Saturday, October 02, 2010

Gay Teen Suicide, Homophobia, Bullying and the Elephant in the Room: Religious Based Bigotry

In the aftermath of a cluster of gay teen suicides, there has been a great deal of commentary and discussion in the media, both LGBT and mainstream, about bullying and its destructiveness. An number of bloggers and commentators have skirted around the issue without addressing the force that is the underlying force behind all of the homophobia and bullying: religious belief. And in particular, conservative Christian religious belief which has come to hold special rights in what is supposed to be a secular society and a governmental system that grants no special privileges to any particular religious denomination or dogma. These special rights take many forms ranging from prayers opening public meetings where invoking the name of Christ is allowed no matter who in the public is offended to laws that enshrine conservative Christian beliefs in the civil laws. Such laws include, but are not limited to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and/or laws that continue to protect LGBT citizens from forms of discrimination prohibited by state and federal law when the targets of discrimination are literally everyone else in America except LGBT citizens.
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The principal proponents of anti-gay bullying – whether or not they have the honesty to admit it - are conservative religious leaders such as Pope Benedict who has described gays as "intrinsically disordered" toward "an objective moral evil," Richard Land and Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Convention. and, of course, professional Christians such as Maggie Gallagher, Tony Perkins and down low pastor Eddie Long who enrich themselves in large part by peddling anti-gay hatred. Jeremy Hooper has challenged their role in the “culture wars,” but in my view these individuals and their organizations and institutions border on accessories to murder and need to be called out as such. The constant anti-gay drum beat that these individuals and organizations disseminate is damaging in two ways: (1) it sends a message that anti-gay bigotry and bullying and other forms of anti-gay abuse are totally acceptable, and (2) it tells gay youth – and older gays as well – that they are damaged garbage unacceptable to the larger society. When one hears this message routinely and witnesses even the President of the United States and a strong plurality in the U.S. Senate lacking the integrity and resolve to end legalized discrimination and prejudice such as that embodied in DADT, the emotional and psychological damage to the targeted group can be lethal. Indeed, suicide comes to appear to be an attractive option. Believe e, I know of what I speak as one who has had two serious suicide attempts driven largely by the brutalization I experienced from a prejudiced legal system.
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Sadly, most courts - far too many politicians – lack the courage and respect for the U.S. Constitution to end the special rights given to anti-gay religious beliefs. A few courts have, however, recognized that Christianist religious beliefs should not shape the CIVIL laws. One such court was the Iowa Supreme Court in Varnum v. Brien, No. 07–1499, filed April 3, 2009, where that Court recognized that the underlying animus against homosexuals in general and in the facts before the Court in Varnum - gay marriage - is religious based. The Iowa Supreme Court stated in relevant part as follows:
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While unexpressed, religious sentiment most likely motivates many, if not most, opponents of same-sex civil marriage and perhaps even shapes the views of those people who may accept gay and lesbian unions but find the notion of same-sex marriage unsettling. . . . Consequently, we address the religious undercurrent propelling the same-sex marriage debate as a means to fully explain our rationale for rejecting the dual-gender requirement of the marriage statute.
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State government can have no religious views, either directly or indirectly, expressed through its legislation. . . . This proposition is the essence of the separation of church and state. As a result, civil marriage must be judged under our constitutional standards of equal protection and not under religious doctrines or the religious views of individuals. This approach does not disrespect or denigrate the religious views of many Iowans who may strongly believe in marriage as a dual-gender union, but considers, as we must, only the constitutional rights of all people, as expressed by the promise of equal protection for all.
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We in the LGBT community and the larger society can dance all around the issue of bullying, but in the context of anti-gay bullying, we will never solve the problem until we take on the driving force behind the phenomenon head on: religious based bigotry and the improper enshrining of such bigotry in the nation’s laws be it in the form of DADT or the deliberate exclusion of non-discrimination protections to LGBT citizens whether it be on the employment front, housing and accommodations or other everyday issues.
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When looked at from this perspective, as a nation, the United States must decide whether it will live up to the promises of the Constitution granting all citizens religious freedom and barring religious tests or not. If Barack Obama and others lack the spine to demand that the Constitution be made paramount, then this nation becomes in many ways little more than a hypocritical farce. We condemn Islamic extremists and their effort to impose their warped religious beliefs on all, yet we allow our homer grown equivalents to do precisely what we claim to condemn. Meanwhile, expect the suicide deaths to continue. There is truly no way to end homophobia and anti-gay bigotry without taking on toxic forms of religious belief head on and that includes condemning Christianists as a clear and present danger to to constitutional government.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Friday Male Beauty

Charlottesville Weekend - Possible Reduced Posting


This evening we are headed to Charlottesville - the boyfriend is doing hair for a client's wedding and I'll get to visit family too. The bride is putting us up at a hotel near the UVA grounds (Thomas Jefferson's Rotunda is pictured above)and the black tie reception will be at the very upscale Farmington Country Club on the west side of town - all in all we should have a great time at the wedding. While the boyfriend does hair tomorrow, I will get to visit my mom, sister and brother.
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Depending on how crazy things get, I may be posting less often until we return Sunday evening. As is the norm, we have someone house sitting our home in Hampton.

