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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Scary Article Makes Me Not Want to Go to Jamaica

Huffington Post Article by Johann Hari

The Stonewall Riots Haven't Stopped-They've Gone Global

It is now forty years since the start of a riot for freedom in a small tavern in New York City - and the riot has never stopped. It is spreading slowly across the world, to every continent, to Mumbai and Shanghai and Dubai. Everywhere it goes, it wins, in time. Yet on June 28th 1969, it seemed only like another sixties ruck in the muck against corrupt cops.

The Stonewall Tavern was a bar in Greenwich Village where gay people huddled together to find friends and lovers in a hostile country on a hostile planet. It was a hang-out for everyone from macho bikers to drag queens making the pilgrimage from Ohio and Iowa and Kansas. One of the regulars said that until he discovered the bar, "I felt like I was the only one... I only knew enough to hide." The regulars were harming nobody; they were only enjoying themselves. But the local police force was fond of busting the bar, and beating and imprisoning the clientele. They only allowed the bar to stay open at all because they were being bribed by local gay gangsters.

But one day, gay people decided they had had enough of cowering and hiding and being told they were sick. On the day of Judy Garland's funeral, the police smashed their way into the Stonewall. The historian Martin Duberman distils what happened next into a single image: "A leg, poured into nylons and sporting a high heel, shot out of a paddy wagon into the chest of a cop, throwing him backwards." The drag queen yelled: "Nobody's gonna fuck with me no more!" And the global riot began.

It was the turning point in the fight for equality for gay people. Within four decades, goals that would have seemed impossible to those fighters that night were achieved: openly gay Prime Ministers, gay marriage in Europe and parts of the US, legal bans on discrimination. The gay rights movement was a cry for the right to love in the darkness. It is a model of democratic pressure: a minority peacefully appealing to the decency of the majority, and prevailing. It's the strongest antidote to cynicism that I know.

The conversation about gay people has been so soaked in theology for so long that it's important to state some hard empirical facts. Homosexuality is a naturally occurring phenomenon that happens in every human society. Everywhere, around 2-5 percent of human beings prefer to have sex with their own gender. It occurs at the heart of nature: only last week, a major study by Professors Nathan Bailey and Marlene Zuk of the University of California found: "The variety and ubiquity of same-sex sexual behaviour in animals is impressive - many thousands of instances of same-sex courtship, pair bonding and copulation have been observed in a wide range of species, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, molluscs and nematodes."

Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it. It doesn't mean anything. It is a harmless genetic quirk. It has always happened, and it always will. The only question is: do you want to be spiteful to gay people, or let them express their most natural urges peacefully?

In the US and Europe, steadily and remarkably quickly, the civilising voices are winning. There is still a lot to do - gay teenagers are six times more likely to commit suicide than their straight siblings - but the trajectory is ever-upwards. In much of the developing world, gay equality is inching forward too. After extraordinarily brave men and women fought back, India is poised to decriminalize homosexuality this year, and China has just seen its first ever Gay Pride parade.

But there are three great swathes of humanity still untouched by the spirit of Stonewall - and terrified, terrorized gay people there are screaming for help. In the Caribbean, majority-Muslim countries, and most of Africa, being gay is a death sentence - yet many people who should be showing solidarity choose not to see it.

Jamaica is Taliban Afghanistan for gay people. If caught, gays and lesbians face ten years' hard labour - but they are more likely to be lynched. The cases documented by Dr Robert Carr of the University of the West Indies fill whole books. Here's two from a single week. A father found a picture of a naked man in his 16 year old son's rucksack, so he produced it in the playground and called on his classmates to encouraged them to beat him to death - which they promptly did. Nobody was ever charged. In Montego Bay, a man was caught checking out another man - so the crowd lynched him. When the police arrived, they joined in. Hospitals routinely refuse to treat the victims of gay bashings, leaving them to die.

