A brave and noble young girl stands up

I found this on Pride in Utah a few days ago, and while i didn’t post it immediately, i felt it was so important to show.

This is a story of both joy and pain, the desire to be “normal” was drummed into this girl, by society and so she tried to “Be Straight”. However having realized that you can’t pray the gay away, and recognized there was nothing wrong with loving women. Most young LGBTQA youth feel that they have the right to come out, but should stay under the radar.

Kayla chose to stand up and tell her school who she was. She is an inspiration to us all, and hopefully those coming after her will see her example and feel more able to come out led by her example and the examples of others like her.

Thank you Kayla for your bravery and courage.

Censoring Elton’s Family…

US Weekly, while not my usual magazine of choice, showed a picture that made most people go “Awwwww”, but a few people to scream “The Horror!, Won’t someone please think of the children”. In response a supermarket in Arkansas decided to put a “Family Shield, to protect younger shoppers” in front of the magazine as it does for porn mags. So what could be so shocking, was it some emaciated child from a conflict in The Congo, or perhaps some controversial piece of artwork that perhaps you wouldn’t want your children to see without context. No not even a picture of Santa’s Grotto out of season, what the photo showed, was a family.

An Arkansas grocery store used shields to protect its customer from an US magazine cover featuring Elton John, his partner, and their new adopted son
courtesy Jennifer Huddleston

A family you say, what’s so controversial about that, its not like the Citizens Councils are going to complain about an interracial family, or the idea of a celebrity adopting from Africa. Sadly no, this was a different and equally unpleasant kind of prejudice to the Citizens Council, you see this was of a celebrity couple, and their newborn son, the trouble for these new bigots, it was Elton John and his husband David Furnish. Can’t you see their point, if little Suzy has been taught that gay people are depraved monsters to see them as a happy family is going to make her question her parents bigotry.

I was talking about this back in my “I’m not a good queer piece”, where there are people who want to censor reality from their children, in the hope they’ll never be exposed to ideas of free expression and self evolution. In some ways this article is very dated, a gay couple having a child would be news in the 1970s, not in 2010, however US Weekly is a celeb gossip magazine and one of the most universally famous celebrities in the world having a child is big news, the same as if any other major figure was.

It was a non issue, or at least it should have been, except the store manager felt it was acceptable to support and tolerate the open hatred of his clientele. I realize that Harps has already disowned the action, but i see no message of disciplinary action, that would have been applied if this had been a racist situation rather than a homophobic situation.

If the manager made a poor judgement call, then i’d like him to be disciplined, but if he did it because he agreed with the covering up, then i’d like the store to underline this action with a demotion or a firing, because thats what they’d do if he were to have done that on racist grounds.

Story source SF Gate

Some updates on Keith Olbermann

Everything is still pretty quiet, Rachel’s comments were cut short in the podcast, and everyone is digging at the story.

Watching Anderson Cooper, looks like its a political issue within MSNBC’s office structure with the Comcast take over. They are not saying its a direct link, but the Comcast takeover may have made the environment untenable for Keith or his superiors to have the editorial freedom he was used to.

However he’s back to tweeting, and hopefully we’ll see Keith, and a full explanation soon.

In the meantime, #FOK is the trending keyword on twitter. We are Friends of Keith here at No More Lost.

An ally falls, Keith you were a friend, a champion, and we want you back

It seems strange that i’m tearing up at the thought of a celebrity being forced out. But this isn’t about a celebrity, its about a friend who’s been the one glimmer of light in the dark places. I may not have been focused on the US back then, but the impression of 2001-2003 USA was one in which dissent was frowned upon, i felt sick that a country that stood up for freedom of expression was acting in an almost proto-fascist manner.

In that time someone stood up, and said No Mr President you don’t get a free ride, but due to the fact that John Stewart was a political satirist, he was not able to have the same impact as a “serious journalist”.

Keeping an eye on the American airwaves, someone stuck his head up above the sand and my first exposure was this special comment.

He risked his career, and gave voice to those who did not believe the talking points given by the Whitehouse, he challenged the cheer leading and stood up for what he felt was right.

I cannot show all his career in this article, but there is still one piece that comes to mind as one of his finest moments, a special comment on marriage equality.

