Saturday, June 18, 2016
UPDATED: Unlike the Virginian Pilot, local channel TV-13 was at the same event I was at yesterday and notes among other things that THOUSANDS attended the event. The link to the story is here.
|American Rover - Pride parade of sail 2016|
Today at Pride Fest 2016 was amazing. Despite the Virginian Pilot's current headline that "hundreds attend Pride" - once again the publication shows an anti-gay bias despite occasional pro-gay editorials and that a member of the Batten family was a sponsor of the event - the reality was that this year's event was by far the largest ever and it wasn't hundreds attending, but rather thousands and thousands of people. The husband and I began the day aboard the American Rover (pictured above as it came along the Town Point Park waterfront) for the Pride boat parade (the only one in America) which was the last vessel in the parade.
In the wake of the Orlando massacre, security was significantly increased with both Norfolk Police and Virginia State Police officers in plentiful view. In addition, police has roof top surveillance and Coast Guard boats patrolled the harbor - one actually transported Pride Grand Marshall, Mercedes Douglas at the head of the boat parade. It was quite an image: a drag queen in full regalia aboard a vessel armed with machine guns. Talk about not piss a drag queen off!
On the main stage one of the "headliners" was gay country musician Billy Gillman who gave a great performance. Gillman, who came out as gay in 2014, has a great voice and is relatively easy on the eyes, with a tight body. He was followed by Australian singer Betty Who - who had performed at Orlando Pride a week prior to the tragedy at Pulse - who likewise gave a great performance.
|View from the VIP/sponsor tent - police atop the building in the background|
As for the weather, it was absolutely perfect. If there was anything negative about the day, it was the small group of Christofascist protesters who police kept out of Town Point Park. Taking a brief look at them, it's safe to say that they looked like a total losers who obviously suffer from a form of mental illness that drives them to condemn those who are different or who question their fairy tale based beliefs and their celebration of hate and ignorance. But for these low life types the crowd was happy, peaceful and very well behaved. In short, it was a totally wonderful day.
The 2016 Pride sponsors who included the husband and myself. Again, note Newport News Shipbuilding as a presenting sponsor. Times are truly changing and the Christofascists and gay haters are coming closer and closer to being thrown on the trash heap of history where they belong.
As noted in prior posts, I urged voters to vote against Randy Forbes - a former law school classmate - and then celebrated his primary loss to Scott Taylor. Forbes' principal "contributions" in Congress were Christofascist backed batshitery. Americans for the Separation of Church and State has a rundown of the lunacy and in some cases arguably unconstitutional measures that always received Forbes' support. Here are some highlights:
A staunch Religious Right ally will soon be leaving Congress after he suffered a primary defeat on Tuesday.
After 15 years in office, U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) was defeated 53 percent to 41 percent by a Republican challenger despite outspending his opponent almost 10-1. Forbes is partly the victim of redistricting; he switched to a new district this year after the makeup of his old one changed in favor of Democrats.
We won’t exactly be sorry to see Forbes go. While in office, he regularly did the Religious Right’s bidding.
In 2009, Forbes backed a resolution that outlined “73 milestones of spirituality and faith in the United States.” The measure also recognized what he claimed were “the religious foundations of faith” that “form the inseparable foundation for America’s representative processes, legal systems and societal structures.”
At Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Conference in Washington, D.C., in 2010 Forbes peddled bad history. He claimed America was intended to be an officially “Christian nation” as evidenced by instances when our government eroded the church-state wall, including the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1892 decision in Holy Trinity v. United States. Of course he failed to mention that the Holy Trinity decision is a legal anomaly. It has rarely been cited by other courts, and the “Christian nation” declaration made in the opinion for that case appeared in dicta, which is a legal term meaning writing that reflects a judge’s personal opinion, not a mandate of the law.
In 2011, Forbes sponsored a resolution that reaffirmed “In God We Trust” as the official motto of the United States and encouraged its display in public spaces.
Forbes is also heavily involved with the Congressional Prayer Caucus.
It’s no wonder, then, that Forbes was endorsed by the anti-gay Family Research Council (FRC) right before his defeat.
Meanwhile, state Del. Scott Taylor (R-Virginia Beach) will face Democrat Shaun Brown, a businesswoman who has not previously held elected office, in the November election. We don’t know what the outcome of that race will be, but the winner would have to work really hard to top Forbes’ record on mixing church and state.