There is a Matthew Sheppard there every day, but people who wouldn't have dreamed of holidaying in Apartheid South Africa flock to Jamaica's beaches. A heroic Jamaican called Brian Williamson set up an organization called J-FLAG to campaign for the rights of gay Jamaicans. His body was found stabbed and slashed over seventy times. The police did nothing. The most popular song in Jamaica in recent years - by Beenie Man - choruses: "I'm dreaming of a new Jamaica, come to execute all the gays... Take dem by surprise/ Get dem in the head."

Throughout Muslim countries, gay people are routinely jailed, tortured and hanged. Mahmoud Ahmadinejadh denies there are any gay people in Iran, but is happy to have them executed in public squares. In post-invasion Iraq, there has been a homo-cidal pogrom of gay people being led by private Islamist "morality squads". In the past two months, over 25 corpses of gay men have been found in one slum, Sadr City, alone, mutilated, with notes saying "pervert" pinned to their chests. Ayatollah Ali-Al Sistani, the country's leading religious cleric, says gays should be killed "in the worst way possible" - and they are obeying. Men are now being killed by having their anuses glued shut.

In Africa, one country has been a beacon for gay rights: post-Apartheid South Africa even gay equality written into its constitution. Yet even it is now headed by a man, Jacob Zuma, who brags about beating up gay men in his youth.

The gay people cowering in these countries are asking for our support - by funding their underground organizations, by putting gay rights on the diplomatic agenda, and by consistently granting asylum to the victims of homophobic persecution. Today, some gay people seeking safety are given the right to remain, while others are told to go back and hide their sexuality.

But too many people avert their gaze from the murderous homophobic persecution happening now - and, even more shockingly, some condemn the people who are trying to stop it. Peter Tatchell, one of the great figures of the fight for gay equality, has for years been organizing practical support for gay Jamaicans, Muslims, and Africans. They have been incredibly grateful - but he has been pilloried by people who pretend to be left-wingers here as "racist" and "imperialist".

How is it "racist" to side with black and Muslim people who are being hunted down and murdered by other black and Muslim people? How is it "imperialist" to peacefully support their struggle, as they are begging us to? Should we say to the successors of Brian Williamson - sorry, but we can't help you today, because the descendants of your torturers and murderers were subject to British imperial rape a century ago?

That would be real racism: to cheer a Stonewall for white people on the streets of New York City, but to ignore it on the streets of Kingston or Cairo or Kinshasa, just because the homophobic cops there happen to be black or Arab.

Homosexuality happens everywhere, so gay people fight for the freedom to be themselves everywhere. The Stonewall riot - and its high-heeled kick - isn't over. In many places, it's only just begun.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Children of the Gays

Awesome article! Totally worth checking out.

The children of gay people are the untapped resource that the gay community needs to get the children's safety argument thrown out. Yes, we can say it doesn't affect them all we want, but we need facts--statistics. I mean, it doesn't hurt children to have same-sex parents, but the counter argument is so much better with fact. Maybe this article is pushing onto that road. I hope so.

Knoxville Pridefest!

Personal blog--Knoxville Pridefest happened yesterday, and here's how it went from my perspective.

This was my first ever Pride festival. I didn't know there was one in Knoxville until this year, but I was so happy that I got to go. I've always wanted to see massive grouping of gay people all in one place, just to feel the atmosphere of it. I could not be like anything I'd ever experienced before. I know it wouldn't compare to a Pride in NYC or LA, where thousands upon thousands come out, but it's still big for lil' ol' me.

I worked all day with my UT organization, the Lambda Student Union. I painted faces for the event as a way to bring people over to our table and get them to see that the Lambda name was out there. We didn't charge for it because I knew that we would get way less customers if we did (especially since another booth was also painting faces--but not nearly as well, if I may say so myself), but I put a tip jar out that cleverly asked for tips for "a poor, gay, college student" instead of an organization, and we ended getting a bunch of tips out of it because people kept saying they wanted to tip the cute boy for his services. Hehe, it was so much fun.