I may be a brit and used to genuinely neutral coverage of the BBC, but his perspective and commentary has help make me proud to be an American, that such a voice stayed on the airwaves, who kept fighting for what was right over what was convenient or politically expedient.

In a total shocking move, apparently happening in the moments before a commercial break, Keith Olbermann was told that this would be the last show.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Its still unclear about what caused this departure, but the Comcast takeover may have been responsible, including the firing of Jeff Zucker prior to this.

As i find out more about this travesty i’ll keep writing about it, but unless i find out otherwise MSNBC is on the censorers of voices list. I hope that Rachel Maddow being off the air tonight is a show of solidarity with this firing.

Pornblocking – why it would have killed me

The Conservative MP Claire Perry, representing the good constituency of Devizes, Wiltshire, has suggested the introduction of a Great Porn Filter. This stalwart piece of software would patrol the borders of our great nation, letting in only the most virtuous, the most pure, the most clean of web traffic. With the filter in place Britain might rid itself of the terrible addicition to pornography that has brought it to its knees (so to speak) and which has led to all the problems that we now face: student debt, benefit cuts and snow over our noble runways. Without internet porn Britain would once again be a place that Mary Whitehouse could smile down upon from her heavenly doilie-enhanced throne. It would become, once again, a green and pleasant land.

Ahem.

I’m not going to go into why the “research” supporting Claire Perry’s little crusade is rubbish, as Foxsoup did a far better job than I could. But do check out the original Parliamentary discussion. However, I am going to tell you what the result would be.

The filter is an attempt to censor pornographic imagery from young sexual adults. These dirty, naughty images would enter the country at will, but it would be the task of your ISP to clamp their electronic fists around your home phone line and prevent your household from accessing them. If you did want access to Asian Hot Ass or Mighty Cocks of the Midwest then you would have to phone up your ISP and ask them to remove it.

You would have to beg for porn.

“Hello there, this is Denise, how can I help you?”

“Erm, hello. I’d, er.. like some [mumble] please.”

“Some what, sir?”

“Some [mumble] ass.”

“Could you say that just a bit louder, sir?” [puts call on speakerphone for entire call centre to hear]

“I JUST WANT SOME HOT ASIAN ASS, ALRIGHT? IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK? I JUST WANT SOME PORN! IT’S BEEN 16 HOURS SINCE MY LAST WANK!”

“Just adding that to your account, sir”

Honestly, I feel sorry for Claire Perry’s husband. How much porn must he get through in a day that she has thought about bringing in anational ban on porn as the only way to stop him?

But there’s a very deadly side to this, as there is to all right-wing authoritarian plans. Because, who defines porn? There is no National Porn Agency. There is no Inspectorate for Sexual Materials. As far as I can tell, the nearest authority we have for defining porn is The Daily Mail. That self-righteous rag is the only place drawing the line in the sand and saying “this is filth”, often alongside a full-page reproduction of said filth.

For those of us who do not have the taste to read the right-wing press we have to rely on personal discretion. For me, porn is heavily literal. I get off on stories and poems – yes, that is pretentious – I need imagine an erotic sitatuion to get off on it. From what I can tell of fixing the computers of my friends their erotic tastes cover a range of tastes quite different to mine: from comics to pictures to films to, in one case, ‘Allo ‘Allo slash fiction.

There are even, y’know, some people who, ha ha ha, get off on pictures of the same sex. Heh heh…

Oh. Shit.

I remember being a 15 year old boy (we’ll come to that later). I remember how confusing sexuality was. I remember how fucking difficult it was in those pre-web days to get access to porn. We don’t appreciate it now, but once it was hard to get porn. It wasn’t just a case of sitting down with a laptop and opening your browser bookmarks. Oh no. In those days you had to go into a newsagent. And browse the top shelf. And pick up a magazine. And walk up to the counter. And turn bright red. And experience the leer of the owner as he put it in a discreet paper bag. And walk out, shamed.

Now imagine that if you’re a gay teenager.

It isn’t easy being gay in a straight world. As much as we like to think that we’re all groovy with gays, that we’ve got some gay friends, it’s still not easy to be an out non-straight adult. It’s positively dangerous to be a queer  teenager. Can you imagine how utterly terrifying it must be to access gay porn in meatspace when you’re discovering that you’re not normal, that what you are can get you beaten to death? If you’re non-straight, you know how that feels. If you’re straight then have a good fucking ponder about it.