I frequently note that living one's life "out and proud" is one of the most powerful forms of activism that we in the LGBT community can do. Making people realize that we are not the ugly stereotypes that the "godly folk" like to disseminate can and does change hearts and minds - at least among decent, thinking people. One way of doing this is to go to Pride events which in some ways are true acts of rebellion and well as opportunities to celebrate solidarity. I'm sure that many in the straight community do not understand because they are part of the all too often oppressive majority. The husband and I will attend Pride Fest today, both to celebrate with friends, but also to be visible and send a message that we will not be intimidated and we are here and never going to slink back into invisibility. An op-ed in the New York Times expresses this mindset. Here are excerpts:
June is pride month around the country, and it will continue to be. This weekend, celebrations will take place in Portland, Ore., and Chicago. The weekend after in New York City and San Francisco. All pride parades happen in defiance of people who want the L.G.B.T. community to be scared and ashamed. Most years those people are just parents who won’t talk to you about your personal life; for a decade it was a plague the government wouldn’t fight because they thought gay men deserved it. This year we thought it would be politicians trying to make going to the bathroom impossible for trans people. Now, after a massacre, it is more than that. But every Pride parade is an act of rebellion. And our preferred form of rebellion is getting drunk, sweaty, loud and naked.Before the parade last weekend, my friends and I talked about Orlando, we talked about gun violence, we talked about horrible things politicians had posted, then deleted. There were rainbow streamers and inflatable unicorns and the flat knowledge that 49 people had been executed the night before for being gay. We walked the half block down to the parade, and it was alive. Go-go boys on fire trucks, Dykes on Bikes, serried ranks of L.G.B.T. Methodists mixed with dance music and light inebriation into a good time. It got better.
Our reaction wasn’t somber. We didn’t cancel the parade. We had fun. That is what gay people do. Every gay, trans or lesbian adult I know had to fight hard against family and social training to be an out, proud person. Our answer to loss and indignity, it seems, is to give a party, have a parade, and celebrate bits of happiness.
The uprising at Stonewall, our most famous civil rights moment, happened at a bar. It wasn’t noble or solemn, it was drunk, surly, and there were sequins involved. Those trans women and drag queens didn’t just stage a polite protest about repealing sodomy laws or cross-dressing prohibitions. They fought back against a police force invading our bar, the one place where the simple right to get a vodka soda and make out with a cute gay girl or boy in peace was something we could take for granted. It may seem frivolous, but when society has denied you dignity, honesty and safety, frivolity is all you’ve got.
And frivolity still comes through. When I logged into Grindr, a gay hookup app, on Sunday night, I was first greeted with a pop-up that let me know where and how I could help victims of the Pulse shootings.
It’s a dark, cruel joke, but ours is a culture that is not unfamiliar with darkness and cruelty. When people kill us, pass laws against us, make cheap jokes about us, they aren’t actually saying all gay people should die. They’re saying all L.G.B.T. people should know our place, live in silence, lie about who we are. Societal homophobia wants us to be ashamed, and finds ways to punish us if we refuse. The greatest gay rebellion is honest expression of our truth.
When word surfaced that the Orlando shooter had frequented gay bars and dating apps, some speculated that he might have been doing research to plan his attack. Gay people understood the other very real possibility, that the attacker might be a man with homosexual desires whom society had filled with so much secret shame that he would do anything to prove his distance from the gay world. It’s a tragic, complex truth that means however revolting I find him, I also have sympathy for the ways shame and the inability to live honestly may have twisted this man into a murderer.
The people who were at Pulse nightclub in Orlando on Saturday made the choice to be out and gay, and they paid a horrible price for it. The people who were out in West Hollywood on Sunday, and who will come out around the country this month, were there for all the L.G.B.T. people before us who suffered and struggled to be out and honest, and we did it with pride.
|click image to enlarge|
Last night's Pride block party - the main lead off to today's Pride Fest in Norfolk's Town Point Park - was an amazing success with over five thousand people attending the event which was held in Norfolk's Scope. Yes, it was a party (a very good one) but it recognized the fact that LGBT Americans and LGBT Virginians more so than some others remain subject to constant attacks and denigration by politicians seeking to whip up support or to prostitute themselves to the ugliest elements of the Christian Right. The event also honored the dead and wounded in Orlando after a hate motivated attack where once again religion played a disgusting role. One amazing aspect of Pride events this year is that America's premier shipbuilder, Newport News Shipbuilding, builder of America's nuclear carrier fleet, is one of the presenting sponsors. In its lead editorial yesterday, the Virginian Pilot called for politicians - i.e., Republicans - to end their politically motivated attacks on LGBT Americans. Here are editorial highlights:
While the nation mourns the loss of lives in Orlando, the pain remains especially acute and visceral for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.