Several positives came out of painting faces, all of which I expected and was very pleased about. Foremostly, I got to experiment with my artistic ability. I've painted faces before, but never a bunch of rainbows, and let me tell you it was difficult. I cant do an outline on someone's face, so I have to envision the work of art while painting it multicolored. Some symbols, like the double gender signs for men and women, were quite to figure out at first, but I managed to even make them a little artsy in the way I did the colors. Success!

Secondly, painting faces, since I get so obscenely close to people whilst painting them, gives me a chance to do a bit of socialilizing with people. I get to talk to the many gays of Knoxville, both young and old, and it's really exciting to get to see some of the different perspectives and how they live their lives in the same city I do. There are some intersting characters here, needless to say. One particular group of high schoolers (all gay and cool with it, btws) made sure that I painted all of their faces multiple times, even their arms. They were all so chatty and fun though, I didn't mind at all. They all developed this hilarious idea of getting the pot leaf painted in rainbow on their bodies, and that trend quickly picked up, even outside their little group. I daresay I painted more rainbow pot leaves than hearts yesterday.

Kind of relating to the last point, getting all up on people to paint them let me get extra close to some cute guys. Not that I'm looking at all (I'm madly in love with Danny and would never consider leaving him), getting to see pretty boys isn't a sin, and they have brains too for good conversation, just like everyone else.

I didn't get to do much else that day because I was literally painting faces the entire time. I had to even get a friend to go with my debit card and buy dinner for me; I couldn't take a dinner break because people kept wanting their faces painted. Not that I was mad at all about this; it makes me so happy to see people glance at someone's rainbow design on their face and want for themselves. Like my work is actually good or something. That put a smile on my face. And it make the time go faster, which is a much needed positive since I was out there the greater part of the day.

Overall, I really enjoyed Pride and think it was a great success. There was a lot going on, with all the different and exotic booths, people out there to support it from the organizations (even gay-friendly churches came out!), and there were so so so many people (I heard it was the biggest turn out ever). I can't wait til next year, when we do it so much bigger and better!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Gay US Congressman Reintroduces Anti-Discrimination Bill

I hope this goes through. It would be a major step in gay rights!!!!!! Yay for progressives!

Pink News Article

Keeping Jerusalem in My Thoughts

As I'm typing this, I'm sure the events of Pride in Jerusalem are going on right now (because of the time difference). I certainly hope everything is going well for them, as the event has been stricken with violence in the past. My boyfriend is also in Israel today, so if he's there, I REALLY REALLY hope everything goes well today.

Ugh, I'm going to worry myself to death.

Pink News Article

I Just Had To

My roommate, who is from Chattanooga, TN, showed me this letter to the editor from her local newspaper, and I just had to show it off. We all know I love making fun of ignorant, bigoted Christians, but this guy takes care of my job all by himself.

Same-sex marriage not what God meant

I say this because of same-sex marriage, and I think this is going to be the cause of the destruction of the world because God did not put up with it in the old Bible days nor is He going to put up with it now. I don’t understand what a man sees in another man or the same for two women. God meant for a man and woman to marry. He did not put Adam and Steve on Earth; He put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and that is the way He meant for it to stay.

How can two of the same sex have children? They can’t, and there should not be any children in a same-sex home. God does not approve of same-sex marriage. That is why He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.

I think all of these gay couples marrying the same sex is going to escalate the second coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He said the next time he would destroy the Earth by fire, and between China and Iran all you gay people had better start living right or face the consequences.


Red Bank

Original Article

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I Think I'm Gonna Do It

I'm coming out!

Well, I'm coming out to the two scariest people that I could ever possible come out to: my parents.

They are the only two people I have yet to officially tell, and I'm going to be doing it quite soon, actually. Lately, I haven't been so sure if I should tell them anytime soon; in fact many people I know have given me the advice that waiting would be much better for parents' sake. Wait until you're stable, and then tell them--like after college or something.

But I had a major change of heart today. I'm tired of my parents not knowing anything about a major part of my life. Yes, being gay is not the only thing that makes me who I am, but in today's society it's still pretty important. So I'm going to tell them.