But the availability of the internet in the late 90s changed this. Suddenly the world of same-sex genital tittilation was available from the comfort of your own teenage bedroom. You don’t have to risk being mocked, or a beating. Or death. Now you could explore your sexuality, discover your tastes, all from the comfort of your masturbation throne.

Claire Perry doesn’t want that. In her world, young people don’t have a sexuality, or erotic tastes. They’re good girls and boys, appropriately attracted to the opposite sex, waiting to marry before they can get any of that nasty, sticky behaviour over with. And certainly not one of those dirty fucking queers. I feel sorry for her children.

And it gets worse. Because, it’s the start of the slippery slope. If we start blocking erotic materials “for the children” then what else gets caught up in that censoring dragnet? A lot of things, for certain – sexual health advice. Images of healthy bodies that a worried teen might need to look at (“is my penis meant to look like that?”, “Are my breasts meant to be different sizes?”). Sexual health sites fall under the auspices of “porn” for a lot of current parental control software. This is because netnanny software is fundamentally stupid. It doesn’t know WHY you or your child are trying to access a site, only that the Scunthorpe council homepage is pornographic (based on SUPER ADVANCE KEYWORD SEARCHING).

Oh, what about abortion advice? Why would nice children ever want to access that information? Better block it! It’s not like teenagers are going to get pregnant!

And then there is another group. I give this one special mention, despite its rarity, because I belonged to that group. A group of kids who hated themselves, who were positively terrified of their own bodies, who are desperate to find out why their own flesh has betrayed them. Transgender teens.

Yes, they exist. I hated what I was for nearly all my teenage years, wanting to rip the skin from my body, sobbing myself to sleep at night because I couldn’t understand what I was. But then came along the internet. Oh, the internet. It fucking saved me. It gave 18 year old me a view of the world that made me realise that I wasn’t alone, that I could do something about the pain that made me want to die.

Claire Perry, and her evil piece of legislation, would take that lifeline away. Oh, maybe not conciously. I doubt she even knows that trans people exist, let alone that there are trans teenagers out there who rely on the internet for vital support. She wouldn’t notice as the sites they use to gain crucial advice from are blocked, due to having never-quite-defined “adult materials”, as support channels are closed down for “endangering youth”. She wouldn’t notice as sites all over the net are blocked for containing mention of sex, genitals, puberty and sexuality, when what they are doing is educating a badly unrepresented and unsupported section of society.

She wouldn’t notice as another young person slits their wrists in utter desperation.

So fuck you, Claire Perry. Fuck you and your plan to block life-saving “pornography”. Fuck you and your plan to block REAL pronography.

Just fucking fuck you.

Original posted at unaverage.co.uk

Gay Marriage, will lead to polyamorous marriages…

I keep hearing this as a reason why gay marriage should be stopped, because its all part of a slippery slope. Admittedly growing up in a close minded community i assumed that couples were normal, and anything else was odd. However as we grow up we change both in outlook and what we want.
Poly Hearts 2
I’ve evolved to the point that in many ways i’m no longer even looking for the one. I’m far from finding a life partner. I do have people who are unbelievably important to me in my life but i don’t think one person would necessarily fill all my needs. I have no plans one way or another, its all part of the journey of personal evolution.

Its a situation today where LGBTQA activists almost shy away from the Poly group because “that’s too weird” and claim that they just want gay marriage nothing more. I see it as a milestone, and also a recognition of the ways families have been throughout all time, only more openly. To quote my favorite example, the only reason that the dried up gene pool of the Royal Families of Europe have not become so inbred they cannot breed is because the royal women have been having enough affairs that new blood has sneaked into the royal bloodlines.

Husbands and Wives had Mistresses and Lovers, you did not necessarily marry who you loved, and quite commonly Husbands and Wives had Lovers and Mistresses…

I don’t want to get ENDA, Marriage equality, DADT repeal and Hate crimes and leave it at that, we need to recognize that our society is evolving to have open relationships between more than 2 people. This is not the abusive Latter Day Saint, or Islamic polygamous practice of having more than one wife, each of which is a separate often competitive relationship to the other wives.

