Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Trevor Project: Fundraising Update

In our third update about the Starbucks incident we asked for help. We asked that if you, too, were displeased by the way Starbucks handled the situation, to please forgo one cup of Starbucks coffee, and instead donate $5 to The Trevor Project.

The Trevor Project is an organization that strives to prevent suicide in LGBTQ youth through 24 hour hotlines, an online community, and other outreach programs.  (For those not "in the know" with terminology, LGBTQ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Queer, which basically attempts to encompass every degree of sexuality that varies of the path of Straight as an Arrow.)  Teens with no where else to turn can find support, advocacy, and acceptance.  Please go here to read more about it.

I don't know Jeffrey personally, I've never met him except for the 5 minutes in the Starbucks parking lot when we followed him outside, but I do know that he has a supportive mother and now thousands of strangers reaching out to offers words of support.  But not everybody has that.  And in light of this situation, that has us feeling both grateful and helpless, we want to make sure that others in similar situations of bullying and harrassment based on their sexuality, find support somewhere.  And for this reason, we have chosen The Trevor Project as an area of focus.

On the original blog post where we asked for donations and asked people to let us know that they participated there are loads of comments with people letting us know that they are on board and have donated.  On the Facebook page for Lil Family Blog there are more pledges and donations, and where we've shared on Twitter and our personal Facebook pages, friends and families have reposted and made donations.

The Trevor Project has contacted me and let me know that their usual donations (via text message) are about 4-6 a day.  In the past two days they have received 52, which equals $260.  (And I know some of our friends and readers donated on the donation page of the website via credit card.  So in just two days, we HAVE made a difference.  The respresentative has also told me that it costs $15 to field ONE incoming call on the suicide crisis hotline, so for fundraising purposes they equate every $15 to one life saved.  So, so far the readers of Lil Family Blog and everyone supporting Jeffrey have already saved 17 lives by skipping a cup of coffee.  But I want to save more.

We have set a goal of $1,000  -  a total of 66 young lives saved.  We are 25+% of the way there.  But we need more help!  Please keep texting your $5!   Using your mobile phone, text: TREVOR to 85944 to donate $5.00 to The Trevor Project, or you can just enter your phone number in the box below.  Please forward this link to everyone you know.  Post it on your Twitter and Facebook.  Send it to your favorite celebrities and news outlets.  We need YOU to help us spread the word.  In a situation where something horrible has happened, and there is nothing else we can do about it... we want to make something REALLY positive come out of it.  Send a message to Starbucks that their inaction won't be tolerated and there is somewhere better to spend your $5.

Please comment on the blog and let us know when you've donated (especially if you have donated via credit card on the website) so we can keep a tally and let everyone know when we've reached our $1,000 goal.

Say NO to homophobia, and say YES to saving a young life affected by it.

Thanks to everyone for all your support, both financially, supportive comments, and word of mouth.

--  Dana Alison

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Words from Karen, Jeffrey's Mom (related to the Starbucks incident)

Thank you to everyone who read and passed along our third update to the Starbucks situation.  (And if you haven't read it yet, go here: ) We have made it our mission to make something good come out of this, so we are asking for donations to The Trevor Project for $5, the approximate cost of a coffee drink at Starbucks.  (And I am going to put the info at the bottom of this page again.)

Jeffrey's mom, Karen, has reached out to us to thank us.  She "never thought in a million years any person would go out on a limb and help another is such a way."  She asked if I would post this letter from her on the blog.  Please read, and if you feel inspired by her words, please comment to her, repost and share. Every person that shares these messages is doing their part to help spread awareness and to help Jeffrey seek some justice.

Inspired Yet?
by Karen

"To inspire and nurture the human spirit - one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.

Here are the principles of how we live that every day:"

Approximately 2 weeks ago a member of my family, my son Jeff, was exposed to the above message.  This message is an excerpt of the Starbucks mission statement

I only hope that no one else is exposed to this statement as my son was.

