Monthly Archives: October 2010

What does November 2nd mean for LGBTQA people

On tuesday, the political landscape is going to change in this country, even if the Democrats pull off a narrow win, their historic position in both houses will have been lost.

Despite in theory being friends with the LGBTQA community, under the 2008 congress, the following things have happened.

  • DADT was kept in place and defended by the administration. No serious effort was made to actually repeal the law, or take the republicans to task for their hypocrisy including John “I’ll support a repeal when it suits me, i.e. never” McCain.
  • DOMA was left in place, and actually defended by the administration again. Despite promises to work on a repeal, nothing was done.
  • Transgender surgeries were purposefully excluded from coverage supplied by the healthcare bill.
  • ENDA has still not been passed.

My hate-the-gays apologist correspondant, said I shouldn’t support the democrats because they haven’t done enough, and yes as friends of the LGBTQA community, they are a barely even qualified to consider themselves on the pro LGBTQA side of the spectrum.

However on the other side, we have the openly homophobic Tea Party candidates, including Joe Miller, Sharon Angle, Carl Paladino, and Rand Paul.

You have the solid republican base which when they were in power elected 2 of the most socially conservative justices to the supreme court, and if they had the votes would have passed a federal marriage amendment.
Under the republican rule, DADT and DOMA were actively supported and the idea of repeal of either would have been impossible. Also the president, was proud of the fact that he would veto the ENDA bill if it reached his desk. How compassionate, how presidential, how bigoted, how ignorant. As far as I can tell, from most of the predictions it seems like the republicans will reduce the democratic majority in the senate to 1 or 2 seats, and sweep the house.

I despise the democrats, and would love to see the day they close up shop, but they are the least worst option of the two parties.

So yes I’m terrified about tuesday, because what little gains have been made will be all we’ll see until the next congress. The whole republican caucus has shown their LGBTQA-phobic colors with the DADT repeal, now they’ll get the chance to display their bigotry in power.

Quick Update – Arkansas School Board Vice President Resigns

Clint McCance, the school board Vice President who proceded to tell his facebook friends, that he was happy when “AIDS kills fags” and “the only way i’m gonna wear a purple shirt is to celebrate all the gays dying” has now resigned from his position.

However he has made only a lip service apology, and only resigned to spare the school board from the the drama he caused. He remained hopeful that in a few years he’d be able to run successfully again for the school board.

The school board claimed they were unable to fire him, but if similar things had been said in a racist rather than a homophobic sense, he’d have been off the board by the end of the day…

A Good News Story – Some Justice for Constance

I’m sure everyone reading this article knows who Constance McMillian is, and what a hero she is to everyone in the LGBTQA community, but just in case, this is how her year has gone.

As a young lesbian woman in Mississippi, a student at the Itawamba Agricultural High School, wanted to take her girlfriend with her to Prom, after all, that’s the tradition, your high school sweetheart, is the one you take to prom. But she had the audacity to do it in a state that is famed for its continuing push for(or is that against) tolerance and understanding of different people and relationships.

The school took issue that she wanted to bring her girlfriend with her. If she and her girlfriend wanted to attend, they could not arrive together as a couple. The only way for it to work would be in the pre-out of the closet days of her and her girlfriend having to pretend to go to the prom with respective members of a gay couple also wanting entrance.

For those of you who don’t know our history, effectively lesbian and gay couples often had to live together in order to present the lie of two straight couples to avoid detection, from the law, and society in general. As someone who wanted to wear formal wear, Constance chose to accompany her girlfriend wearing a tuxedo, which was another issue for the school administrators, since a girl wearing pants is obviously a witch. It was an issue of insisting that people conform to clothing stereotypes and do not venture outside that comfortable
close minded space. Its one thing to specify formal wear, but to state that a type of formal wear should only be worn by one gender, is so pre-1970s… yes it may break your fragile mind that a girl looks beautiful in a tux, but its not your call to make school administrators.

Secondly, because of what she felt comfortable wearing, Constance had the gall to wish to wear a tuxedo, which was so confusing to the school administrators who insisted on conforming to gender clothing stereotypes that if she were to attend she should wear a dress.

Rather than rolling over as I’m sure many have done in the deep south, to conform, to accept the status quo, Constance stood up for herself, took her school to court, and won.

In a response worthy of “I’m loosing so I’m taking my ball home” refusal to accept equality, the School cancelled the prom, after promising the judge that Constance and her girlfriend would be able to attend. Then in a truly vicious action, set up a new prom, and conspired to send Constance and her girlfriend along with a few other “different” students to a fake school sanctioned prom, staffed by teachers and chaperones, while the entire remaining class attended the real prom elsewhere.

Behavior like this is indicative of the problems LGBTQA youth face every day, in school, at home, in everyday life, in times of celebration, and in sorrow. However some justice has prevailed, the school has not only had to pay out for damages to Constance, but they
now have been forced to pay for Constance’s legal efforts as well.