First, I plan to break the news to my mom. I know, in the end, she'll be ok with it, so I want to tell her first in case my dad blows his stack (he probably won't, but he's more likely to than my mom, so I want her support). I've kind of developed a plan of attack too:

I am definitely going to wait until my dad leaves town for a few days next week to fly for work. That way my mom has some time to process it on her own and be completely own to any impressing I can put upon her to make it seem more okay for her. As for the actual speech, I'll probably make this list of points, elaborating on each:

1)I'm gay
2)I'm being careful with it in college (publically, socially, and sexually--I may not mention the last one in the first discussion about my homosexuality--she probably doesn't want to think about that right away--maybe in another conversation)
3)It can still be ok with God--this one is tricky. I'm not religious, but my mom definitely doesn't want to her that (I can guarantee that's worse than being gay). But she'll be conflicted with it if I don't say anything, so I'm going to argue (in a non-argumentative way) that the only verses in the Bible addressing homosexual sex are not only surrounded in their passages by many other unrealistic abominations, but nowhere in the Bible does God (or Jesus-which is significant) say that gay marriage is wrong. Arguably, homosexual love is just as okay as straight love because sex between a man and a woman is just as much a sin as gay sex when it's before a marriage is established. Hence, if I ever get married, it might not be a bad thing in God's eyes. That's probably as far as I'll dive into it with that. I don't want to push her away so soon.
4)This in NO way makes you a bad mother. This is a big one i need to make sure to talk about. I know she's going to think this is her fault, and I've thought of all of these sweet and wonderful things to say to make her feel better about her role as my mother.
5)I'm still me. I'm still the boy she loves and has grown up with her for the passed 20 years. Nothing has changed.

I think if I address all of these things appropriately, the conversation will go over very well. Ill plan to stay the night because I definitely should not leave her alone to her thoughts and devices for too long for at least a day. I'll probably also bring a good DVD for us to watch toghether, like Saved. That's a good movie for this situation, I think.

Monday, June 22, 2009

O, the Economic Possibilities

A great possible advantage to same-sex marriage is, especially in the short-term, all of the spending that will be put into same-sex marriages when they're legal. The number of gay couples flocking to the churches, convention centers, scenic spots, and places-people-love-to-be-married in general would be astronomical, and the spending would be out of this world.

Some people just don't realize the potential. It's happening in Iowa though; take a look.

CNN Article

Friday, June 19, 2009

Gay Couples in the Census

The White House is supposedly making plans to include gay couples in the 2011 U.S. Census. While this isn't a big step, Obama has been making a bunch of very tiny steps lately, so this is no surprise. It's still a positive though. So props.

WallStreet Article

Where is My Martin Luther Queen?

This article is great. A must-read.

By Max Mutchnick

It was Gay Pride this past weekend in Los Angeles. Traffic was terrible. My husband and I sat in gridlock on Sunset Boulevard. We were bringing our daughters to music class just like we do every Sunday. It's a class designed to teach the girls how to appreciate musical sounds, play crude instruments and sing simple songs with other little people. When I say little people I don't want you to get the impression that they're taking a music class with Peter Dinklage and Linda Hunt. I mean, little people in the old-fashioned way... you know, babies. Can you imagine, they're nine months old and we take them to a music class. They still think my eyeball is a toy. So music class is really a place where you watch your kids shove plastic clackers in their mouths, lick the carpet and shit in their diaper if the songs with drum beats have to much bass in them. It's more of a mucus class than anything -- but we go because that's what you do, right?

Stuck in our car, with our sweet babies sleeping, we watched hundreds of gay men migrate towards the hub of the Pride parade. It's at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and San Vincente in West Hollywood. I was surprised by how few lesbians we saw, but I think they arrive earlier so they can deal with parking and possible crowd issues.

From the car, I noticed gay men are working a new look this season. It's the Adam Lambert. Some really go for it with the blue hair tint and the black nail polish. But overall, most gays stick to the look that has always served them well. You know it:

--Be young (even if you're not).

--Be a size 2.

--Messy hair (that takes an hour to do).