The shooter chose his target specifically because it was an LGBT-friendly nightclub. The victims were overwhelmingly members of this community. Evidence now suggests that the killer — married twice — may have been uncomfortably on the periphery of that same world.
Living as targets of violence and hatred, being victims of sometimes murderous intolerance, is nothing new for gay Americans. History is replete with instances of gays and lesbians brutalized for who they are or marginalized for political expediency.
Consider this an opportunity for America to do better.
[T]his specific horror represents the confluence of a great many political and social issues, and proposed solutions inspire overheated debate.
So here’s one straightforward suggestion: The nation, especially elected leaders with powerful positions of influence, should take this opportunity to affirm the equality of LGBT Americans — and stop using them as a target for political gain.
Until relatively recently, most LGBT Americans lived in the shadows, fearing the repercussions of being who they are. They feared ostracization and consequences legal, financial and physical due only to their sexual preference or gender identity.
That began to change with the Stonewall riots of 1969, generally considered the beginning of the modern LGBT movement. But, as with most civil rights movements, the transition to acceptance was achingly slow, replete with setbacks and suffering.
It wasn’t until 2003 that the Supreme Court struck down a Texas law prohibiting certain types of intimate, consensual sex — though many such statutes remain on the books.
Over the years, dog-whistle and direct attacks on gay people have fueled successful presidential campaigns and turned state legislatures. Even same-sex marriage, settled by the U.S. Supreme Court last year, remains a flashpoint in many states, especially across the South, and especially in places where politicians think it gives them some advantage.
Republicans in North Carolina are hoping to tread this same homophobic path in the coming general election, fearful of a voter backlash against retrograde policies and nanny-state meddling in matters of the heart and bedroom. They once again intend to use gay people as a political tool for re-election.
Such nonsense has to stop. The laws, the politicking, the dog-whistles and gutter rhetoric. LGBT citizens are, first and foremost, Americans, deserving of equal protection under the law and all the rights endowed to them by the Constitution.
[T]hose who employ these cynical and divisive attacks should be condemned for doing so — and those who respond favorably to such prejudice should be ashamed. Demonizing LGBT citizens has no place in our politics, and all who seek public office should recognize that, now more than ever.
This message, of course, will fall on deaf ears among Republicans and the Christofascists.
Friday, June 17, 2016
It's Pride weekend here in Hampton Roads, Virginia and wonderful events are planned that will go on despite the horror that occurred last weekend in Orlando, Yes, the police presence will be significantly increased and local offices of federal offices will likely be involved. Yet again, among the information/recruiting booths on Saturday's main event will be the CIA. Times have truly changed in some ways, but in others, much needs to be done. Today, the June issue of VEER Magazine hits the streets and includes my column on "Pride and Understanding LGBT History." I hope you will check it out. Here are brief excerpts:
June is Pride month and once again Hampton Roads Pride Fest will take place in downtown Norfolk’s Town Point Park. This year’s event is on June 18. The event now rivals the largest festivals in Norfolk and some have said that only Harbor Fest is larger. When I first came out in mid-life, few could have envisioned how mainstream, if you will, the LGBT community has become. Back then, same sex relationships could get you a felony conviction under Virginia’s sodomy statute. My first Pride event was in 2003 and the venue was a hidden back portion of Lakewood Park. Perhaps a few hundred were in attendance. Fast forward to 2016, and the crowd this year could approach 20,000 people. Pride is a time to be proud about one’s self, but also about LGBT individuals across the globe and throughout time.
This sea change in acceptance and visibility did not happen overnight and much work still remains to be done in Virginia and across America, not to mention across the globe. Yes, through Supreme Court decisions and hard fought legislative victories, the sodomy laws used to persecute gays in Virginia are no more, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is now on the trash heap of history and same sex marriage is legal across the nation. But, employment non-discrimination protections, housing non-discrimination and other protections remain non-existent under Virginia law and in roughly 28 other states. Organizations such as Hampton Roads Business Outreach (“HRBOR”), the local gay and gay friendly chamber of commerce, HR Pride, and Equality Virginia continue to strive for full LGBT equality in the business community and under Virginia’s civil laws.
Indeed, members of the LGBT community are everywhere, in every culture and throughout history. Peruse a page and Wikipedia on “LGBT history” and one quickly sees that be it ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, ancient Rome, pre-Columbian America, Persia, Japan, China and even India, same sex relations were tolerated, if not always fully accepted. Just a few notable LGBT individuals from history as compiled by The Bilerico Project . . .A wonderful source to learn more of this hidden history is a book entitled “The Origins and Role of Same-Sex Relations in Human Societies,” the end product of over ten years of historical research. My husband and I received a copy as a gift from is two friends – both historians – who gave a dinner party us as a “wedding gift.” As noted above, the book concludes that acceptance of homosexuality and bisexuality on the part of much of society historically have been the norm – just as it is in many other parts of the animal kingdom – and that it was the rise of the Roman Catholic Church that lead to homophobia as we know it today.