Looking at some of my friends, i’ve seen relationships of more than the norm, and unsurprisingly given the stability of a mature adult relationship, these families are perhaps even stronger than the couples I see around me.

Its about having a group relationship. To give a basic primer, assume you have a relationship of Henry, William and Denise. This means that…

  • Henry is married to William and they have a physical and emotional relationship
  • Henry is married to Denise and they have a physical and emotional relationship
  • William is married to Denis and they also have a physical and emotional relationship
  • Henry, William and Denise all share a bed, and are a married triplet who are physically and emotionally committed to each other

While the studies showing LGBTQA parents being wonderful and capable parents are numerous, the social stigma of Polyamorous families has resulted in there not being so many studies, anecdotally from the families I know, the children are some of the most well adjusted and capable children i’ve ever seen.

I know we aren’t going to get legal polyamorous marriages tomorrow, or even when DOMA is finally struck down as evil and bigotted, but those who care about what is right, just and true, need to realize there are fights still to have.

It’ll be a while but one the day I want my child to be able to check out a book from the public library called “Charlie has a Mummy, a Daddy and a Dafu”…

Chris, Cherie & Fritz
Just another real american family

The Episcopalian Church goes there… again… while gay rights groups applaud State Department

Anti same-sex marriage arguments
Religious right/Conservative arguments against same sex marriage

I’m not a Christian. I’m not especially a massive supporter of religion in general either, though firmly of the belief that everybody needs to have a little faith sometimes – it just doesn’t have to necessarily be in a God. As such, I pass little judgement on Christianity itself, but I’m just as capable as the next person of observing the things done and the sentiments expressed by people in its name, and to compare those with the Christian teachings that, lets face it, most of us in the western world have encountered whether we’re Christian or not.

In 2003, the Episcopalian Church was the first large Christian denomination in the world to elect an openly gay Bishop, and did so in spite of a smear campaign that pandered to all the usual dirty tactics – including hugely overinflated accusations of sexual assault, which were investigated and disproved… and he was elected by a significant majority, demonstrating the majority of the denomination’s commitment to people – human beings – and no sexualities.

On New Years day this year, 2011, comes another commendable first from this same denomination – the wedding of two high-level priests, who incidentally happen to be lesbian, is thought to be a first for the US.

passport application
The old passport application form - "mother" and "father" are due to be ammended to "Parent 1" and "Parent 2"

Meanwhile, in what must surely be a bitter pill to swallow for many viewers of the conservative current affairs channel Fox News, the US State Department has announced that Consular Report of Birth Abroad documents, and significantly, passport applications, will no longer ask for the entry of “mother” and “father”, but of the gender neutral fields “parent 1″ and “parent 2″. This move allows for the recognition of both family situations arising from such things as IVF treatment, and of course, families with same sex parents. The new passport applications will be rolled out in February.

Of course, religious right so-called “pro family groups” are proclaiming outrage and insanity at this move – nothing is unexpected about that! “Political Correctness gone mad” is the cry. They argue that this change somehow provides less information than the previous “mother” and “father” fields. This is a stance, however, that betrays the true hypocrisy of such groups. As the State Department explains, through deputy assistant Secretary of State Brenda Sprague;

These improvements are being made to provide a gender neutral description of a child’s parents and in recognition of different types of families. … We find that with changes in medical science and reproductive technology that we are confronting situations now that we would not have anticipated 10 or 15 years ago.

In other words, this move from the State Department is a move that simply recognises families which already exist – what’s so wrong with that? Simply, the so-called “pro family groups” doing the complaining are very picky about which families they are in favour of. A family with LGBT parents is still a family, but religious right pro family groups would evidently prefer that it weren’t recognised as such. It’s obviously not their views on family that inform them in this, but their so-called “Christian” views on homosexuality. Such duplicity and misrepresentation doesn’t sound very Christian at all!

What can we learn from all this? What message can we take from it? What does it show? I propose that these recent events, considered together, say two important things. The first of these things is a confirmation of the old adage that “empty vessels make the loudest noise”. While these pro family groups ironically and duplicitously campaign against the recognition of those families they don’t like the idea of and practice bigotry and discrimination in the name of their religion, they claim their view to be the Christian way – it’s not. It’s simply the ideological view of the christian religious right, who in ignorance of the actual reality they face, do not espouse the view of Christianity as a whole. That much is demonstrated by the Episcopalian Church, whose most senior episcopal official of Massachusetts has spoken of the much kinder and more christian view that, “God always rejoices when two people who love each other make a lifelong commitment in marriage to go deeper into the heart of God through each other.”

