October 1, 2010
A couple of things I wanted to point to, apropos of my previous post:
First, I want to point to the Trevor Project, which offers a crisis and suicide prevention helpline for LGBT and questioning youth, along with other great resources. The nationwide, round-the-clock helpline is 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386).
Dan Savage recently kicked off a YouTube campaign, the It Gets Better Project. Here’s what he said when he started it:
Billy Lucas was just 15 when he hanged himself in a barn on his grandmother’s property. He reportedly endured intense bullying at the hands of his classmates—classmates who called him a fag and told him to kill himself. His mother found his body…. I wish I could have talked to this kid for five minutes. I wish I could have told Billy that it gets better. I wish I could have told him that, however bad things were, however isolated and alone he was, it gets better.
But gay adults aren’t allowed to talk to these kids. Schools and churches don’t bring us in to talk to teenagers who are being bullied. Many of these kids have homophobic parents who believe that they can prevent their gay children from growing up to be gay—or from ever coming out—by depriving them of information, resources, and positive role models.
Why are we waiting for permission to talk to these kids? We have the ability to talk directly to them right now. We don’t have to wait for permission to let them know that it gets better. We can reach these kids.
Go check out the videos, and spread the word!
Finally, today, via Good As You, I came across God Loves Poetry, a site that is “challenging the Westboro Baptist Church one blackout poem at a time.” Basically, folks take WBC press releases and whatnot, and black out most of the words until what’s left is lovely, and loving. (You can see a photo of the process here.)
September 30, 2010
Tyler Clementi played the violin. He won a scholarship for his playing, and as of this fall he was a member of the Ridgewood (New Jersey) Symphony Orchestra—pretty impressive for an 18-year-old college freshman, and he’d been playing in the RSO since high school. A friend recently said this* about his talent: “When you picked up the violin and began to play, it was as if everything just paused until you put it down again.” Here is a photograph of Clementi playing, courtesy of the New York Times**:
That picture reminds me so much of one of my friends from high school; I like to think that if I’d met Tyler when I was his age, we would have been friends.
Perhaps that’s part of why I’m so thoroughly heartsick that Tyler Clementi appears to have killed himself last week. (The phrasing “appears to have killed himself” is a pretty heavy dose of denial on my part, but since today’s ABC News article—linked below—states that “Officials are still trying to determine today whether a body pulled from the Hudson River Wednesday is Clementi”… I guess I just want to believe that he might not actually be dead, that this was all some elaborate scheme for revenge. I’m not sure what that says about me, exactly.)
Here’s what happened, via the New York Times (linked below): Read the rest of this entry »
March 15, 2010
And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic
by Randy Shilts
I knew it was bad, though I knew that mostly from other readings, because essentially, I don’t remember a time before AIDS. I remember that in grade school, “Red Ribbon Week” was about saying no to drugs rather than AIDS awareness, but that’s pretty much it. When Ryan White was battling to attend school, I was in first grade. I can remember having assemblies in years not too much later where they talked about how you can’t catch HIV through casual contact, and we can still be good friends and hold hands and hug and everybody’s happy and no one discriminates against anyone! (Of course, that was all, to the best of my knowledge, academic; I’m not entirely convinced that people would have been so sanguine had someone with HIV or AIDS actually tried to attend the school). Read the rest of this entry »
February 2, 2010
Banning same-sex unions from being legally recognized is a curious business. Prop 8 supporters in California have tried to make the argument that such a ban is not discriminatory, and yet witness the effect Missouri’s ban on same-sex marriage has had on the lives of Kelly Glossip and his partner, Highway Patrol Cpl. Dennis Engelhard:
When Highway Patrol Cpl. Dennis Engelhard was killed in a Christmas Day traffic accident near Eureka, the agency described him as single with no children.
Gov. Jay Nixon called on Missourians to pray for Engelhard’s family, who “lost a beloved son and brother.”
Neither statement tells the whole story.
Engelhard, hit by a car that lost control in the snow, was gay. He left behind a partner of nearly 15 years who was not mentioned in his obituary or official information released by the Highway Patrol, although members of the agency knew about his sexual orientation.
If Engelhard had been married, his spouse would be entitled to lifetime survivor’s benefits from the state pension system — more than $28,000 a year.
But neither the state Highway Patrol pension system nor Missouri law recognizes domestic partners.
The combination of laws and restrictions combine to form quite a quandary: your partner can only receive your pension benefits after your death if you’re married, and you can’t get married because you’re gay. Read the rest of this entry »
December 10, 2009
Well, color me surprised: “Reverend Rick Warren released a video letter to clergy in Uganda today, speaking out against proposed legislation in that country that punishes homosexual activity with death.” You can view the video at the link, or if you’d rather not watch the message, I’ve transcribed Warren’s message below the fold. While I’m grateful that Warren finally spoke out on the subject, his message leaves much to be desired, and I think it comes off as defensive at some points and painfully self-congratulatory at others. All the same, is this the best we can hope for from evangelical leaders — a statement that essentially boils down to the notion that LGBTQ folks deserve respect and dignity, and should not be imprisoned or put to death simply for being who they are? I mean, I guess that’s a place to start, but — is it really so naive or foolish of me to expect more? Read the rest of this entry »
December 7, 2009
The Episcopal Church joins many other Christians and people of faith in urging the safeguarding of human rights everywhere. We do so in the understanding that “efforts to criminalize homosexual behavior are incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ” (General Convention 2006, Resolution D005).
This has been the repeated and vehement position of Anglican bodies, including several Lambeth Conferences. The Primates’ Meeting, in the midst of severe controversy over issues of homosexuality, nevertheless noted that, as Anglicans, “we assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship” (Primates’ Communiqué, Dromantine, 2005).