--An over-washed thermal shirt that shows belly skin when you wave.

--Incorporate leather string somewhere:
a. around the neck with a bead
b. wrapped a dozen times around the wrist
c. a simple anklet...also with a bead
d. all of the above

-- Work a good butt in good jeans you stole from your sister.

This look is called the Kris Allen.

Anyhoo, when we were planning our weekend, I thought it might be a cool idea to take the kids to Gay Pride after music class. I could just see us putting them in Baby Bjorns and walking amongst our people and really being a part of it. But as I sat in my car, watching from the periphery, I started to worry. Were these my people? I used to get comforting goose bumps at Gay Pride parades. I am a part of something. These sexual outlaws and gender pioneers are my brothers and sisters and we are part of a community. But for the first time, I felt like an outsider.

Dykes on bikes, Tarzana Trannies, Jewish Leather Daddies and Kathy Griffin's mom. Don't get me wrong. I love these people. Let's call them the "Usual Suspects." They fought for my rights and taught me how to dance. But they should no longer be representing "the pride." It's a different time. For god's sake, Larry Craig is a life-long homosexual. What I'm trying to say is that "unremarkable" mainstream people are gay, too. So I cringe when a local newsperson shoves a microphone in the face of some young 95-pound twink (Straight Translation: a twink is a skinny homosexual with a lot of moxie). The twink looks into the camera and screams into the reporter's microphone: "Get down here now. The drinks are big. But you know what's bigger..." He laughs in a high-pitched cackle and his "girlfriends" join in. I wish they'd read more and drink less.

I'm depressed. Why is this the voice speaking for me?

I know there were many types of interesting, smart people on the parade route showing their support. But guess what, guys and gals? None of you have a loud enough, strong enough or powerful enough voice to be heard over the thumping techno backbeat of the big gay parade. This is a huge problem. Sad, but true. The mainstream media still has no better choice but to showcase the extremes of gay life. I mean, imagine if we used the Mardi Gras as the singular way we'd depict straight folk. The public would be lead to believe that all men wear jock straps on their heads and all women like to do is show us their tits.

So you understand my pain when I see one of the "usual suspects" on the news?
Is he supposed to be my leader?
He's not my leader!
Where is my leader?!
Why doesn't the gay world have a leader?
Where is my Jesse Jackson?
Where is my Martin Luther King?
Where is my Barack Obama?
Wait! Him! Why not him? Why isn't this modern man speaking up for me and protecting my civil rights?

Something is very wrong here. I guess it would be nice to have a leader for the gay movement. But he or she has not presented him or herself. So why not kill two birds with one stone? Let's hire Barack Obama. I want Barack to be my leader, just like he is for all Americans. Maybe I don't need a separate leader. Maybe I don't need a separate anything anymore. I know I don't want a gay flag. I only cover my heart with my hand when I stand beneath the stars and stripes of the American flag. Because that's what I am before anything else. Rainbows don't cut it for me anymore. And they certainly haven't protected me. I have no desire to wrap myself in that rainbow. So why isn't Barack standing up and waving the American flag for me?

It should be him.

He said he would do it. But this is all we got:

Last night President Obama issued a memorandum to extend limited benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. A memorandum? A memo? That doesn't sound very equal rights-ish.

TO: The Gays

FROM: The President of the United States
RE: If you're going to use the fridge, label your food.

That's what I think a memo is. President Obama's memo was almost as worthy. He's giving same-sex benefits to federal employees with major omissions. It's crumbs, people. It's nothing. It's basically a reaction to some noise. He thinks he's throwing us a bone. He could and should have done this on his first day in office. Why isn't he talking about big picture issues? Why isn't he making or preparing the country for sweeping change? The wise gay elders tell me that I should respect this baby step. It is, after all, his first "gay experience" in office. But I say, "no." I want more from MY leader. He's making news because he's giving his gay employees almost the same benefits as he gives his straight employees. Why are we celebrating this?!