Three female employees ganged up on him publicly in the middle of a Centereach Starbucks store and openly spoke about store polices and how he may or may not have been wrong in front of the entire store, customers and other employees this "to inspire and nurture the human spirit?"

According to Missy, a Starbucks customer, who as you probably have read her letter on this blog witnessed the entire incident as he was publicly bashed regarding being gay in front of the entire store when Jeff went to the men's this "to inspire and nurture the human spirit.?"

After Jeff, publicly humiliated, collected himself and came back from the men's room, the rant continued to a point where Jeff is now this "to inspire and nurture the human spirit?"

Is anyone feeling inspired yet?

If we as the public do not display our distaste for this kind of behavior it may inspire and nurture the human spirit for other employees to engage in the same disgusting behavior toward another human being publicly, whether that person is Gay, Black, White, Chinese, Japanese or any other race, color or creed that comes into the Starbucks stores around the world.
Frightening, isn't it.

With the inappropriate behavior of these 3 Starbucks employees in front of children (like Missy's child) how are we to teach our children not to bully other children to the extent of their humiliation and not wanting to go to school or maybe even worse.

Regarding this Starbucks incident.....Missy has demonstrated that there are people out there willing to stand up for what is right and help others.  My hat is off to Missy.  I have never met her,  but she stands for the unity of humanity that is a good lesson for all of us to live by.  Now that is inspiring.

Jeff has received many emails and support from people all over the world which touched him deeply.  It gives me a new found hope that someday there will be harmony among the human race.

Again, please visit our latest update to see our Call for Action.

--  Dana

STARBUCKS UPDATE: Part 3. Inaction and Broken Promises

It's been two weeks since Missy and my blog post that turned our world upside down.  So much happened so quickly in that first week.  More than we ever imagined.  But then sadly, in the second week, nothing happened.  Starbucks was very quick to come out with a public statement declaring their policy towards diversity.  But we are sad to report, it seems to be nothing more than words.

We never expected the original message to reach AS many people as it did, and I was overwhelmed at the outpour of support and love.  In addition to the public comments, Missy and I both received a few hundred personal emails and messages of people's gratitude and personal stories.  I tried to write back to every one I received, because everyone's personal experience with homophobia and/or bullying is just as important.  Because of the public attention this received, we CAN make this about more than one person.  We can help many people; we can make a statement.

So, here's a call for action.  If you too are outraged by the situation and you want to both send a message and make a difference... read on.  Missy has written a personal letter and account with what happened since and I am going to post it here, but at the bottom of the page, I'll write the specific details of our plea for help.

Thanks again to everyone who cared enough to read, forward, comment on, and help bring this situation to light.

--  Dana


Dear Everyone,

Thank you.  In the past few weeks I have been absolutely shocked by the response my open letter to Starbucks received.  At the time I wrote what I thought was a simple customer service letter, a letter that had too many characters to fit into email field on Starbuck’s customer service website, so Dana had the idea to put it up on her blog, that way we could also share it with our friends to share OUR shock at the fact that this sort of thing still happens in this day and age in America, and it happens in an environment that prides itself on being a tolerant work place.  If it can happen there it can happen anywhere.  That was the intention of the blog, at the time the ONLY place I posted a link was on my facebook wall to share with my friends.  While it was not my original intention to post the letter to a blog, I liked that we did, because to me, I felt like that would make it harder for Starbucks to sweep the situation under the rug. To me, if it was public record it might force their hand to take action.

What happened next was unexpected. Thirty Four of our (Dana’s and my) friends reposted this link. That was the start of the seed thirty four people, were so outraged by what they read that they reposted and they asked others to, and so on and so on until it just exploded. Thirty four people, some gay, mostly straight... all of them outraged by the lack of basic human decency they read about. The bigotry. They all sent the same message, “This is unacceptable. We are better than this.”  The out pouring of love an support for Jeffrey and the LGBT community was a beautiful thing to experience.  For every negative comment there were five or six more offering support or their own similar story.  I was touched that what I wrote resonated with so many people.  That it sparked so many people to take action.

However I’m sad to say it did not cause everyone to take action.
I am writing this to say that we were lied to. Every single one of us.