VCU Students Plan Events To Counter Wave of Suicides


I am pleased to see that students at Virginia Commonwealth University ("VCU") which two of my children attended are going to implement measures to try to make the campus more welcoming to LGBT students. I applaud their efforts and perhaps they and others can launch a vigil at the offices of Virginia's leading hate merchants, Governor Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Perhaps protesting at the offices of The Family Foundation to draw attention to that organizations constant gay-bashing and foul agenda to make the Commonwealth of Virginia a theocracy might be in order as well. And if such actions were taken, calling the television stations might not be amiss. With the Metropolitan Richmond Visitors and Convention Association seeking to attract gay tourism dollars to the city, I suspect this type of attention would put some much needed heat on Taliban Bob and Kookinelli. The Richmond Times Dispatch has details and here are some highlights:
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Virginia Commonwealth University students plan to make a video with a message of hope for anyone facing the kind of despair that caused a Rutgers University freshman to jump to his death last week. Life can be crushing when viewed "from a very small lens," said Cameron Hunt, a senior who is a member of the executive board of Queer Action, a student organization at VCU.

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The VCU students want to give teens who have been bullied because of their sexual orientation a broader view. To those "who feel lost and feel alone," the message is that life improves, Hunt said. The students plan to make a VCU edition of "It Gets Better," a YouTube video by Seattle columnist and gay activist Dan Savage.

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VCU students also are planning LGBT History Month, with activities beginning Monday that include panel discussions and film presentations to celebrate National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11. LGBT History Month events long had been planned, but the video is a response to suicides such as the one at Rutgers, which the university in New Jersey confirmed Wednesday.

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"Anti-gay bullying is a major problem in our community and across the country," said Elizabeth Panilaitis, executive director of ROSMY, a local group that supports sexual-minority youths. Panilaitis said studies show these youths are four times more likely than their peers to attempt suicide. The Rutgers case should serve as a call to action for school administrators to intervene to stop bullying, she said. Whether it was a hate crime or cruel prank is in dispute, but the case resonates with gay students.

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Life can be especially difficult for freshmen facing "forced socialization" in residence halls, said VCU's Hunt. "I think that is one of the hardest places to be yourself," he said. When he came out as a freshman at James Madison University, Hunt said, he was "the target of immediate ostracism" and harassment.

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Liz Canfield, assistant professor of women's studies and the faculty adviser for Queer Action, agrees. "The homophobic voyeurism with which Tyler's personal life was violated is deeply disturbing," she said by e-mail. She hopes campaigns such as the "It Gets Better" project will not only educate and empower but also help "combat heterosexism and homophobia on our campus and in our larger culture."

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Except for pockets of gay harassment in freshman dorms, Hunt doesn't think VCU has a big problem with bullying.

Yet Another Gay Suicide

The gay teen death toll keeps rising - I'm sure that Maggie Gallagher, Pope Benedict XVI, the Mormon Church and all who strive daily to make gay lives a living Hell must be smug and satisfied with all the recent deaths. Personally, it sickens me beyond description. As does the failure of our president and Congress to do anything meaningful to repeal DADT, repeal DOMA, and enact ENDA. I'm way over false promises such as the latest out of Nancy Pelosi that are pretty much aimed at suckering LGBT voters into voting for do nothing Democrats next month. The latest apparent casualty of our homophobic society is Raymond Chase, a student in Connecticut. I suspect that between the influence of other recent gay suicides and the feeling that nothing is progressing as rapidly as it should to give gays legal equality under the civil laws, an already often very toxic atmosphere has been intensified. Great work Maggie, Barack, Nancy and Harry and all the rest who bear varying levels of responsibility. Perez Hilton has these details:
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We have just lost a 5th young soul this week - that we know of - who is either gay or the victim or gay bullying. The 5th suicide in less than three weeks and the 3rd death just this week alone!
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It is just devastating for us to report that we have learned that Raymond Chase, an openly gay sophomore at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island , studying culinary arts committed suicide on Wednesday, several students have informed us.
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The 19 year old is believed to have hung himself in his dormitory. Ronald Martel, Ph.D., Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students, sent the following email to students on Thursday: Today I contact you with the deeply sad news of the passing of Raymond Chase, sophomore, 19, culinary arts major. The campus community is mourning the loss of this vibrant young man who leaves many JWU friends and teachers, and a loving family of Monticello, New York.
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Suicide is never an option! Please, please, please, TALK to your sons, brothers, cousins, friends, roommates! If someone you know is gay or questioning and going through a hard time, OFFER YOUR HELP.
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Sometimes people just want to know someone is there to listen. And, if you need someone to talk to yourself, please call the trained professionals at The Trevor Project and speak anonymously!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

More Thursday Male Beauty

Tony Curtis R.I.P.