Maybe its an imperfect world but if you want to discriminate against LGBTQA youth, there’s a price tag. Hopefully the next school that wants to discriminate will look to the next line.

Denying a girl her prom, cost $116,000
Doing the right thing, priceless.
Thank you Constance for all your bravery, your determination, and your example to us all.

School Board Member – Fags Should Die of AIDS

You’d think such homophobia would be enough, to say that you are happy by the thought that LGBTQA youth would catch AIDS and die.

His first public comment to students and the district on facebook was
“you don’t like being called a fag, don’t tell anyone you’re a fag”

His comments were inspired by spirit day.
“Seriously, they want me to wear purple because five queers committed suicide. The only way im wearing it for them is if they all commit suicide. I can’t believe people of this world have gotten this stupid. We are honoring the fact that they sinned and killed themselves because of their sin. REALLY PEOPLE.”

His attitude on homophobia extends even to his own children.
“I would disown my kids if they were gay. They will not be welcome at my home or in my vicinity. I will absolutely run them off. Of course my kids will know better. My kids will have solid christian beliefs. See it infects everyone.”

Here is his claim of an apology and offer to resign.

However this hateful bigot, makes it very clear is that if he’s said “I would prefer of gay people were to pass away from AIDS” that would be okay. He never apologizes for the thoughts behind the words, only claiming that his word choices were poor.

I’m sure he’s far from the only schoolboard member with such hateful attitudes, but at least he’s resigned. However he does plan on trying for re-election once the storm has died down.

This doesn’t just speak to his actions, or his schoolboard, or even the entire Arkansas school system. LGBTQA youth in school are vulnerable, and to have someone in authority say this, makes all of them feel much less safe. Is every youth who reads this thinking, do I have one of those school board members in my district, how will that affect me if something happens to me.

The school board claims to be unable to fire him, but they should have made a clear exception and fired him with a fanfare and made it clear that he was never welcome there again.

Found via Pride in Utah”

Family Research Council – LGBTQA commit suicide because they are sick!

For those of you who don’t know, the Family Research Council, is a group dedicated to stopping civil rights being extended to LGBTQA people.
Their core value is that being LGBTQAism is a disease, and that LGBTQA people at their core know they are sick.
Recently commenting on the growing numbers of LGBTQA youth who have taken their lives, he said that “There’s no correlation between inacceptance of homosexuality and depression and suicide,” despite all the evidence of that hatred being responsible for driving vulnerable LGBTQA youth to taking suicide as a way to escape the bigotry and misery.
As if he couldn’t keep his hatred any more cloaked, he then went on to claim this “These young people who identify as gay or lesbian, we know from the social science that they have a higher propensity to depression or suicide because of that internal conflict,” I.E. we commit suicide because we know we are sick and the natural reaction is to kill ourselves, or to paraphrase “You are sick fags, why don’t you just die”.
I’m not expecting the Family Research Council president to come out and admit that his actions are responsible for promoting the hatred and bigotry that infests the USA, but I’d hope he’d have the decency to shut up out of respect for those he has helped kill.
found via Pride in Utah news sourced from NPR

Secret Enemies of LGBTQA rights and acceptance

I’ve felt for so long that so many companies and groups out there, claim to be friends and supporters of the LGBTQA population, but actually work against us.

So I’m going to start naming and shaming them. These are not going to be obvious ones like the Democratic Party, Target and Health Insurers, or outwardly homophobic hate groups like the Tea Party, Family Research Council, and the Mormon Church.

The people and groups are as dangerous and insidious to the survival of LGBTQA youth as another Republican administration.

Obama and the White House issue an It Gets Better video

US President, Barack Obama, has contributed a video to the “it gets better” project.

This website began with a sentiment… that sentiment was that a project such as It Gets Better is a beginning, but that in it’s own right, it is not enough simply to appear in a video talking about your perspective on things and simply telling people “it gets better” – there needs to be action too. There needs to be people working hard to make it better, and there need to be an awareness that that work needs to be done.

President Obama has spoken out succinctly, eloquently and unexpectedly on this issue. That the President himself has spoken out against homophobic bullying and in support of young gay people is a fairly big thing – but it was also the least that he could do, and that same sentiment with which this website began applies to him equally. While he speaks in support on the one hand, his government has continued to ignore the issue and discriminate on the other against his word that he would make things better! Well, the President has seen now, and by his own admission has been shocked and upset by recent events in his country. He is a man with tremendous power and influence, and has openly stated that this kind of homophobic bullying stands against core American values… this video is, literally, the very least he could do short of doing nothing at all.

It Gets Better, but it’s not enough – it’s a start…  and with the greatest of respect Mr. President, there can now be no excuse for inaction on your part. It Gets Better because people make it better – just as you said you would, and just as your moral conscience should now be telling you to do!