The initial reaction from Starbucks was a form letter, which of course was disappointing.  Which is what I feared and was a reason why I was pleased with our decision to put the letter on the blog. To me that proved that it was not me that captured Starbucks attention, it was the diligence of all of you who posted it, and encouraged others to do the same. Within hours Starbucks responded to me directly via twitter, a few hours after that I got a phone call from Brad at their corporate offices to take my statement. I was promised they were taking the matter very seriously. I was promised that they would do a complete and thorough investigation and I was promised that I would be kept informed. They asked me, what I wanted out of this and I told them,

“I just want you to make this right. Whatever that means. Make it right. Handle the situation.  I don’t want blood, I don’t want these women’s jobs. Make it right. At the very least, if this young man did feel persecuted  do not let a black mark follow him on his employment record.”

They promised me that they would do whatever it took. They told me that they were writing a blog that linked to our letter directly to show how seriously they were taking it.
I took them at their word, that they were horrified by the situation. That they were going to look into it and that they were better than the way those women represented them.  The conversation ended with them thanking me for bringing this event to their attention.

At that point I took to my twitter, my facebook wall and the Starbucks facebook wall to basically say, “I am the woman who wrote the corporate letter to Starbucks. I have spoken to a representative and they have promised me they are investigating and taking this matter very seriously. We now have to step back and give them a chance to right this wrong and have faith that they will do it.”

At that point, I stopped reposting the link. I offered them the respect and the space to do what was right. I had three goals at that point.

1. Capture Starbucks attention and have them take action.
2. Find Jeffrey in the hopes that he would see the outpouring of love and support there was for him.
3. Raise awareness that this sort of thing does happen.

Within hours of speaking to Starbucks, I got a phone call from Jeffrey. A friend of his forwarded him the blog.  I will not reveal the details of our conversation because I do not want to affect the outcome of any further legal action he might take, but I will say, there was so much information made available to me that I of course didn’t know when I wrote the blog.  Information, that I felt, since Starbucks also had it, would make them take swift and serious action.  I was confidant the situation would be resolved.

So I stepped back. I only completed interviews that I agreed to take before speaking to Jeffrey and Starbucks.  In every interview I praised Starbucks response in handling the situation. They addressed it publicly with strongly worded sentiments.  They promised swift action. They praised themselves on being a diverse workspace and they would do anything to protect that reputation.

“Protect that REPUTATION.”

I can now say, two weeks later, I was wrong.
I was lied to and as a result you were lied to as well.

For all of their strongly worded blog posts and tweets DO NOT match their actions.
Rather than completing a thorough investigation they spoke to the women responsible and came to the conclusion that, while they do not deny that the situation took place, I must have misunderstood what I thought I heard.

These are the undeniable facts that can not be spun no matter how hard Starbucks tries... I as a casual customer walked into that Starbucks location, that is 60 miles from my home for the first time and I left knowing:

*They did have an employee named Jeffrey (Warren).
*I did witness him being pushed out of his job, he was bullied humiliated and reduced to tears in the middle of the shop floor. *I left knowing Jeffrey’s sexual orientation, something that should never be brought into and has ZERO bearing on job performance.

Those are the facts.
I was also, not the only one who witnessed the event. My wife caught the tail end of the “rant” when Jeffrey was in the bathroom. She heard the same comments I heard. There was no misunderstanding the situation.

Starbucks rather than doing a through investigation took action to sweep it under the rug and hoped that people forgot or would lose interest.  They were confidant that people would take them on their strongly worded email and the situation would die there.

I ask you, how complete could their investigation have been without ever speaking to Jeffrey? Without asking the “victim” for their statement. Instead their investigation involved asking the women involved, who of course were all trying to protect their jobs.

I don’t know what the outcome of their investigation was. I know what their public response has been and I know that as of the last time I spoke to Jeffrey (just a few days ago) they had STILL not yet contacted him. Nor, had they responded to his lawyer.