Before 1967, his parents would have been arrested for their marriage. Why aren't we being more demanding of this president? And why isn't he more understanding of our position? It's time for us to lose our patience. He should have a deeper understanding of this inequality -- at the very least, deep down in his heart I want to believe he does. He says, for religious reasons, he believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman. I call bullshit, Mr. President. I don't believe that's your personal view. You're being a politician when you say that. You're too intelligent for that. You were a constitutional law professor. Even I know the 14th Amendment means that separate but equal is not equal.

Hey, wait a minute. I just realized something.

It's your job is to be my leader, Barack! When I voted for you, I believed in the integrity of your words as a leader for all citizens, not just most. So back it up with action. It's time you stood out there in front of the Washington Monument and made a speech on my behalf. It's time. It would start something like this:

"I have a dream. I have a dream for some queens..."

This would really give my little daughters something to sing about in music class, Mr. President.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ricky Martin is Slowly Coming Out

Newest update on the closeted Ricky Martin (who i wouldn't mind if were gay, actually--he's a hottie) is that he's open for boys or girls. I wish he'd just come out though; he'd be a good advocate, I think. I haven't heard anything bad about him lately.

Advocate article

Christianity is Not the Only Goodness Left

I don't understand why the Christian way of life is the only one with good values anymore? I can't tell you how many times I have heard people say that it's important for everyone to remember what "values" our country was founded on and to follow in those religious views today.

Since when did you have to be Christian to be a good person? Granted, I was raised Christian, but I certainly learned everything I know from my parents, not my church. It was more along the lines of my mom taught me right from wrong and how to behave, and then I practiced it when I went to church. She taught me please and thank you, and other mothers from church would then complement me on my good manners.

I also learned quite a bit from TV and the media. Some children's shows are actually very educational. I learned to what's nice and what's mean and how you feel about someone isn't necessarily something you should tell them.

Of course these values are valid in the Christian religion, but that's not the only place they're available. Many negative ideas are also expressed within Christianity, such as the oppression of homosexual love.

The way I feel about the love of my life is not wrong; it's more than right and wonderful than anything that I know. And if we ever have children together, I am going to raise them as far from religion as possible, but I have no doubt in my mind that they won't be any less kind and loving than either me or my lover.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Silly Church Sign

You know those church marquees with the silly and ignorant phrases that you see on the internet all of the time?

I've always wanted to see one in person, but I've never had the opportunity until today. I'm kinda surprised I haven't seen more of them since i live in the South, but whatevs. The one i saw today wasn't that horrible, but I got a good "Seriously?" chuckle out of it.

Here ya go, straight from my very own camera.

Another Step Forward for the Gays

A lawsuit was settled, or at least got a resolution out of it, to give same-sex partners the right to change their names on legal U.S. documents (such as passports) if the state/jurisdiction in which the change was happening legally recognized the marriage. That's pretty awesome cuz now you can travel and say that, at least where you come from, you and your hubby are legally bound!

Advocate article

Finally Somebody Said It!

It really is all about money, isn't it?

A big/albeit funny argument for gay marriage has always been how much of a moneymaker it'd be for this low economy. I mean, really, there are tons of things that gay people would spend oodles of money on just to get married--receptions, preachers, lawyers, festivities, outrageous honeymoons, etc. (just like any other couple)--not even counting all of the stuff from after the marriage has happened.

Pinknews article

Awesome Article About Gay Animals

I'd be really interested to read the actual article that this is taken, just to see what all they said about homosexual tendencies in animals.

On the surface, though, this looks like a great way to throw that whole "It's not natural" argument back in bigoted people's faces. Besides the fact that nothing else about the human world today is "natural," how much more natural can you get than over 450 species of animals doing gay things?

Pinknews article

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I Was Published in the Knoxville News Sentinel!

I wrote a Letter to the Editor to my local newspaper, and here's what got published. I cant wait for the backlash!

America is moving forward into the future. It is time for Tennessee to catch on to the trend and become more progressive.

In just the past few months, six states have legalized gay marriage — Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire — with even more states on their way to legalizing it also.