Saline Board of Education Okays Bullying of LGBTQA students

Saline Public School Board last week decided that amending the bullying policy to include LGBTQA students was “Unnecessary”.

This isn’t hyperbole or exaggeration. Yes there is an existing bullying policy, and the school board acknowledges the problem in society and school environments.

But how do they react, they choose to deliver a message that they do not care about the LGBTQA students in their schools. This has two obvious effects, firstly it gives a green light to the bullies that LGBTQA students are fair game, and secondly that those victims of the discrimination have no support from the school authorities.

I wish this was against some kind of federal anti-discrimination law, but the Department of Education fails to deal with this as well.

Saline may be up in the North, in supposedly liberal progressive Michigan, but no where is safe from bullying. I was raised in a progressive fairly liberal area of West Sussex in the UK, but I was terrified by the idea of being thought of as queer because of the attitudes portrayed by both the other students, and the complete absence of any support network made available by teachers.

This school board knew that there was a growing number of queer suicides going on across the country and the world, and they just ignored it. As of today its seventeen, thats the number we know about in the past month in the USA, young vulnerable people who are 4-8 times more likely to commit suicide, and make up ⅓ of all successful suicides, being told that we don’t care about you.

We need to tell every child in every school that its not okay to be treated like crap for being who they are. Its also not only about the victims, but the bullies, I want them to know that their behavior is unacceptable. I want to hear this from San Francisco, to Salt Lake City in the heart of every conservative religious and progressive liberal community. Its time to remove these bigoted uncaring school board members and insist that the Departments of Education in every state step up to the plate and help their students.

Sourced from NPR

It’s Better than OK To Be Queer

I’m a geek. I make no apologies for it, and I’m quite proud of it… I’m a geek! When I grew up in the 80′s, I used to get a lot of flak for my interest in science, technology, and how things worked. Heck, I was learning to program in BASIC (an old language – you may have heard of it!) when I was 5 years old. The thing is, through my childhood and teenage years, being a geek was actually a fairly unpopular thing to be… but a geeks was who I was… and its still who I am. There’s far more to me than just this one thing of course, but it was something that people picked up on and made fun of… and I’m still proud of my geekery. It’s part of what makes me, me! A number of the people I know are geeks or have a geeky side to them somehow, and they’re some of the most fun and most brilliant people I know. You see, I don’t identify my geekery by the fact that most people aren’t geeks and thus making me abnormal or part of a minority. My geekery is identified with a geek culture in its own right – a positive celebration and attitude toward all things geeky… a pleasure in geekdom in general!

In all the talk of LGBT, and indeed LGBTQQIA issues in the last decade or three, much has been made of the concept of ‘internalised homophobia’, where people identifying with one of the letters in this acronym find great difficulty in accepting themselves, having internalised the prejudices and phobias of the society around them. It’s as if a part of the queer identity should be defined by being abnormal somehow. As if it’s about being wrong in some way. Well, it’s not. Few people in history have committed suicide simply because they were gay, and it’s really only since around the 1940′s when society began to take an especially hard line against gay people that this fact really changed. In fact, when homosexuality began to be pathologised all those years ago – nearly a century ago now – and when the psychiatrists asked their ‘patients’ how they felt about their orientation, people often reported being perfectly happy with it and only inclined to make any effort to change anything owing to the pressures of society. They often reported that their orientation was quite natural. Some even went as far as to say that ‘they stand on a higherlevel than those normally sexed, that they are the specially favored of the muses of poetry and the arts’! The artistic queer, the intellectual queer…; Queer people had their own queer positive attitudes about their culture and existence! … in much the same way that I, a geek (not to mention a lesbian trans woman queer), also have such geek positive attitudes.

That culture still exists. Those attitudes can still exist. Being queer doesn’t have to be about somehow being abnormal or wrong, and nobody has to accept the view of anybody telling them that they are. It’s the homophobes of this world that are wrong. Being queer is damned awesome! Being different, being special, being yourself rather than like the sheep of this world, whatever being yourself entails, is a truly awesome and valuable thing to be… and to be celebrated. Some of the best people I have known have been queer in much the same way as some of the best people I have known have been geeks.

Being queer is not just something to be OK with – it’s something to be happy about… to celebrate… to enjoy. And you’re not alone! There are queer people everywhere. If you are young and LGBT(QQIA) there’s the Queer Youth Network in the UK. The US has too many regional/state organisations to list (though the UK’s QYN is happy to see international members in its community too).

Being queer is no bad thing, no matter what they may tell you. It’s not something to be ashamed of, and you can only be humiliated by it if you feel its something to be ashamed about. Yes, it can be hard, but it passes… and even as it passes there are people working to try to make things right… and frankly, being queer – being yourself – is awesome!