So how did this happen? In a nutshell, the Catholic Church’s bizarre abhorrence of all things sexual that developed in the Middle Ages that was spearheaded by so-called Church fathers who were obsessed with all things sexual, and who were, in my view, mentally disturbed to say the least.
Thankfully, this religious based tide of animus and ignorance is subsiding, but horrors continue to be inflicted on LGBT individuals by both “godly Christians” and Islamic fundamentalists. Meanwhile, those of us fortunate enough to live in America and Hampton Roads have much to be proud about and can look at our history with pride. If you have never attended, consider coming to Pride Fest.
Once upon a time the Republican Party claimed that it was the party of principle and morality. Now, with a dangerous, narcissistic buffoon as its presumptive nominee, such claims are little more than a fantasy of days gone by. In Trump, the GOP has found a presumptive nominee who has no principles other than self-promotion, constant boasting, and nasty attacks on those who don't bow down and worship him. The ultimate irony, as I have pointed out before, is that this hideous transformation of the GOP has been fueled by the rise of the Christofascists within the GOP. A column in the Washington Post by a conservative columnist bemoans the GOP's utter abandonment of character. Here are highlights:
Since Thomas Jefferson’s concubine, Warren Harding’s love nest and Bill Clinton’s innovative intern program, Americans have debated the role of character in leadership. But the concept of character has often been defined too narrowly. Sexual ethics — involving a range of behaviors from doomed longing to cruel exploitation — is a part of it, but not the largest part. “The sins of the flesh are bad,” wrote C.S. Lewis, “but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronizing and spoiling sport, and back-biting; the pleasures of power, of hatred.”
Republicans are beginning to see that the main problem with their presumptive nominee is not his lack of basic knowledge or his inability to stay on the script of sanity for 10 minutes at a time. The problem is Donald Trump’s public character, which no amount of last-minute coaching can change.
Trump’s instincts were on full display in his reaction to the Orlando terrorist attack. There was a pronounced lack of empathy for victims. There was a resort to insanely partisan conspiracy theories — including insinuations that President Obama is the Manchurian Muslim.
Trump’s resulting pronouncements — doubling down on immigration restrictions and raising questions about the loyalty of American Muslims — are counterproductive to the task of counterterrorism, undermining domestic cooperation on homeland security and complicating relations with allies and proxies. This is just terrible policy. But it is Trump’s moral worldview that results in terrible policy and promises worse to come. He believes that events always vindicate his instincts, which involve racial, religious and ethnic prejudice. . . . And he holds a Putin-like conception of how a great power should behave.
The presumptive Republican nominee has already proposed the largest police operation (by far) in American history — the rounding up of more than 11 million people and forcing them across the border. What limiting principle would prevent a roundup of all Muslims? Trump has already proposed the murder of terrorists’ families. What is the limiting principle that would prevent his use of nuclear weapons against the Islamic State capital of Raqqa?
What limiting principle would prevent President Trump from targeting congressional opponents with innuendo that they are traitors or murderers, or any other accusation that Alex Jones puts on the Web? Trump has already proposed changing libel laws in order to restrict media criticism against him. What limiting principle would prevent him from, well, changing libel laws to restrict media criticism against him?
None of this is reductio ad absurdum. These are the natural implications of a worldview. Under the stress of events, it is clear that Trump’s organizing commitments are ethnic nationalism and a belief that the American government is too weak — too constrained by political correctness — in dealing with threats to American identity. He is riding the line between clownishness and fascism.
Republicans may go into the Cleveland convention with the worst case of buyer’s remorse in American political history. . . . But a party convention is an up-or-down moment. Will they allow the balloons to drop on a leader with a broken moral compass? Or will they try to change the convention rules — perhaps to require a supermajority in picking a nominee — in an act of desperate resistance? Either way, Republicans are learning the hard way that character counts.
|Trump at an anti-gay hate group gathering|
Outside the tiny circles of homocons - many of whom, in my opinion suffer from severe cases of internalized homophobia and whether they admit it or not are self-loathing - the LGBT community thinks little positive about Donald Trump. Yet in a typical delusion Trump claims that gays love him and that he'd be "better for gays" than Hillary Clinton. How he reaches that insane conclusion as he talks of reversing the Obergefell marriage decision and plans next week to pander to 400 of the most vile anti-LGBT Christofascist leaders is beyond dumbfounding. A piece in The Daily Beast looks at Trump's narcissistic delusions and the reality of what the vast majority of the LGBT community thinks of Trump. Here are excerpts:
The orange stripe in the gay flag symbolizes healing. At this rate, Donald Trump will be claiming that it stands for him by the end of the week.This Tuesday, two days after the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, the presumptive GOP nominee inexplicably thanked the LGBT community on Twitter. It didn’t take long for LGBT Twitter users to respond in kind with the hashtag #LGBTQHatesTrumpParty.