Hatred and Homophobia - Who's to Blame for Gay Suicides

My blogger friend Pam Spaulding has an op-ed on CNN in the wake of Tyler Clementi's high profile suicide. The question comes down to why did he feel compelled to end his life and what can be done to stop the death toll. Pam is very restrained in her discussion and looks at the continued acceptability of anti-gay animus and the toll it takes on the lives and happiness of LGBT individuals. For the most part she holds back from laying blame where in my opinion it most properly belongs: parasitic professional Christians, the Mormon Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention all of which seek to inflict their anti-gay religious beliefs on all citizens notwithstanding the Constitution's promise of religious freedom. Equally to blame are legislators, both state and federal, sworn to uphold the Constitution who are either only too happy to pander to Christianists who would subvert the Constitution or who are too gutless and spineless to forcefully demand the immediate repeal of religious based anti-gay discrimination. Unfortunately, such politicians include the current occupant of the White House. Despite her restrained and diplomatic language, Pam gets much of the problem right. Here are highlights:
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Tyler Clementi's story may be high-profile because of the circumstances of the alleged bullying, but the fate of this young man is not a solitary incident. This parents' nightmare is repeated around the country as our society grapples with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) youth coming out at earlier ages -- and being visible from grade school to college.

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While they may find acceptance by loving parents and be encouraged by a culture increasingly embracing their identity, these young people find that "being themselves" is not always well-received by an important slice of their world -- school administrators, children who bully, and even teachers who subscribe to the "toughen up" philosophy. This world has not caught up, even as anti-bullying policies are being passed across the country.

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In the coverage of this incident, I have seen discussion about the legal angles of prosecution, the psychological impact of the alleged heinous violation of privacy, but not enough about the festering social ill that brought us here. Who creates the bully? Who is accountable? It's cold, this learned anti-social attitude towards being different and it has a striking impact on university campuses. Campus Pride, a nonprofit organization that engages student leaders and campus organizations to create safer, more LGBT-friendly colleges and universities, reissued its national report of findings on harassment at campuses, in light of Tyler Clementi's suicide.

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It makes your heart sink [read Pam's piece for all of the statistics]:

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-- Twenty-three percent of staff, faculty, and students who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or questioning (LGBQ) were more likely to experience harassment (defined as any conduct that interfered with the ability to work or learn) compared to heterosexuals. Eighty-three percent identified sexual identity as the basis of the harassment.

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-- Thirty-three percent of LGBQ and 38 percent of transgender students, faculty and staff have seriously considered leaving their institution due to the challenging climate.

Our society must discuss how the bully persona emerges in individuals -- young people who can do tremendous damage without even seeing themselves as bullies -- and this needs to happen out in the open.

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The media can play an important role. It can continue to call out, for example, things like the unhinged behavior of adult cyberbully Andrew Shirvell, the Michigan assistant attorney general, who is on a one-man homophobic mission to berate Chris Armstrong, the student body president at the University of Michigan. Shirvell, on the public payroll in a job that is supposed to represent all of the people of Michigan, maintains a blog solely devoted to his obsession with Armstrong.

As long as "moral" objections to "difference" continue to be carefully taught and tolerated, we will continue hearing about more Tyler Clementi giving up hope in humanity and Chris Armstrong looking over his real-world and virtual shoulder for a bully.

Many Big Donors to Democrats Cut Support

Obama and company seem to keep reaping the rewards of failing to deliver on campaign promises and, in the case of the White House, playing kiss up to the GOP which would as soon run over him with a truck than look at him - and that's when they're not claiming he's a Muslim. The New York Times is reporting that a number of major donors have closed their wallets and check books just as many in the LGBT community. Interestingly enough, a number feel that their money is better spent with groups that will actually push for progressive reforms as opposed to the Democratic Party and the White House which talk a good game but which are missing in action when it comes time to actually do something. The post mortem on November 3, 2010 will be most interesting and, if as some predict, it's a Democratic Party disaster, I truly hope much of the blame is hung around Obama's condescending neck. Obama has forgotten the old rule of remembering the ones who brought him to power and that is largely the progressives who helped turned out the vote of the independents. Here are some story highlights:
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Many wealthy Democratic patrons, who in the past have played major roles financing outside groups to help elect the party’s candidates, are largely sitting out these crucial midterm elections. . . Democratic donors like George Soros, the bĂȘte noire of the right, and his fellow billionaire Peter B. Lewis, who each gave more than $20 million to Democratic-oriented groups in the 2004 election, appear to be holding back so far.

“Mr. Soros believes that he can be most effective by funding groups that promote progressive policy outcomes in areas such as health care, the environment and foreign policy,” said an adviser, Michael Vachon. “So he has opted to fund those activities.” The absence of these Democratic megadonors is contributing to a huge disparity in spending between pro-Republican and pro-Democratic groups.

In the last week, Republican-leaning groups outspent their Democratic counterparts on television by more than seven to one on Senate races and nearly four to one on House races across the country, according to data from theCampaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks political advertising. The gap shows few signs of abating, even with the midterm election season in full swing.

The donors’ reluctance stems from a variety of factors, including pessimism about the party’s prospects in November, but also President Obama’s strong condemnations of this kind of independent activity

[S]ome more ideological donors are also upset that the Obama administration has not been more aggressive in pushing a liberal agenda. Big donors from Wall Street, including hedge fund executives and investment bankers, are also angry at the administration.