Secondly, there is a message of hope, and a sign of increasing change. 25 years ago, in the middle of the 1980′s, gay people were blamed for the spread of AIDS, or the HIV virus as we now understand it. It was described as a “man made disease”, with gay people being the primary vectors through which it is spread. This of course is now recognised as nonsense, but going back 25 years ago, such ideas were exemplary of the widespread misunderstanding and vilification of gay people. Quite simply, it was not OK to be gay. These days, while LGBT people face significant inequality and outrageous discrimination in various areas, it is much more socially acceptable to be gay. We’re not quite there yet but we’re making progress, and the events and changes described in this article exemplify the positive direction in which things are moving – that the State Department would recognise same sex families in its passport applications would have been utterly unthinkable just 10 years ago.

There is hope. There is change. The generation that now finds itself all grown up has seen this change, and it’s something to celebrate. It’s not enough and there’s still work to be done, but it’s heading there. This generation of young LGBT people have every reason to hope and to believe that in continuing this work, as they grow up and live out their lives, there can be and will be full equality.

“Redefining marriage” at issue in England?

Gay MarriageIs there an issue of “redefining marriage” in England? Charlie Butts of OneNewsNow appears to believe so. So much so in fact that he elected to write an article about it for the American Family News Network. It begs the question of who this family is – most certainly not a gay one. No, the American Family News Network is an offshoot of the American Family Association founded by the religious right conservative Donald Wildmon, dedicated to purveying “Your Latest News From A Christian Perspective”. Quite why this group feels it has a monopoly on what a Christian perspective is is anybodies guess, but that goes for many such right wing so-called family groups.

It has to be wondered whether LGBTQIA Americans are “letting the side down” at the moment, because quite evidently, this was a slow news day. There must have been very little ammunition against Gay people in America on the day of publishing for this non-story to reach our screens! Why else would the author have written about such an irrelevant story? By the authors assessment, that issue of which he writes is unlikely to amount to anything anyway, so why would the American Family News Network pay such attention to something which is nothing to do with America, and in their belief, would prove inconsequential. That there are people in the UK who would like to see same sex marriage recognised as legitimate is no secret and it’s nothing new. Indeed, if there were a story worth a mention at all, it would be that the Liberal Democrats (a party currently in Coalition Government in the UK) voted to support Same Sex Marriage as a matter of policy -That was some time ago!

Lets cut to the chase here – is same sex marriage a redefinition of marriage? Only so if you define marriage as between a man and a woman… but that is not the definition of marriage itself. Indeed, here in the UK we have civil partnerships which were incorrectly described as marriages in all but name by those that created them! Clearly then, the concept of marriage is not especially perceived as being primarily between one man and one woman, but rather, is perceived as the loving union of two people before the state. It is NOT perceived as being before God by anybody but the religious, which is why in the UK, civil ceremonies exist.

So, perhaps redefining marriage is not the issue in England. Perhaps the possible existence of same sex marriage is an issue and a more accurate way of describing that issue. Indeed, that much is true, but again, Mr. Butts has the wrong end of the stick. In fact, a 2009 Populus opinion poll, as reported by The Times Newspaper, reported that 61% of people agreed that “Gay couples should have an equal right to get married, not just to have civil partnerships”, with just 33% disagreeing. Clearly, that’s a very definite suggestion that the “redefinition” of marriage “at issue” which Mr. Butts perceives is in fact the exact opposite of the issue that actually exists in England. Englanders aren’t “fighting back the horde of ‘gay activists’ trying to advance their ‘homosexual agenda’”. Englanders in fact realise that gay people deserve the same basic opportunities and rights as straight people, and they support gay marriage. The “issue” therefor is that of bigotry on the part of so called “pro-family” groups.