They DID NOT take proper action.
Their investigation into the matter was not thorough and it certainly was not fair.
Their goal was not to “right a wrong” but to cover their bottom line and protect their “reputation”.

Starbucks, actions speak louder than words.

I have had so many regrets about the way I handled this. I was too naive. I took them at their word. I stopped reposting the letter. I stopped taking interviews after Jeffrey surfaced unless asked to by Jeffrey because I felt like, at this point it was “His story.” For the record I would also like to say that I personally did not contact a single media outlet. Every single interview I gave was from people who contacted me.  To all the people who say this was a ploy to generate attention for the blog.... Shame on you. Shame on you for being so cynical to think that it is out of the realm of possibility to take a stand for a person without the benefit of personal gain.  That is what is wrong with the world today.  A lack of empathy. 

Dana and I have denied more interviews than we have granted.
We have not made a dime from this ordeal.
This was not even my blog!

This whole incident put our entire family under a microscope and turned our lives into a pressure cooker. This was not “fun” for anyone. Part of my inaction in previous weeks was waiting for it to “blow over” -

I can’t sit by and wait anymore.
I gave Starbucks a respectable amount of time to handle this and take action and they have not.  They after two weeks had still not contacted Jeffrey.  Their lack of action, to me is sending a really dangerous message. That this kind of bullying is acceptable. That if you have deep enough pockets supporting you, you can get away with abusing someone.

I stand by my original statement that Starbucks as a corporation was not responsible for the incident, however, their lack of real action now makes them responsible.

I can’t sleep at night, or look my daughter in the face if I have a chance to make this right and I don’t.  I am desperate to find the silver lining in all of this and I realized if I want something to positive to come out of this, I have to take matters into my own hand because Starbucks had the chance and did nothing to make this right.

So we called The Trevor Project.

I spoke with a representative from their office and expressed my desire to make Lemonade out of these lemons.  To do something, anything, to make this right. To take all of this attention, and take the outrage that people felt reading the blog and to channel it into something positive.  To make a change. To allow us, the people outraged by this event to really make a difference. To send the message that this is unacceptable and if Starbucks won’t make it right than our hands are not tied. We can still do something.  The Trevor Project representative told me he had been following the story, and was pleased that we reached out to them.

On our blog we will be posting a link to the Trevor Project where you can make a donation on behalf of Jeffrey and all of the “Jeffreys” out there in the world.

We are not asking for much. We just ask that rather than give the four dollars you would normally spend a morning on a cup of Starbucks you donate that money to the Trevor Project, where it will go to help LGBT youths at risk, because of the type of bullying I witnessed Jeffrey experience. If you want to donate more, that of course, would be amazing. The more money we can raise for this cause the louder the message we send not just to Starbucks but to the world.

This type of behavior is unacceptable.
We will not let this happen.
We will not tolerate bullying or homophobia.

Please take the time and donate something. If everyone who read that blog post and was moved by it donates even $1, hundreds of thousands of dollars would have been funneled into that charity and would be doing some real good in the world. I know that is a ridiculous expectation to have, but even a fraction of that money can make a REAL difference in the world we live in.

Please donate, please forward this link and encourage your friends to donate.
Let’s as a group, send the message that it does in fact, “Get Better.”
You just have to work really hard and work together to make sure that it does.

Thank you for your time and consideration,
Missy Alison


So, here's our call for action.  If even for one day, please SKIP your cup of Starbucks coffee and take that money and donate to the Trevor Project.

If you are not familiar with them, The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ youth. Every day, The Trevor Project saves young lives through its free and confidential lifeline, in-school workshops, educational materials, online resources and advocacy. To make a donation online, visit

 Or even simpler, to donate quickly and simply, using your mobile phone, text: TREVOR to 85944 to donate $5.00 to The Trevor Project.  Right now, you can spend your coffee money on making a REAL difference without even having to get up and find your credit card.

I've donated my $5 (today) with a simple text.   

If you'd like to, leave a comment and let us know that you've donated.  Let's show Starbucks that we are upset at their inaction, and let's show Jeffrey and everyone LIKE him who has ever been bullied, that we won't tolerate it any more.  It may not just "get better", unless we MAKE it better.  And this is a start. 