Thursday Male Beauty

Click to enlarge image.

Obama Remarks to Progressive Are Condescending

As regular readers know, back in 2008 Barack Obama convinced me that he was the real deal and that he offered the hope for real change in how Washington does business and for having an LGBT ally in the White House. I - and many others - have now learned, in my opinion, that it was all a cynical lie and that even where promised legislation has been moved forward, it has been a pitiful measure compared to all the campaign rhetoric. And on the LGBT front, basically nothing has been delivered as promised. Now, the Obama administration is having the gall to lecture former supporters who are none too pleased with all the broken promises as if they were naughty children. I'm beyond pissed off by this and now I seriously hope that Obama will face a primary challenge in the lead up to 2012. And I'm not the only one feeling this way. Obama and his worthless advisers at the White House have created their own problem and are now fanning the flames. Here are highlights from MSNBC:
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President Barack Obama’s lecture to his supporters to snap out of their lethargy is getting a frosty reception from some on the left side of the Democratic coalition.
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“I think it is a remarkably condescending message,” said Darcy Burner, the executive director of ProgressCongress.org and the Progressive Congress Action Fund. Progressives, she said, continue to be deeply involved in policy and in politics and are not at all lethargic or disengaged. “The fact that they [progressives and LGBT activists] are frustrated and discouraged has as much to do with the rhetoric coming out of the White House as anything else,” she said. “And this is the latest example of that.”
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“Here we have a president who over and over again said that a public option was going to be a key part of the health care plan — who then, it turns out, cut a deal to get rid of the public option. And he’s upset at the base that worked so hard to try to get a meaningful health care

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The concern about turnout isn’t that actively engaged political types won’t vote; the concern is that all of the people who got excited by the promise of change in the 2008 election, who voted for the first time or who’d voted rarely, aren’t going to show up because they feel let down.”
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“His contention — that the problem is that the people who believed in him are whiners — is not productive,” she said. “If he wants folks to be excited, he should do something to get them excited — or he should at least stop kicking them while they’re down.”
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Progressive blogger Jane Hamsher was harsher in her criticism of Obama. “This isn’t about GOTV,” she wrote on her blog. “It’s about setting up a narrative for who will take the blame for a disastrous election. And once again, the White House doesn’t care if they make matters worse in order to deflect responsibility from Obama….” She said Obama was engaged in “setting up a fall guy for November. The headline should really read: Obama Distances Himself From Democratic Voters.”
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No matter how hard he tries to deflect blame, in many ways the election on November 2, 2010 is a referendum on Obama and unless something drastic happens, the verdict is going to be quite damning. And if Obama wants to see who is at fault, then he need only look in the mirror.

The Schism in the LGBT Rights Movement

There's been a good deal of debate and discussion across the blogosphere about the schism if you will within the LGBT community on tactics and where to go from here given that, in the view of many, the incrementalist approach seems to have hit a brick wall. Many - and I am one of them - accuse HRC and other groups who claim to be our "leaders" of having sold out the rest of us in order to maintain their "access" to the White House, remain on the cocktail circuit invite list, be named among Washington's best dressed, etc. As a result, instead of playing hard ball with politicians and others who block progress, these organizations provide cover for those who gladly take our money and our votes and then refuse to deliver on promises - Barack Obama, are you listening? Zack Ford has a thoughtful piece on his blog that deserves a reading. He's not tearing down the old guard, but definitely makes the case for rethinking strategy and tactics. Those who are frustrated about the failure to achieve anything significant during the nearly two years of the Obama administration should check it out.
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In my view, part of the problem lies in the fact that too many self-anointed leaders live in Washington, D.C., and more progressive states where much has changed. Unfortunately, for even more of us in states like Virginia, very little has changed except that now we (1) are not deemed mentally ill by mental health experts and (2) the state cannot prosecute us at will under the old sodomy statutes. Personally, I am NOT satisfied with so little progress. In looking at the recent wave of gay suicides, John Aravosis sums up what I deem to be the circustances rather well:
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I think a lot of people who aren't gay, and even many who are, like to think that we're all rich and live in big welcoming cities where being gay is about as big a handicap as being left-handed. We say we want our civil rights, but I think a lot of people think we've got things pretty good, and behind closed doors, they probably call us whiners too.

And I'm sure our lives are pretty good, and just as good as straight people's, except for the part about not being able to get married, have children in many states, keep a job - oh yeah, and that nagging desire to kill ourselves because so many of us grew up thinking we were horrible people who would never be loved, or find love.

I think it's this kind of attitude that leads people to lecture us about "keeping the long view in mind" with regards to getting our civil rights. I wrote in response, just yesterday, "to paraphrase Keynes, in the long view we're all dead."