Briefly, California allowed gay marriage until crafty conservatives maneuvered their way through the voting systems to abolish it.

Tennessee should not sit by and watch this movement pass us by. We should be leading down here in the South, especially if nobody else will.

California had the right idea before the popularity of the November elections allowed right-wing sneaks to toss in Proposition 8. Tennessee should follow in its footsteps.

Throughout American history, the North has led the way for human rights. All the way back to the Civil War, it was the North fighting for the freedom of slaves, and today history is repeating itself. The North is establishing itself as the progressive part of America by becoming more accepting faster than we are.

Currently, the U.S. government has decided that each individual state should legalize gay marriage. Even though this fundamentally goes against every other historical human-rights movement, in which the government settled the battles for the better, this is Tennessee’s chance to show our neighbors right from wrong.

Push for the legalization of a basic human right so many people already enjoy and allow gay marriage in Tennessee. All men are created equal and deserve the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Mitch Harp


Awesome HRC Speech

I love this speech. So totally worth the length of the video.

Huffington Post Article

Monday, June 15, 2009

Obama and the Gays: Where's the Leadership

Article by Leah McElrath Renna

In the wake of the tragic murders of reproductive rights activist, Dr. George Tiller, and the Holocaust Museum security guard, Steven Johns, I know I was not alone among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans in thinking to myself, "Next it will be one of us." The time for outspoken leadership by President Obama on behalf of all of the targets of right-wing hate -- including LGBT Americans -- is here.

For some time now, many non-straight people have apparently been so relieved not to be in the bull's eye of the White House's political target practice that we have allowed ourselves to be blinded by Obama's cool. We have taken the risk of giving Obama a pass because we have chosen to believe that his personal views are not actually in alignment with his public declarations. We have allowed this belief to make us complacent.

Well, I am over the cool. The cool and the relief of not being under constant attack bought my complacency for only so long. Now, I am ready and waiting for actual leadership on the civil rights of LGBT Americans.

The fact is that we actually do not know what Obama's personal views are on marriage equality for same-sex couples. And that shouldn't really matter. Because we do know he was on record at one point as supporting marriage equality and then that changed. We also know that he now espouses the tired rationalization that so many Democrats rely upon: "Aw, gee, I'm all for equal rights, but my religion doesn't let me get behind the calling it 'marriage' thing for you all. Sorry."

But, for some reason, we allow -- without open challenge -- this Constitutional legal expert to use his personal religious beliefs as an excuse to espouse support for a separate but equal policy and not to speak out for civil equality for all Americans? Really?!

Are we that desperate?

Let's say, just hypothetically, that a meeting took place between certain administration officials and certain leaders of prominent LGBT rights organizations. And let's say, again hypothetically, that the administration laid out its plan for dealing with hate-crimes legislation, employment discrimination, and military discrimination in a characteristically controlled and pragmatic way. Further, let's say -- still talking hypothetically here -- that, within that plan, the repeal of the travesty of the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) was scheduled to be addressed during the administration's presumptive second term. Let's also theorize hypothetically that some LGBT leaders were apparently so happy to be let behind the curtain that they simply nodded in response. Not acceptable.

Note to President Obama, his advisors and LGBT Grand Poobahs everywhere: that's NOT leadership. It's political strategy, sure, but it's not presidential leadership. And it's not enough.

We have a president capable of giving the most nuanced speech on race issues that our nation has heard in our lifetimes and maybe ever. We have a president capable of speaking out on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in some of the most clear-sighted, fair-minded and fully balanced language ever delivered by an American leader. We have a president who is not only intelligent, a Constitutional scholar and a gifted orator -- but one who has demonstrated the capacity for courage and unifying leadership at time when such leadership is sorely needed and lacking.

What better time is there than the 40th anniversary of Stonewall during a period in American history when state after state is also deciding in favor of marriage equality for same-sex couples for the president to speak out on behalf of full civil equality for LGBT Americans? Strategy and pragmatism are useless without the flexibility to seize a moment.