(You can comment here, even anonymously if you'd like, and let's see how much money we can raise for the cause.)

 And if you can't donate (or choose not to), that's OK too.  Please help us out by forwarding this link to everyone you know who may care.  We made millions of people aware of the problem, let's now make sure we all hear of the solution.

Thank You.    Seriously, Thank You.

Dana Alison

To keep up with updates you can follow me on Twitter:!/dana_rubyfruit and please "like" our blog fan page on Facebook:

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Missy and I will be married 4 years in August, but New York state only recognizes 3 of those years, and apparently the city hall where Lilian was born chose to disregard our marriage and paperwork and still send out her birth certificate with one parent line blank (even though we were under the impression that we'd both be included.).  (You can read about our weddings and family here.)  There has always been a gray area in the law for us where we have slipped through the cracks, or officials chose to make their own interpretations.  And many places we went in New York weren't even AWARE of the 2008 ruling to recognize out of state marriages.)  We've explained our marriage more times than I can count.  I've answered "but is it 'real?'", "did it really count?", "is it legal?" for the past 4 years.  I've explained the technicalities to my parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, hospital staff and even employers. 

But tonight this all changes.  Just after midnight, the New York senate voted 33-29 to legalize same-sex marriage in New York!  Our Massachusetts marriage still stands and will be considered equal, but now that we are a gay marriage state, hopefully no more explanations will be needed.  Though maybe we'll get married (for a third time) in New York, just because we can!  Just kidding.  At each wedding we only had 2 friends present as witnesses, and it would be nice to invite ALL our friends and family to attend.

And I'm so happy that this happened before Lilian is of the age to really understand what a marriage is.  She knows she has two mommies and that we're all family, but beyond that I don't think she has any comprehension.  So when she does, I'm glad that we'll be able to tell her in black and white, we're married, you are both of our daughter, we're a family, and we have all the same rights as everyone else you know.  And when she goes to school, she'll have a lot less explaining to do.

So, though tonight changes nothing for MY family, in the long run it'll help other change their perception of us.  No more grey areas.  And no more having to beg and explain for the rights that come with marriage to be provided to us with equality.  And although I grew up a Jersey girl (and I was very proud in 2007 when civil unions became legal, and we were the first that the mayor of Hoboken performed that year, we still resented the over 1,000 federal rights we were denied).  But I was a New Yorker from 1997-2003, and again since 2007... and now I can finally say with whole-hearted conviction that I'm proud to ALSO be a New Yorker, where I've spent most of my adult life.

So... WAY TO GO, New York!  Just one word... FINALLY!!!!

It seems EVERYONE has something to say about it... I'm going to put some of my favorite quotes I come across here from both celebrities and friends (if you want me to include yours, leave it in a comment and I'll edit the post to add it!):

"Thank GOD New York passed the gay marriage bill. Fingers crossed in a few months I will FINALLY be able to marry my dog Porkchop. That's what's next right?"  -- my wife, Missy

“Congratulations to humanity.  And particularly to the NY State Senate. I promise you have advanced mankind, not ruined it. Blessings.”   -- Jason Alexander

"First the Muppets took Manhattan, and now the Homos. Congratulations to the Homos. It’s about fuckin’ time!!!"   -- Missy's BFF, Joe

The Twitter tending topics less than 2 hours after the bill's passing include #equalityforall, NYer, Stonewall, West Village, and Andrew Cuomo.

@KateRothwell said "This is a sad, sad day for many CT wedding planners. #blackliningsilvercloud"

"Well, what do you know? It actually did get better, at least in New York."  -- private Tweet from a friend, W.D.

"It PASSED! Marriage equality in NY!! Yes!! Progress!! Thank you everyone who worked so hard on this!! A historic night!"  -- Neil Patrick Harris on Twitter @ActuallyNPH

"As we celebrate tonight, let's spare a warm thought for our opponents, who lost absolutely nothing."  -- @DaveHolmes

"The revolution is ours to fight for love, justice+equality. Rejoice NY, and propose. We did it!!!" -- @LadyGaga

"6 down -- 44 to go."  -- @rainbowlaw

One of the best articles published about it tonight:

Headlines about the historic vote less than an hour after it passed. (Click to see larger)
Empire State building lit for pride!