Gay civil rights isn't a "social issue." It's our lives. A lot of us, myself included, grew up thinking we'd never see the age of 30 because we'd have to kill ourselves once people found out we were gay. A lot of people have no idea how hard it is to grow up being gay. To grow up thinking God made you wrong. Thinking you will never find love. Thinking your own family and friends will disown you once they know who you really are. And hearing the President of the United States - one of the "good" guys - say that you don't deserve the right to marry the person you love.

And when politicians make promises to us, then lecture us to "stop whining" because the other guy would hurt us even worse, it really hits a raw nerve. It suggests that they don't think our struggle is a struggle. They don't think it's as important as the "important" issues the country faces. It tells us that they think we're just another special interest, no different than the corporate lobbyist trying to get another tax break.
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Our enemies among the Christianists and professional Christian set are relentless in their lies and untruths and the LGBT community needs to be just as relentless in its push back and its demands that politicians keep their promises. Too many lives are being needlessly lost while our "leaders" argue for a take it slow approach. I pledge to do my best to push relentlessly for FULL legal equality.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Anti-Gay Bullying Death Toll Rises With More Suicide Deaths

I wrote recently about Seth Walsh (at left), the Tehachapi, California, 13-year-old who hanged himself from a tree in his back yard after years of being bullied. Sadly, Seth died yesterday afternoon after nine days on life support. Equally sad, is new today that Tyler Clementi, an 18 year old Rutgers University student, committed suicide by jumping from the George Washington Bridge after a roommate and an accomplice posted video of Clementi kissing another male all over the Internet. Words do not begin to describe how such needless deaths sicken me. My heart goes out to the families who lost loved ones purely because of the inhumanity that goes hand in hand with anti-gay bigotry. Yes, the triggering circumstances of these two tragedies differ, but the underlying cause is the same: Homophobia and the unrelenting message put out by religious bigots and professional Christians that gays are inferior, diseased even, and worthy of abuse and torment. Laws like DADT add the force of the nation's laws behind this foul message and reinforce the anti-gay mantra.. My friend Wayne Besen summed up the situation in a press release where he stated in part as follows:
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We blame the anti-gay industry for fighting measures to end bullying in schools, and school officials who turn a blind eye to brutality. We are fed up with what amounts to anti-gay schoolyard muggings that are foolishly dismissed as 'boys being boys'. In reality, it is 'boys beating boys', and these bullies receive tacit approval for their violent, homophobic behavior by teachers and certain vocal segments of society.
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The goal of Exodus International and Focus on the Family is to purge LGBT people from society, although they disingenuously frame the issue as eliminating homosexuality, which is not possible. . . . When you target homosexuality, the result is persecution and punishment of LGBT people, and in many cases it leads to gay bashing or suicides. The anti-gay industry should dismantle these despicable programs and work towards creating solutions instead of suicides.
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Of course, we know that the anti-gay professional Christians - and I'd add NOM, the Mormon Church and the Roman Catholic Church to Wayne's list - will not stop their anti-gay propaganda. They are living far too lavishly and/or raise too much money off of the equivalent of blood money that they receive from the ignorant and their fellow bigots. I would also lay blame at the feet of Barack Obama and every member of the U.S. Senate that voted against DADT repeal. It truly all is part of one larger package of hate and bigotry. KGET-TV 17 has details on the death of Seth Walsh. Here are highlights:
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Tehachapi police investigators interviewed some of the young people who taunted Seth the day he hanged himself and determined despite the tragic outcome of their ridicule, their actions do not constitute a crime.
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Friends said Seth was picked on for years because he was gay. School administrators said they have an anti-bullying program in place, but schoolmates said staff at Jacobsen Middle School in Tehachapi offered Seth no protection or guidance.
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A YouTube video by a family member sends a message about Seth: "He was bullied and teased, now in the hospital, this face right here is suffering because of bullying, never say a mean thing again." . .A memorial service for Seth will be held Friday at 3:30 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Tehachapi.
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As for the sad case of Tyler Clementi (pictured at right), fortunately his tormentors may well be looking at criminal charges based on their unauthorized video taping of their victim (it's a crime in New Jersey to tape someone without their knowledge when they are in a place where they can expect privacy). One can certainly that both will be prosecuted and receive the maximum sentences possible. I also hope that Clementi goes after them in a civil lawsuit as well.
Here are highlights from the New York Daily News on this sad story:
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A Rutgers University freshman killed himself after two classmates used a hidden dorm room camera to splash his sex life across the internet, sources told the Daily News. A distraught Tyler Clementi, 18, left his wallet on the George Washington Bridge before plunging to his death in the Hudson River last Wednesday, sources said.

A Twitter post from one of the students accused of streaming the sexual encounter live on the internet indicated Clementi, a renowned high school violinist, was with another man. "Roommate asked for the room till midnight," read the post from Dharun Ravi, 18. "I went into Molly's room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay." The Twitter post went up Sept. 19 - three days before Clementi's suicide.

The stunning details emerged one day after authorities announced the arrests of Ravi and Molly Wei for cyber-voyeurism. The pair used the hidden dorm room camera to stream their fellow student's sex session, officials said.

Ravi's lawyer was not available Wednesday for comment. The top count against each suspect carries a five-year jail term. The two students were on the Piscataway campus less than a month before their arrests.