The Episcopal Church represents multiple and varied cultural contexts (the United States and 15 other nations), and as a Church we affirm that the public scapegoating of any category of persons, in any context, is anathema. We are deeply concerned about the potential impingement on basic human rights represented by the private member’s bill in the Ugandan Parliament.
It goes on from there, too. Doesn’t seem so hard, does it? Nor does it seem to contradict your Christian values. Now, you know and I know that your refusal to condemn the anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda has much more to do with connections and politics than with any actual issues of faith, but when a person of faith is in the public eye as much as you are, couldn’t you at least pretend to care about other people’s suffering? (Aside from the ostensible 146,000 Christian martyrs, that is. Also, what do you suppose the odds are that none of those ostensible 146,000 Christians were gay? Welcome to the idea of overlapping oppressions!)
Meh. I don’t even know why I care what Rick Warren thinks or says, particularly, except that he has such a large platform to speak from, and his church is nearly in my hometown…
At any rate, though, kudos to the Episcopal church! I don’t at all believe that you have to be a person of faith in order to work toward “the safeguarding of human rights everywhere,” but it’s always nice to see people of faith choose to do so.
December 1, 2009
Keith Haring’s “Silence = Death,” 1989
From The Body: What Can You Do, See, Hear and Know on World AIDS Day 2009?
The theme for World AIDS Day this year is HIV treatment access and human rights. Uganda’s “Anti-Homosexuality” bill is therefore relevant to this discussion:
The bill would criminalize the legitimate work of national and international activists and organizations working for the defense and promotion of human rights in Uganda. It would also put major barriers in the path of effective HIV/AIDS prevention efforts, the groups said.
“Discrimination and punitive laws like this aimed at marginalized groups and at those often among the most affected by HIV drives people underground and does nothing to help slow down the AIDS epidemic,” said Daniel Molokele, Africa program officer at the World AIDS Campaign.
(Rather an unfortunate topic for Pastor Rick Warren to declare himself apolitical on, then, no?)
On the eve of World AIDS Day, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Monday made the strongest statement yet by an administration official that the United States will not tolerate efforts to criminalize homosexuality among countries that receive U.S. funding to combat HIV/AIDS.
Also from Human Rights Watch: World AIDS Day: Punitive Drug Laws, Policing Practices Impede HIV/AIDS Response
Now that the U.S. has lifted the travel ban for people with HIV, the International AIDS Society has announced that it will hold its 2012 conference in the US, which will be the first time the conference has met here since 1990. (I recently read about the Society’s early meetings in And the Band Played On; I hope to have a review posted within the next few days.)
Education is still essential: Michigan teenagers, for example, are still becoming infected with HIV at an alarming rate.
From Sex in the Public Square: Thinking Local on World AIDS Day
November 4, 2009
By a narrow margin, Maine voters have rejected the legislature’s decision to allow same-sex couples to marry in that state. I’m heartbroken, I’m frustrated, and to be honest, I’m confused. I have heard the arguments against legalizing same-sex marriage, and while I suppose I understand them on an intellectual level, on a gut-deep, visceral level? They’re truly beyond me. Read the rest of this entry »
August 24, 2009
Perhaps my favorite discussion of the current debacle that is the health care debate is Michael Bérubé’s Chávezian Airspace exclusive interview with “the whole entire American mass media!” It’s mostly my favorite because it made me laugh as I beat my head against the desk, as opposed to other discussions, which just made me beat my head against the desk.
TransGriot discusses the sexism and racism inherent in the discussion of whether or not Caster Semenya is “really” a woman, and Cara takes Germaine Greer to task for the transphobia in her discussion of Semenya and gender.
And speaking of transphobia, I was jazzed to see that city leaders in Lawrence, KS are debating “whether to approve a new city ordinance that would make it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of gender identity.” The comments on the article are, sadly, full of fail, and I was ready to write them off entirely after skimming the first few, until I came to this gem:
I hope they pass this so women have to pay as much as men do for car insurance.
Women only get 70 cents for every dollar a man gets which is unfair because now the man only has 30 cents.
My train of thought went something like this: Oh jeez, another “what about the menz” guy who… wait, what? No, dude, see, the 70 cents is… you can’t be seriously saying… spluh? I mean, surely this is a disingenuous argument, not someone genuinely misunderstanding the “women make 70 cents for every dollar men make” talking point, right?
On a cheerier note, for those who may be looking at attending a college or university in the near future, Campus Pride has put together an LGBT-friendly campus climate index. I haven’t yet checked to see how my alma maters scored, but I’m definitely curious.
Hope everyone’s week is off to a good start!
June 4, 2009
So much has happened lately: the issues of torture and the abuse of detainees continue to rear their ugly heads. President Obama nominated Justice Sotomayor for the Supreme Court (and the wingnuts, predictably, went completely batshit) on the same day the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8. Dr. George Tiller was murdered. On all of these subjects I tend to find myself vacillating between being at a complete loss for words and babbling incoherently, and ultimately I feel like there’s really nothing I can say that others haven’t already said better. I’m not a journalist; I need time to let things stew before I can adequately articulate my thoughts and feelings. To wit, when Evil Bender told me on Sunday that Dr. Tiller had been murdered, first I said, “No,” partly disbelieving him entirely and partly hoping Tiller had been shot and rushed to the hospital and had been thought to be dead but would actually turn out to be alive. My next response was to tear up and say, “Motherfucker.” Neither word makes for a particularly substantive blog post.
Okay, so why am I going into this now? Well, something goofy came across my desk this morning that I thought would make for a nice lighter-side post, but I was concerned that without having at least acknowledged the other things going on in the country these days, it would come off as insensitive (at the least) and/or as if I’d been living under a rock. So. There we are.