Because while most Americans don’t like Donald Trump, LGBT people despise him.
Based on his tweet, Trump seemed to be under the impression that the mass shooting had convinced a sizable number of LGBT people to support his proposed temporary ban on Muslims entering the country.
LGBT social media users quickly disabused him of that notion with witty replies and, of course, a flood of GIFs: GIFs of Tyra Banks, GIFs of Tyler Oakley, and, of course, GIFs of RuPaul.
There’s more proof than a few thousand tweets that LGBT Americans loathe the Republican candidate for president.
According to May Gallup polling, Trump has a favorability rating of just 18 percent among LGBT people as compared to Hillary Clinton’s 54 percent rating with the same demographic. This gap between them is one of the widest, surpassed only by Trump’s large deficits among non-white and Muslim voters.
Another May poll indicated that more than four out of five LGBT voters would rather pull the lever for Clinton.
In true Trump fashion, his sudden concern for the safety LGBT Americans comes after years of mocking them and opposing their rights. Indeed, the LGBT animus against Trump runs so deep because it has been so long in the making.
It’s easy to list off Trump’s most memorable displays of homophobia. For example, in a2011 New York Times interview, Trump compared his stance on same-sex marriage to his “traditionalist” attitudes about golf putter size. The bizarre analogy implied that gay men and lesbians were “weird.”
In 2014, as Gawker reminded its readers on Tuesday, Trump reacted badly when Michael Sam made NFL history as the first openly gay NFL draftee. He had some particularly choice thoughts about the celebratory kiss Sam shared with then-boyfriend Vito Cammisano, telling Fox & Friends that the football player was “really going at it.”
And, in what should by now be familiar rhetoric, Trump complained that the “country is going to hell” because homophobes were “afraid to express their own thoughts” about the lip-lock because we’re too “politically correct.”
The Trump campaign has been somewhat murky on same-sex marriage, too. In January, he told Fox News that he would “strongly consider” appointing Supreme Court judges to overturn Obergefell v. Hodges. But as Politico reported Wednesday, some gay Republican advocates now see a Trump White House as an opportunity to soften their party’s stance on same-sex marriage.
While it may not be certain what a President Trump would do on LGBT issues, the things that he has said about LGBT people are crystal clear. It seems unlikely that a demographic that already hates him—and that he has spent years offending—would turn to him now for protection.
As noted at the outset, the only gays I know who support Trump have serious internalized homophobia issues and most insanely continue to attend anti-gay churches where their very being is maligned repeatedly. To me, it's a form of sick masochism.
Thursday, June 16, 2016
I grew up in a relatively conservative Republican home where we regularly attended Roman Catholic Church services. I was very Catholic and served as an altar boy fro age 8 to 17 (I had just turned 18 when I started college) and went on to become a 4th Degree Knight of Columbus as I desperately tried to "pray away the gay." That said, while my religious upbringing was virulently anti-gay as was the norm back in those days - actually, it still is if one is raised Catholic - my parents were not homophobic. Indeed, it was only in later years I figured out that one of my maternal great aunts by marriage had a gay brother who was partnered for roughly 40 years. This gay couple were part of our extended family for all of my youth and first years of college. Their relationship was never discussed around us children, but was totally accepted by my parents and aunts and uncles and grand parents.
Despite this surprisingly enlightened mindset, my religious upbringing nonetheless wreaked havoc on me emotionally and psychologically. In the wake of the horrific massacre in Orlando over the past weekend, there is much speculation over the mindset of the shooter who killed 49 innocent people. The facts as known to date suggest perhaps toxic influences from ISIS propaganda were a motivation for the bloodbath, yet on the other hand, given the emerging facts about the shooter's exposure to fundamentalist Muslim beliefs and his homophobic father, some believe that internalized homophobia might also have been in play. A piece in the Washington Post looks at the damage done to LGBT individuals raised in anti-gay homes and the role that this might have played in the tragedy in Orlando. Here are excerpts:
Imagine growing up hearing from those you love and trust that certain groups of people are evil. In fact, these people are so bad, so wrong, that God himself will punish them. Imagine absorbing this hatred deep into your bones. Imagine that you then discover, at some point in your adolescence, that you are one of these people. They are the hated. You are the hated.