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I hate to sound terrible, but I hope the roommate gets convicted and gets to be some one's bitch against his will in prison. It would certainly be a touch of Divine justice. Oh, and I don't want to hear more platitudes from Obama about bullying being wrong. If he meant it, he'd either not appeal the ruling in
Log Cabin Republicans v. United States or he's issue an executive order stopping discharges under DADT. Anything less is merely more disingenuous bullshit.

Buy Tickets Now and Save - 2010 Legends Masquerade Casino Event

The early bird special prices for tickets ends this week. For local readers and those who will be in the Norfolk area on November 6, 20101, if you buy your tickets now, you can save money. This year's Equality Virginia Legends Gala - the area's premier formal event - is going to be a wonderful event and the proceeds will go to a good cause. God knows, we need as much funding for advocacy as possible here in Virginia with Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli as Attorney General and the toxic Family Foundation relentlessly pushing its anti-gay theocratic agenda. This years individual honorees are some of my longest friends in the local LGBT community and the community organization honoree, St. Mark's Episcopal Church has been in the forefront of LGBT acceptance for many years.

November 6th, 2010 Renaissance Hotel, Portsmouth, Virginia

5PM - 6PM - Pre-Event Cocktail Party in private VIP room

6PM - 1AM - Main Masquerade Casino Event

Early Bird Tickets Now Until October 1st (October 3rd)

$100 for One Ticket to the EV Legends Casino Night $120 for EV Legends Casino Night and Pre-Event Cocktail Party

Click here to get your tickets now!

2010 Steering Committee

Felix Borges – Chair

Carlton Hardy – Community Relations & Nomination Chair

Shannon Bowman – Sponsorship & Marketing Chair

Maurice Roebuck – Logistics Chair

Mark Board Richard Caden Edward Cassidy Cynthia Cutler Michael Hamar Claus Ihlemann
Barry Kavy Beedee McMillian Cheryl Scott Ann Vernon Mike Whitehurst

Wednesday Male Beauty

Feel the Christianist "Love"

I noted the other day how Dan Savage has launched the It Gets Better Project on You Tube in the hope of reaching gay teens and preventing suicides. It's a most worthy project and anyone with an ounce of decency ought to support the effort. Well, anyone that is besides the Christianists who seem to only disseminate hatred and reveal themselves to be utterly devoid of any humanity. As Dan is reporting at The Stranger, the hate mongers have started leaving vile comments on his project's website and have even gone so far as to create their own hate based platform which in one post rejoices in conjecturing that Billy Lucas is now in Hell. With self-congratulatory hate filled "Christians" like these, who in their right mind would want to call them self a Christian (I have ceased using the term myself)? Here's a sampling of the garbage that these assholes are posting. It's enough to make one want to vomit:
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"Billy Lucus, who hanged himself, obviously because he was gay, and unable to endure the guilt that the words of others prompted in him. This was indeed a tragedy, but not anywhere near the tragedy that Billy will discover in eternity when he faces the wrath of God upon rebellious and unrepentant sinners. Then, he will realize that his sin could not be atoned for by his own death, and he will realize that people like Dan Savage who encourage sin are deceivers. He will see them for what they are, the blind leading the blind. And he will realize that he has fallen into that ditch that the blind leading the blind inevitably fall into: that's eternal destruction and misery. Sadly, it's too late for Billy. For those who are viewing this video, however, their remains the opportunity of turning from sin to the obedience of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ."
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When I see such horrible trash, candidly, it makes me hope for the day when Christianity is an extinct religion. The world will be a far better place when that day comes. Dan aptly described the situation as follows:
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What can you possibly say in response to that kind of hate—the kind of hate that drove Billy Lucas to suicide—besides, of course, "Fuck you and the bible verses you rode in on, you monstrously hateful pile of shit." And, you know, when I listen to a grown man fantasize about a 15 year old boy being tormented in hell for all eternity, an infamous name pops to mind: John Wayne Gacy.

