A Day of Despair, when we need a Day of Hope

For those of you who maybe were approached in school or college on monday, you’ll know that it was the “Day of Dialogue”, an event meant to counter the “Day of Silence” memorial that takes place every year. It was started by Focus on the Family and the Alliance Defense Fund to protest the grass roots personal vow of silence taken to protest bullying of LGBTQIA youth.

They try to wrap the concepts up in ideas of love, hope, understanding, compassion and truth, and yet in an Orwellian twist the day is one of hate, despair, ignorance, callousness and lies, but it doesn’t need to be. There are those who want to leave the religious bigots alone, to suffer in their pain and ignorance but that’s not good enough for me.

We through chances of fate, luck and character, get the advantage of seeing a better world, a tolerant progressive world worthy of our dreams. I don’t want to live in a bubble outside which fear and misunderstanding rule. We’re all outside Plato’s Cave, bathing in the sunshine looking in at people chained to the walls begging to not be set free. Maybe thats a situation you can live comfortably with, but I choose not to.

As you sit comfortably in your homes and live you lives, think about all the Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Intersex youth. There’s at least a million children in daily torment due to the prejudices of their parents who we are abandoning. But as well as that we are abandoning those parents, pastors and other misguided people to their ignorance. I have to believe that for all the evil they spread, there has to be hope for the Pope, Maggie Gallagher, and Rick Santorum. All it takes is the right person, in the right place, with some wise words, to start them on the road towards the light.

This isn’t about changing what those people are, its about showing them about the kind of people they have the potential to be, free of the shackles of ignorance. We don’t have to wait until the next “Day of Dialogue” we can start today, we can start talking, and fighting the lies they tell about us.The battles fought over healthcare actually gives us some lessons to be learned. We have to confront every lie, every distortion, and every last verse of holy book. The death panels lie should have lasted less than a news cycle, and so should the lies being told about LGBTQIA people. We are different, but we are not broken, and our stories, and our courage can set more than just us free.

Its not just about us, its about freeing them from the artificial constraints that they are forced into. The sheer madness of the situation is actually thrown into sharp relief with the legal prostitution that occurs in Iran, where a helpful iman grants marriages between client and sex worker, who after “sharing the marital bed” divorce using the “I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you” method, and leave. Sex is meant to be between consenting adults, and freedom from religious views on sex is something of what we offer. … and holding it back because of some strange ideas about criminalizing intimacy only being allowed during marriage, is lunacy.


What did you do on Valentines Day

These wonderful activists decided to try to get the basic human freedom of marrying the person they love. Sad to see that there were too many bigots at the licensing office in many states.

Two things stuck out to me, one was the woman in california who was so apologetic of the situation, and wrote an IOU a marriage license and said she would be honored to give them one when she could, it kinda made me cry. The other was a man saying “you aren’t helping your cause” what a little shit, and I say that with love and compassion… We will do what ever we can to raise the issue and fight for our basic human rights of equality. You wont stop us.

I wish i’d been out with these brave people, sadly obviously not in the US at the moment… more bigotry in action.

I don’t care about Reagan

On the 6th of February 1911 there was delivered a bouncy baby boy by the name of Ronald. This was a man who was set to change the world in ways that few could imagine. To some he was a hero like to another, to me and many who know what he did, he was a villain.

When I wanted to write about this, I wanted to do a slight rant about how his record was filled with bigotry and hatred towards everybody who wasn’t a straight white male. But all of you know about his opposition to the civil rights movement, his blanket opposition to Gay rights, and his almost genocidal avoidance of acting on the AIDS crisis for 6 years. You know all of this, and me showing him for what he was wont change a thing.

This article was going to be full of righteous bile, but I was re-watching an episode of Smallville while writing, where Oliver Queen talked about “Armchair Bloggers” who just complain about the world and do not fix it. Its true, I’m no David Kato, I’m no Stonewall Rioter, I’m not even a member of the Queer Liberation Front. I don’t know how to save the world, I still find it difficult to save myself at times.

But, I’m me, I’m still here, and I’m looking for ways to fight and I’m speaking. Maybe its a fool’s errand, maybe the pessimists are right, nothing ever changes for the better.  Sometimes in my dark moments I believe them, but then I remember something extraordinary.

In 1945 US troops marched into concentration camps across europe, releasing all the groups of prisoners, but one. Those who wore the pink triangle,  they were dragged out of Nazi prisions, and thrown right into American ones, to suffer for being true to who they were.

A few weeks ago, a law was finally passed that said the revolutionary idea that if you are gay or lesbian you have a right to serve your country in the military. Now yes I know its utterly incomplete, and unimplemented, but things change. Next time that the US military marches into a tyrannical situation, it will contain out and proud members of a caste of formerly repressed people. That same military’s predecessors would have been the ones arresting and brutalizing.

So don’t think you can sit there in a cloud of pessimism and woe, smug and self satisfied that the world never change, because the history of the world is one of improvement and hope.

Rainbow and US Flags fly together

I often see the American flag hung next to the rainbow flag, and slowly but surely that sullied flag of false dreams is earning the right to be hung next to the rainbow.

There is an American phrase about giving our children a better life than our own. Our forebears stood up for us to make it possible for us to be out and proud in a way that they could not in youth. Just by living we honor their example, but we can do more, we can give our children a more open freer better world than the one in we live in.

Of course it will not be plain sailing, and Reagan’s stepchildren are still looking for ways to change the world back to his way of thinking. Palin, Huckabee, and others will always appear, evil never goes away, but we can keep fighting and keep pushing it back.

Who among you will listen to the mad dreams of a foolish, idealistic woman… I believe in you… please believe in yourselves and make a difference.

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.

Half Way Out of the Dark

The winter solstice, which goes by many names, is represented by a beautiful phrase “Half Way Out of the Dark” as spoken by the Doctor.

Things feel pretty dark right now, the conservative right wing has just practiced a purge on its more moderate types, and now has gotten into the majority of the House of Representatives.

Barack Obama, while being a good centrist leader, is not the progressive president we’d hoped for, were ENDA implementation and DOMA repeal high priorities, you’d hope they would have been pushed through or least brought up during this Congress.

Uganda is still going ahead with their gay genocide bill, and the Christian Right is looking at their situation practically salivating at the possibilities. Look at the Tea Party caucus coalescing around Jim DeMint and his hatred.

The extraordinary thing about the winter solstice is that at the same time as being the shortest, darkest, most miserable day of the year, with a progression of it getting darker and shorter its the first day it starts getting brighter and sunnier.

There is a large grouping of intolerant people on the right, often formed around religious groups, that wants to roll back the progress. They are afraid of us, and out of fear and hatred they bring up voices like Christine O’Donnell, Joe Miller and Sharon Angle.

However our allies are growing, a large majority of Americans recognizing the fact that gay discrimination is wrong, and its only a matter of time before those people realize that they need to support full equality. We help that every day that we are true to ourselves, not ashamed, not in the closet, and not quiet.

If you are hiding in the closet at work, its time to stop, its time to stand up. Maybe in your church you hide yourself for a quiet life, its time to stop, its time to stand up. Thankfully now my gay brothers and lesbian sisters will soon be able to stand up for themselves in the military. We are not a quiet passive minority, we are an army of repressed, brilliant, wonderful, shining people, and now is the time to not wait for the light, but create it.

We shouldn’t be waiting, we have to stand up, today we should have equality, so waiting for tomorrow is too late.

I’m Gemma, I’m a lesbian identified, occasionally guy dating, transgender woman, and I’m standing up for today being the day we get equality.