Wikipedia changed the very first paragraph of the same sex marriage page with the update, also within the hour.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Blog Post that Turned Our Life Upside Down...

Just before Missy's letter to Starbucks went viral, I switched my blog to Wordpress.  Unfortunately, I haven't been happy with WordPress for several reasons, so I am going to come back to my Blogger site.  Until I can get redirect up and running (and i have to wait 60 days before I can move my domain)....  I will link in both places.  Thanks for reading, and thanks for following me back and forth!

Tomorrow, we are going to write "Update 3," everything that is going on with the Starbucks situation, but for now....

 Here are links to all of the blog posts and articles all in one place....

"The" Letter to Starbucks blog post that went viral:

Update 1:

Update 2, A Letter From Jeffrey:

Missy's TV interview:

Various Links where our Story has been Reported and Shared:   (If you found/have more links, please share and I'll add them here)

The first news article about that had been brought to my attention:

And a second article:
Starbucks has issued an official response to our letter:

Picked up by a Seattle news station:
KiroTV page
A Google Search brings up our photo.
The Patch articles that made the cover of The Huffington Post!
The blog on Wordpress got 260,000+ hits in just a few days!

6/17/11 - Lil Family Blog was one of WordPress's top 10 Blogs!

Sunday, June 12, 2011


My whole childhood and early adulthood (mostly during childhood) I had a recurring nightmare.  In it, my skin was slowly turning into a honeycomb-like texture.  I had this nightmare for most of my childhood, but never told anybody about it until I was an adult.  But since then, I’ve had a “fear” of holes.  I’m not sure “fear” is the right word… maybe aversion.  Things with series of holes (sponges, honeycombs, seedpods, English muffins, the way little bubbles come to the surface when garlic is cooking in oil, olive loaf meat, etc.) make me uneasy, sick, itchy, and give me physical anxiety symptoms (the shakes, skin crawling feeling, nausea, spins/dizziness, heart racing, etc.)  I’ve explained this to my wife… but I don’t think I’ve talked about it with anyone else really beyond saying “ugh, I can’t stand holes.”  But before tonight, I’ve never really verbalized or had words for why/how holes affect me.

Then tonight, I saw a photo on someone’s Facebook wall of a Surinam Toad (google it and you’ll see what I mean)…. I googled it and immediately started shivering and got ill.  That google search though brought up the word Trypophobia and I started reading and I was shocked.  I seriously had no idea anyone else on the planet felt the same way I did, let alone there was a word for it.  Many people’s forum posts and articles were describing “me”.  It’s not a debilitating anxiety for me… because it’s rare that I see something that triggers it, but I definitely won’t have a career as a beekeeper.  But reading that other people suffer the same anxiety felt like a break through moment for me for some reason.  It’s been the ONLY recurring nightmare I’ve had as a lifelong issue (once I got robbed at gunpoint and I had recurring nightmares surrounding that for a few months but it went away, and other situations like that), so to find out there are other people is reassuring somehow.

Reading all about it, of course forced me to see tons of photos about it tonight… and now I have shivers and chills, electric crawling skin, and nausea… but it still feels like a weight off my shoulders for some reason.  I’m not going to post any photos here, but if you do an image search for Trypophobia, you’ll find hundreds and you can see what I mean.

Anyone else reading this have the same type of physical reaction or recurring nightmares?  It’s 1:20am and I doubt I’ll be able to go to sleep now.

Trypophobia test:

(Originally posted at: ) 

Monday, June 6, 2011

We've moved!

We've moved!
Please find Lil Family Blog at
Thanks for reading!!!

*EDIT* 6/25/11 - JUST KIDDING... we're back!  Wordpress did NOT work out, so the blog will stay HERE.   Thanks for reading!
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