We don’t know the details of Omar Mateen’s sexuality. Perhaps he did not fully understand. But according to some, Mateen expressed romantic interest in men. A classmate from his 2006 police academy class told the “Palm Beach Post” that Mateen had asked him out. Sometimes, after class, Mateen would go with friends to gay nightclubs, the classmate said.
We will never understand what triggered Mateen. But there is abundant evidence that the prejudice we face is toxic. And when anti-gay prejudice comes from parents or religion, the effect is profound. According to University of Tennessee Knoxville psychology professor Dawn Szymanski, research shows that experiencing rejection from parents of your sexual identity is linked to traumatic internalized negativity – what psychologists call “internalized homonegativity” or “internalized stigma.” The same is true when a person belongs to a religion that rejects homosexuality.
One consequence of this internalized stigma is violence: Studies of same-sex couples show that internalized homophobia is significant predictor of violence within a relationship. Self-hatred also creates profound psychological distress: One meta-analysis found that higher levels of internalized anti-gay stigma were correlated with worse mental health. The psychological distress can include anxiety, depression, poor self-esteem and hyperarousal – a state of increased tension that includes irritability, anger and aggression.
Anti-gay prejudice is especially pernicious because it creeps into the intimacy of one’s own family. For other forms of bias – racism, for example, or prejudice based on one’s religion — the family can be a refuge against the hatred of the outside world. But anti-gay prejudice is different. The hatred comes from not outsiders, but from loved ones. Parents’ rejection of their children is the one of the biggest reasons as many as 40 percent of homeless youths are LGBT.
Politicians will continue to use “radical Islam” as a culprit. But it’s not clear that Mateen was motivated by ideology; indeed, he claimed to support a jumble of groups with conflicting points of view. On the other hand, his ex-wife told CNN, “It doesn’t surprise me that he was leading two totally different lives and was in such deep conflict within himself.”
Imagine a young person sitting in his congregation, listening. Imagine this young person absorbing that certain people deserve to die because of who they are. Now imagine that child growing up to discover that he is gay. He, too, deserves to die. Imagine the chaos and self-hatred growing inside his heart.
The root cause, of course, of anti-gay beliefs is religion, especially Abrahamic religions. The same religions that over the centuries have lead the the deaths and stigmatization of millions of people. As I have said before, religion is a pernicious evil that needs to be eradicated.
Even as America's Republican leaders remain akin to Neanderthals when it comes to the acceptance and treatment of LGBT individuals, "across the pond" in the United Kingdom, attitudes are changing much more rapidly for the better. Indeed, Prince William, second in line to the British throne, is on the cover of the latest issue of Attitude, a gay magazine. The BBC looks at this milestone. Here are excerpts (note William's pro-LGBT and anti-bullying statements):
The Duke of Cambridge has become the first member of the Royal Family to appear on the cover of a gay magazine.He spoke to Attitude about the issue of homophobic bullying, saying: "No-one should be bullied for their sexuality or any other reason."
The duke invited the magazine to bring members of the LGBT community to Kensington Palace to discuss bullying and its mental health repercussions.
Kensington Palace said William had been "moved" by the stories he heard. William said that "no-one should have to put up with the kind of hate that these young people have endured in their lives".
The duke told the magazine: "The young gay, lesbian and transgender individuals I met through Attitude are truly brave to speak out and to give hope to people who are going through terrible bullying right now.
"Their sense of strength and optimism should give us all encouragement to stand up to bullying wherever we see it.
"What I would say to any young person reading this who's being bullied for their sexuality: don't put up with it - speak to a trusted adult, a friend, a teacher, Childline, Diana Award or some other service and get the help you need. "You should be proud of the person you are and you have nothing to be ashamed of."
The photograph of a smiling prince on the cover of a gay magazine is a sign of William's willingness to embrace the diverse nature of British society. It's also a reminder that the monarchy is an institution that can evolve.
In the late 1980s, Diana, Princess of Wales would visit people who had Aids or leprosy. Her former bodyguard, Ken Wharfe, told the Diana inquest that the Queen had asked why the princess didn't get involved "with something more pleasant".
Three decades on, her son is highlighting the work being done against bullying and in support of removing the stigma surrounding mental health.