National Organization for Marriage ("NOM") Exposed

A new website has been launched by HRC and the Courage Campaign called "NOM Exposed"which seeks to publicize the anti-gay affiliations of the National Organization for Marriage, its shadowy yet substantial financial resources, and its efforts to circumvent campaign finance disclosure laws. In concept, I applaud with the site. The big question is whether or not anyone out side of the LGBT media will pay any attention to the disturbing facts and information made available. The mainstream media routinely gives Christianist bigots a pass and rather than ask any hard questions - e.g., asking FRC's Tony Perkins about his past white supremacist affiliations; asking Maggie Gallagher about how she's enriching herself through NOM - the norm is to merely provide the professional Christians a platform from which to disseminate hate. Sadly, we can expose NOM and other theocratic, anti-democratic, anti-Constitutions all we want in the LGBT media, but until it goes mainstream in the larger media I fear that we are wasting our efforts. Full page ads in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and other major newspapers or links on their websites is what is truly needed. Here are highlights from The Advocate on the new website:
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Based on months of analysis and research drawn from public records, NOM Exposed was created to lay bare what the Washington, D.C.-based organization itself tries to hide through lawsuits like its recent challenges to disclosure laws in Rhode Island, New York, and Florida. The site reveals the deep-pocketed donors, such as the Catholic Church and the Mormon Church, that have helped the organization amass almost $10 million in the three years since it burst onto the scene with the Proposition 8 battle in California. NOM Exposed also monitors the organization’s current campaigns to defeat equality in states including but not limited to California, New Hampshire, New York, Minnesota, and Iowa.
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Among the findings of NOM Exposed, according to a news release from HRC and the Courage Campaign:
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- NOM is a highly secretive organization that not only tries to hide the identity of its political donors from the voting public in state after state but operates in a way to discourage people from knowing who its key players and associates are.
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- NOM has deep connections to the Catholic Church hierarchy, to the Mormon Church, to evangelical right-wing pastors and churches, and to those who have a long history of antigay rhetoric and activity. These are individuals and organizations that oppose not only same-sex marriage but domestic partnerships, civil unions, hate-crimes protections, and even fertility treatments for women because some of those women could be lesbians.
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- Since 2008, NOM and its allies have engaged in a radical nationwide plan to flout long-established campaign finance disclosure laws. This is nothing short of a strategic, coordinated plan to hide NOM's political activities from voters. This effort has prompted several state investigations and resounding legal defeats for NOM.
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Like the majority of the professional Christian organizations today (such as The Family Foundation here in Virginia), NOM's principal stock in trade is lies and subterfuge. These groups and their leadership make the sleaziest prostitutes look downright virtuous.

Be All That You Can Be … Except Gay

It has long been my belief that the true purpose behind DADT - and all anti-gay measures for that matter - is to denigrate and marginalize gays for the simple reason that we reject the Christian/Christianist religious belief that same sex love and relations are sinful. DADT is legalized religious discrimination, plan and simple, and its continued existence as the law of the land makes a mockery of the U. S. Constitution. I stumbled upon an op-ed in the Arizona Daily Wildcat (the student paper of the University of Arizona) by Storm Byrd, a sophomore majoring in political science, that did a great job summing up such anti-gay discrimination. Here are some highlights that John McCain would do well to read and learn from:

The anti-homosexuality measure [DADT] has been legitimizing homophobia since 1993, and it's about time the abomination be disregarded. The notion that sexual orientation interferes with one's ability to command officers in military service is absolutely ludicrous.
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The rationale for the policy is that if openly homosexual persons are serving together, it could be difficult for service members to stay dedicated to their jobs. But military branches pride themselves on their professionalism. Why is the military hesitant to trust that their soldiers can't maintain an expected level of professionalism and restraint? Do the military branches have that little faith in their service members - those men and women who claim to "be all they can be"?
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The fact of the matter is that the military, along with many other American institutions, are firm investors in the idea that homosexuality somehow leads to uncontrollable, deviant sexual behavior. At some point in our history, the general opinion of homosexuality became that gay men and women somehow cannot control their sexuality and will inevitably just be running around having sexual encounters left and right. By this rule, a homosexual has no sense of professionalism or any personal restraint. It's almost as if to say that being openly homosexual is some sort of personally detrimental disorder or disease. Of course, this couldn't be further from the truth.
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What can so obviously be concluded is that the "don't ask, don't tell" policy is solely enacted in the name of exploiting the efforts of homosexuals, while not embracing them fully as a people. Essentially, the message is this: Yes, you can die for this country; no, you can't expect to be treated the same as all of our straight officers if we find out that you're gay.

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The younger generations increasingly recognize the utter idiocy of legalized discrimination against LGBT Americans. Homophobia is one of the fruits of religious bigotry and it needs to be eradicated.

Atheists, Agnostics Most Knowledgeable About Religion

With Christianist working daily to inflict their toxic and intolerant religious beliefs on all U.S. citizens, it's a bit unnerving to find that the Christofascists often don't even know what the Hell they are talking about when they blather about religion. That's what a new Pew U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey suggests. So what group is the most knowledgeable on religious dogma and beliefs? It's atheists and agnostics who score the highest it comes to accurate knowledge about religion. On second thought, however, given the increased embrace of ignorance that seems to be a requirement of today's Christianity - think about the rejection of modernity displayed by the leaders of the Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists, not to mention the creationists just for starters - perhaps the survey's findings should not be surprising after all. Here are some highlights from the Los Angeles Times:
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If you want to know about God, you might want to talk to an atheist. Heresy? Perhaps. But a survey that measured Americans' knowledge of religion found that atheists and agnostics knew more, on average, than followers of most major faiths. In fact, the gaps in knowledge among some of the faithful may give new meaning to the term "blind faith."
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Four in 10 Catholics misunderstood the meaning of their church's central ritual, incorrectly saying that the bread and wine used in Holy Communion are intended to merely symbolize the body and blood of Christ, not actually become them.
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So why would an atheist know more about religion than a Christian? American atheists and agnostics tend to be people who grew up in a religious tradition and consciously gave it up, often after a great deal of reflection and study, said Alan Cooperman, associate director for research at the Pew Forum. "These are people who thought a lot about religion," he said. "They're not indifferent. They care about it."
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Stephen Prothero, a professor of religion at Boston University and author of "Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know -- And Doesn't," served as an advisor on the survey. "I think in general the survey confirms what I argued in the book, which is that we know almost nothing about our own religions and even less about the religions of other people," he said.
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He said he found it significant that Mormons, who are not considered Christians by many fundamentalists, showed greater knowledge of the Bible than evangelical Christians.
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I'd venture a guess that many LGBT Americans likewise know more about religion that many of the self-congratulatory devout. Like atheists and agnostics, many of us have had to engage in reflection and study to overcome the emotional and psychological harm inflicted on us by our religious upbringings.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

