa Carteralentine’s Day is a time to celebrate love — or at least the idea of how love could be. We see plenty of examples of young romance on television and in movies. But I wish there were more portrayals of couples still hot for each other after years together. Those are the couples who have figured out what true love really is and remind us that sometimes the secret is more simple than you would think. 

My parents were married for 50 years until my father passed away from cancer in 2001. Their unique and touching romantic gestures towards each other began when they were newlyweds and had no money. On their first anniversary she arrived home from her teaching job and checked the mailbox first like she did every day.

Inside was a letter informing her that her gift was upstairs waiting for her. When she got to her bedroom, there was my dad waiting for her wearing a bow. My mom is in her ‘80s and this story still makes her smile and blush when she tells it.

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Melissa Carter: Listen up, ladies. Stop being gross in 2012.

Melissa CarterIt’s a brand new year. Crowds of resolution-inspired men and women are rushing to gyms and health food stores all over town to satisfy their internal promises. This time of year we make all kinds of goals. We pledge to spend more time with family and friends, kick the smoking habit, get out of debt, and try the latest diet.

I have another resolution to add to the To-Do list, but this one is just for women: Get cleaner in the public restrooms. Quite simply, ladies, you are nasty in the bathroom. And it needs to change. Now.

In recent weeks, I attended the standard regiment of holiday parties at bars and restaurants, and scoured the city for the perfect Christmas gifts. While on my trek, I was forced to frequent several public bathrooms. This is the breakdown of what I have experienced. And it isn’t pretty.

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Melissa Carter: Peace, joy, and … family?

Melissa CarterChristmas is a time for joy and peace — until you get around your family. There always seems to be one nagging holiday issue that resurfaces each year for every clan.

It might be where and when you gather, or even who gets to come celebrate. For my family, the big issue has always been determining the best gift exchange scenario.

It began after I started college. Since I was the youngest child, my parents finally had an empty nest. As a broke college student, I cried to my mom that I wasn’t going to be able to buy proper gifts for my whole family, which then forced her to initiate the conversation with everyone about a structured gift exchange to save us all money. Twenty years later we still haven’t found an arrangement that makes everyone happy.

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Melissa Carter: Symbols to help you navigate the holiday season

Melissa CarterStress. Thanksgiving weekend has a way of piling on the stress for a lot of us every year. Regardless of whether the stressor is connected to the size of the turkey, layovers in Omaha, dealing with car rental companies or the joy of hours spent in a room with certain family members, the idea of thankfulness can get lost in the chaos.

This year, I suggest you create a symbol, something which represents the idea of appreciation. It will help get you through the weekend and weeks ahead with joy and remind you to be thankful regardless of what you may be dealing with this holiday season.

I recently gave a speech to hundreds of patients who had either received an organ transplant or were waiting for one. As a kidney transplant recipient, I talked about my challenging days on dialysis and showed the audience items I use today to remember the lessons I learned while sick.

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Melissa Carter: A story to get you in the Halloween mood

Melissa CarterIn honor of Halloween season, I wanted to share a story I heard on the Roswell Ghost Tour. I love this time of year when our imaginations are allowed to roam free. So for all of you with ghoulish minds wide open, this one is for you.

Susan tripped on something in the hallway.

Ouch! What was that? Susan squinted and looked on the floor to see what she had tripped over. She saw that the culprit had been one of Alison’s dolls that had been left in the hallway near her daughter’s closed bedroom door. In fact, several of Alison’s dolls were on the floor, lined up perfectly next to one another, side-by-side, along the baseboard.