Kudos to William!Another striking aspect of this interview is that William is a future king. As things stand, one day he'll be head of state of the UK and 15 other countries - some of which discriminate against gay people.
While many continue to feel shock and express their horror over Sunday's murder of 49 mostly young LGBT men in Orlando - for most Republicans, it's, of course, only lip service - the fact remains that LGBT individuals remain disproportionately targeted for hate crimes. Sadly, it should be no surprise when conservative religious denominations, including the anti-gay Roman Catholic Church, continue to depict us as a threat to marriage or even society itself. And in places like Hampton Roads, Virginia, the transition of police from those to be feared to protectors of the LGBT community is a recent transformation. Just 13 years ago I myself and activist Wayne Besen were stopped and harassed by Norfolk police officers as we were headed to The Wave, a local LGBT dance club - the officers involved made it clear by their words and behavior that they viewed harassing "faggots" to be great sport. A piece in the New York Times looks at the sad reality that if one is LGBT, vigilance is always necessary. Here are highlights:
Even before the shooting rampage at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people were already the most likely targets of hate crimes in America, according to an analysis of data collected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.L.G.B.T. people are twice as likely to be targeted as African-Americans, and the rate of hate crimes against them has surpassed that of crimes against Jews.
Politicians have been divided on how to define the Orlando tragedy. President Obama called it both “an act of terror and and an act of hate.” But some Republican officials have refused to acknowledge that it could be considered a hate crime.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, has omitted any mention of gays when talking about the massacre, and Representative Pete Sessions of Texas has said the site of the shooting was not a gay club.
According to a CBS News poll released on Wednesday, however, most Americans call the attack both a hate crime and terrorism. And the nightclub, Pulse, on its Twitter account, billed itself as “Orlando’s premier gay ultra lounge, nightclub and bar.”
Nearly a fifth of the 5,462 so-called single-bias hate crimes reported to the F.B.I. in 2014 were because of the target’s sexual orientation, or, in some cases, their perceived orientation.
As the majority of society becomes more tolerant of L.G.B.T. people, some of those who are opposed to them become more radical, said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The flip side of marriage equality is that people who strongly oppose it find the shifting culture extremely disturbing, said Gregory M. Herek, a psychology professor at the University of California, Davis, who is an expert on anti-gay violence.
Finding accurate statistics about hate crimes targeting L.G.B.T. people is challenging, in part, because victims — fearful of outing themselves to family members or employers — might choose not to report an attack, Mr. Herek said.
A recent report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that most crimes are not reported to the police, and those that are reported are frequently not classified as hate crimes by local jurisdictions.
A look at four years of homicides of L.G.B.T. people catalogued by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs shows that the vast majority of those who were killed were black or Hispanic transgender people.
There is a long history, particularly in the transgender community, of not being treated with respect by law enforcement, social service agencies and the legal system, said Roger Coggan, director of legal services at the Los Angeles L.G.B.T. Center.
“Unfortunately, we just have to accept the fact that stigma based on sexual orientation is still widespread,” Mr. Herek said. “Overcoming those prejudices is a lot of work.”
As the article implies, religion remains the driving force behind anti-LGBT hate crimes and discrimination. It goes without saying that the "godly folk" also dislike pretty much also all non-Christians even though they hold special animus towards those of us who are LGBT.
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
For those who have followed this blog for years, I suspect that you have discerned a growing disgust on my part with evangelical Christians who I increasingly view as some of the most selfish, self-centered, and often hate-filled individuals one can encounter in daily activities. The aftermath of the massacre at Pulse in Orlando finds countless members of the LGBT community shocked, in mourning and fighting back fear that copycat attacks might occur. Indeed, as the Georgia Voice reports:
The Atlanta Police Department confirmed they are investigating a gay Atlanta man who tweeted that he would make two local gay bars “the next Orlando.” . . . Brett Edgerton, going by the handle @BrettTEdgerton, tweeted the following: “TEN or Blake’s could be the next Orlando. You think I am the type to be the next ‘shooter’? Keep hating me then…”
So we worry for our lives and the lives of those we love, yet what are evangelicals whining about? Their declining ability to inflict their archaic, ignorance based religious beliefs on all of society. And perhaps the fact that they just might have to think for themselves and accept modern knowledge that increasingly shows the falsity of their beliefs. Here's a sampling of this misogyny:
Pastor Richie Clendenen stepped away from the pulpit, microphone in hand. He walked the aisles of the Christian Fellowship Church, his voice rising to describe the perils believers face in 21st-century America."The Bible says in this life you will have troubles, you will have persecutions. And Jesus takes it a step further: You'll be hated by all nations for my name's sake," he said. "Let me tell you," the minister said, "that time is here."