More Tuesday Male Beauty

Obama Bashes Party Base for Demanding Accountability

A new article in Rolling Stone reports on an interview with Barack Obama. From his comments, Obama apparently isn't satisfied with all he has done so far to demoralize the Democratic Party base and suppress the voter turn out on November 2, 2010. Obama's analysis is that progressives and activists are too impatient. He then goes on to claim that he's delivered on 70% of his campaign promises- obviously, he's looking at some list the rest of us have never seen. Here's some highlights of our "fierce advocate's" statements on LGBT and progressive issues:
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I've been here two years, guys. And one of the things that I just try to remember is that if we have accomplished 70 percent of what we committed to in the campaign, historic legislation, and we've got 30 percent of it undone — well, that's what the next two years is for, or maybe the next six.
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Understandably, everybody has a great sense of urgency about these issues. But one of the things that I constantly want to counsel my friends is to keep the long view in mind. On social issues, something like "don't ask, don't tell." Here, I've got the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff both committed to changing the policy. That's a big deal.
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So I don't think it's too much to ask, to say "Let's do this in an orderly way" — to ensure, by the way, that gays and lesbians who are serving honorably in our armed forces aren't subject to harassment and bullying and a whole bunch of other stuff once we implement the policy. I use that as an example because on each of these areas, even those where we did not get some grand legislative victory, we have made progress. We have moved in the right direction.
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One closing remark that I want to make: It is inexcusable for any Democrat or progressive right now to stand on the sidelines in this midterm election. There may be complaints about us not having gotten certain things done, not fast enough, making certain legislative compromises. . . . The idea that we've got a lack of enthusiasm in the Democratic base, that people are sitting on their hands complaining, is just irresponsible. . . . We have to get folks off the sidelines. People need to shake off this lethargy, people need to buck up.
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To me, Obama's real message is "shut the f*ck up and keep giving my guys your votes and your money. And don't you even dare think about holding me/us accountable." Needless to say, I am not the only one who feels that it's Obama who ought to shut the f*ck up and deliver on promises. He's demonstrated that he's a liar. And when it comes to LGBT issues, he obviously doesn't give a damn. Pam Spaulding lets looseon Obama and the White House here and here. John Aravosis vents here. DailyKos founder Markos Moulitsas had the following to say:
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"They [the White House] wouldn't be in this predicament if they delivered on their campaign promises, rather than waste the last two years putting bipartisanship above action."
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Perhaps the best summary comes from a quote from Howard Dean in a Sam Stein Post in Huffington Post:
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"I'm not looking to pick another fight with Rahm Emanuel, but the contempt with which he held the progressive wing of the party was devastating and incredibly demoralizing," Dean said. "That's basically saying to your own people -- you got us here, now FU."
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If the Democrats are decimated on November 2, 2010, the rout can be explained in two words: Barack Obama.

Slim Majority of US Citizens Approve Same-Sex Marriage

In yet another sign that long term the tide of history is on the side of gay marriage equality, a new Associated Press-National Constitution Center poll found that 52% of Americans approve of same sex marriage. Message to Far Right Republicans: if you don't get with it, you are committing long term political suicide. In the interim, we can expect even more unbridled hysteria from the Christianist who are slowly but steadily losing the anti-gay culture war. Fifty eight percent of respondents said same sex couple should have the same rights as heterosexual couples. Tony Perkins and Maggie Gallagher must be wetting themselves over these poll results. Here are brief highlights from Pink News:
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An Associated Press-National Constitution Center poll has found that a majority of Americans now think the federal government should recognise same-sex marriages. Asked, "Should the federal government give legal recognition to marriages between couples of the same sex, or not?" 52 percent of respondents said "yes," 46 percent said "no" and 2 percent were unsure.
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The poll also asked, "Should couples of the same sex be entitled to the same government benefits as married couples of the opposite sex, or should the government distinguish between them?" Fifty-eight percent said benefits should be equalized, 38 percent said they should not be, 3 percent were unsure and 1 percent refused to answer the question.
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"For the second time, a national poll shows that a majority of Americans support the freedom to marry, reflecting the growing momentum of the marriage movement," said Freedom to Marry Executive Director Evan Wolfson. "Echoing the findings of last month's CNN poll, the Associated Press poll shows that those who would deny liberty and equal protection to same-sex couples are now in the minority."