In the spirit of pragmatism and domestic realpolitik, I'll even make a suggestion to President Obama and his advisors: you simply need to make progress.

If President Obama were to come out and say that the movement of more states in recognizing same-sex marriage equality highlights the unfairness of DOMA and the need to have it repealed or overturned, that would be progress. If President Obama were to come out and say that his own prayerful thought has led him to begin to reconsider his stance on marriage equality, that would be progress. If President Obama were to come out and say that the language in his own Justice Department's response to a legal challenge to DOMA was unnecessary, wrong and dehumanizing (invoking incest and child abuse, no less), that would be progress. It would be, in his words, change.

Should President Obama come out with unequivocal verbal support -- and even actual action -- on behalf of marriage equality and many other LGBT civil rights concerns? Yes. That would be truly courageous leadership and would be far superior to the carefully parsed language (and countless "umms" in the midst of other notable eloquence) to which we are currently subjected on our issues.

Nevertheless, incremental progress from such a highly visible and respected source has an impact beyond the incrementalism of the change itself. So, I'll take even that as a start.

President Obama, speak out and act now on behalf of the humanity and full civil equality of LGBT Americans. Be the leader you are capable of being. The moment is yours to seize.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sad Day for Little News

Is it just me, or has there not been a lot of HUGE news the passed few days? Maybe I'm just behind in the times. I sure hope it picks up soon though; although I guess no news might eventually be a good thing.

Perhaps in our current situation, no news means nothing's getting done. But someday I bet it'll be a great thing. When gay marriage is legal and we all have the same civil rights, no news would be great because that would mean nothing was changing, and at that point I don't we would want anything to change.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

You Know You're Awesome When...

...You come OUT to America on the cover of Rolling Stone.

That's exactly what American Idol runner-up is doing. In the most recent issue of Rolling Stone, Adam Lambert is officially coming out. People have known ever since during the AI season when the media had a field day with photos of Adam in drag and kissing boys all over the place. He says he was out backstage, but kept it private while in public because he didn't want it affecting people's views of him. It was a professional setting, not social.

I personally am very happy he's gay. He's for sure a rising star and will do nothing but bring good ideas and support for the gay population from the rest of America with his awesome talent and influence.

ABC news

I Wish I Could Go!

Gay rights activists, including Cleve Jones, famous activist for his work with the AIDS quilt and friendship with Harvey Milk, are calling for a massive gay march on Washington during National Coming Out Day in October. They claim that because of the recent events with Prop 8 being upheld and the removal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," not even being considered, these have empowered the gay equality movement enough to get some real steam going.

I certainly hope that it works out well.

Pinknews Article

Sorry For Being Neglectful Again

I wanted to take a sec for apologizing for not posting in a while. I've got some new stuff to put on here, and I'll get to that in just a minute. But first, here's why I've been absent.

There were two major factors in my absence: summer classes started up, and my wonderful boyfriend went away for a month.

Over the summer, I'm taking two classes at a local community college to catch up for some failures in passed years. They started up almost 2 weeks ago, and I was kind of blindsided. I've never taken summer classes before, so the sudden slam of classwork and homework from just two classes overwhelmed me. But I'm better now.

Most definitely the bigger problem I've had is my boyfriend leaving for the month of June. He has gone to study abroad in Cyprus for four weeks, and for a while it pretty much killed me. Danny and I have been together 9 months, and we've spent most of that time attached at the hip. Not that I don't like this; I love him more than anything in the world and am so grateful that I've had this time with him--I also have no intention (and neither does he) of ending what we have anytime in the foreseeable future. The problem is that I went from Danny 24/7 to Danny not at all. It caused me a lot pain, stress, and worry.

It's taken a week, but I'm finally recovered from it. It's gotten better progressively over the week, but I think I've reached a plateau. I still worry about him constantly (his safety, mostly) and am constantly jealous of all the people he's having so much fun with, but I keep in daily communication with him and we tell each other that we love and miss each other terribly. I'm counting the days til his return, and each day seems longer than the last.