I guess the term “pro-family unless you happen to be gay” is a bit less catchy, but it’s closer to the truth. It is in fact the “pro family” groups that have the issue, not the rest of society. Considering the specifics of the article in question, the case being brought to the courts regarding marriage is not purely a “same sex marriage” issue. It’s an equality issue. It’s a question of why gay people and straight people should be segregated by law. It’s a question of what possible reason there could be for denying straight people the right to a civil partnership, and by comparison, why gay people should be equally be denied the right to marriage. Mr. Butts suggests that the case reeks of judicial activism, but judicial activism is when judges step beyond the realms of their station to make a point. It is quite within their station to make judgements on points of law, and that is exactly the task before them here. The judges are required to look both at whether there is a valid reason for denying civil partnerships to straight people, and if not, whether there is therefor a reason to deny marriage to gay people too.

In any case, regardless of the outcome of the case, public and political opinion is increasingly shifting in favour of same sex marriage, because the public is increasingly realising that there is no good and wholesome reason to deny it. The only unsavoury agents in the arena on this issue are in fact pro-family groups and religious right activists baying for the ability to discriminate and segregate… to oppress and hate.

So why the interest in UK matters from an American Family group? It’s probably the same reason that Fox News recently used footage of the student protests against tuition fee rises instigated by a right wing government as a suggestion that the people of the UK were following in behind the Tea Party movement of the US. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, and the student movement here has been consistently on the left, not the right. Far right groups and organisations want people to believe that they are not raving, ranting, hateful and regressive – to ensure it, they want people to believe that other major players in the world are in agreement with their views, and are prepared to lie about it and misrepresent the facts. This speaks of just how sinister they can be, and how much they are actually worth listening to.

Lies, deceit, hate, bigotry and intolerance are not pro-family. Perhaps that’s part of why gay people often make better parents.

Fifth Horseman of the Homophobic RNC apocalypse rears her head…

Following up on the interviews of three of the contenders for the RNC chair, and theinterview of the current RNC chair Michael Steele, we now have the fifth and final serious contender for the position being interviewed again by NOM.

You’d hope that at least one candidate would stand up for civil rights but we have another candidate who seems to be virulently opposed to LGBTQA equality, who wants to pander to the worst elements of their party, rather than bring the republican party into the 21st century.

Maybe its too much to hope that the republicans would at least nominate one candidate who wasn’t opposed to gay rights.

However the republican party is showing is colors as an unrepentantly homophobic party, and despite the efforts of groups like GOProud and the Log Cabin Republicans the RNC seems gearing up for 2012 to be a campaign with anti-gay values at its core.

Maybe this will drive the moderates back to the democrats again and there will be a 2012 landslide back towards the more socially progressive party. While that makes things somewhat better it doesn’t solve the undeniable bigotry in American politics.

If you are a moderate, stand up for sanity and justice, but if you are committed to the republican party, then you need to save your party. No longer can you support people who peddle hatred and bigotry. Yes for over 50 years the party of Lincoln has suffered the consequences of the dixiecrats and the southern strategy, and has identified itself with intolerance and bigotry.

Republicans, it is time for you to save your party.

Michael Steele talks to NOM

Following up our previous article about the candidates for the RNC chair being interviewed by the National Organization for Marriage.

We keep assuming that each victory we win, those victories cannot be rolled back, but already the Republicans are salivating about rolling back marriage equality in New Hampshire, and NOM is demanding that the remaining Iowa justices are stripped of their rights for daring to rule for equality.

Now Michael Steele, is arguing for a federal gay marriage ban, while at the same time claiming he’s not opposed to gay equality. In the same conversation he says he’s not a bigot, but at the same time tells us that gay relationships are inferior for children, despite countless independent studies showing that LGBTQA parents are as good as straight parents.

On the one hand he wants to use the sabre of states rights, like the slave trading south, and later the segregationist south. On the other hand he wants to use the club of federal restrictions, not disimilar to the evils of DOMA, Plessy vs Ferguson and other bigoted actions.

The republican party no matter how you feel about its other policies is as bad as the southern democrats or the dixiecrats, who opposed civil rights in the 1960s talking about civil rights, traditional family values, and religion. Through intolerance, misinformation and fear, they seek to not only hold the line against justice and equality, they want roll back the progress we’ve made.

If you are a republican, please ask yourselves if you would have voted for the dixiecrats, because by voting for the republicans and not calling them to task for their homophobia, you are supporting a no less disgusting a party than that abominable party.

Equality will win out, but scumbag bigots like Michael Steele just make our lives harder to feed into their dislike of LGBTQA people.