The faithful in the pews needed little convincing. Even in this deeply religious swath of western Kentucky — a state where about half the residents are evangelical — conservative Christians feel under siege.
For decades, they say, they have been steadily pushed to the sidelines of American life . . . . Religious conservatives could once count on their neighbors to at least share their view of marriage. Those days are gone. Public opinion on same-sex relationships turned against conservatives even before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide.
Now, many evangelicals say liberals want to seal their cultural victory by silencing the church. Liberals call this paranoid.
Clendenen, preaching on this recent Sunday, reflected on the chasm between his congregants and other Americans. "There's nobody hated more in this nation than Christians," he said, amid nods and cries of encouragement. "Welcome to America's most wanted: You."
For evangelicals like those at Christian Fellowship, the sense of a painful reckoning is not just imagined; their declining clout in public life can be measured. . . . a series of losses in church membership and in public policy battles, along with America's changing demographics, are weakening evangelical influence, even in some of the most conservative regions of the country.
Nearly a quarter of Americans say they no longer affiliate with a faith tradition. It's the highest share ever recorded in surveys . . . . Christians who have been only nominally tied to a conservative church are steadily dropping out altogether. . . . white evangelicals can't match the growth rate of groups that tend to support Democrats — Latinos, younger people and Americans with no religious affiliation.
"The idea of what we call biblical morality in our culture at large is completely laughed at and spurned as nonsense," said David Parish, a former pastor at Christian Fellowship and the son of its founder. "The church as an institution, as a public entity — we are moving more and more in conflict with the culture and with other agendas."
For so many decades these people have stigmatized others and made other people's lives Hell. Do I have any sympathy for these folks? No. Not one shred.
|Anti-LGBT Republican, Paul Ryan|
Remember all of the feigned messages of condolences from assorted Republicans in the wake of the Orlando massacre of gays on Sunday morning. While few allowed the words' "gay " or "LGBT" to cross their lips, they claimed to have the victims and their families in their thoughts and prayers. Today we saw just how insincere those words to the wounded and the families of those killed really were as Republicans in the House of Representatives blocked LGBT non-discrimination protections. These individuals truly are heinous. Here are excerpts from The Advocate on this effort to kick the LGBT community yet again as it morns its dead:
House Republicans blocked a vote on LGBT nondiscrimination protections just days after the deadliest shooting in mass history claimed the lives of 49 people at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub.
Following the horrific attack on the Florida gay bar, Democratic congressman Sean Maloney reintroduced an amendment to a defense spending bill that would prohibit the federal government from contracting with companies that discriminate against LGBT workers. Only 18 states have laws on the books that ban discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, and Maloney believes that this legislation would show the government’s support for the LGBT community at a crucial moment.
This is now the third time that Maloney’s LGBT amendment has been stonewalled by [Republicans in]Congress. On May 19, the GOP killed the legislation after it already had the votes to pass. In a last-minute maneuver, House Republicans coerced colleagues into switching their votes in order to ensure its failure. As the bill was voted down, Democrats chanted, “Shame! Shame! Shame!” on the House floor.
The legislation was reintroduced the following day. While the previous version was attached to a Veterans Affairs appropriations bill, this one was tied to a bill on energy and water spending. It again died.
|Former GOP Senator Larry Pressler|
Since I left the GOP many years ago, I hate to say it, but the party has become the personification of evil, especially in terms of pushing the hate and bigotry agenda of the Christofascists. Thankfully, some in the GOP seem to be belatedly waking up. One is former GOP U. S, Senator, Larry Pressler, a Mormon, who is endorsing Hillary Clinton as reported by Daily Kos:
After a weekend that forced us to confront the worst in humanity. After a night that brought us to grips with a personal crisis in our own DKos family. We see that one good man can stand up against the “Dark forces” that he sees griping the Senate in which he served for 18 years. Larry Pressler is a Mormon sunday school teacher who tried to buck the insanity in his party a few years ago as a third party alternative but this is harsh reality speaking (via TheHIll.com):“We need to go the route of more gun control as a result of Orlando and all the other shootings that have occurred,” Pressler said. “But it’s almost as though Republicans are saying gun control shouldn’t be part of the conversation at all."But gun control isn’t the only reason why Pressler is ready to join “Republicans for Clinton” — he’s also concerned about Trump’s rhetoric on Muslims.
“This election is starting to sound like the German elections in [the late 1920s],” Pressler said. “This is a very dangerous national conversation we’re slipping into.”
“I can’t believe I’m endorsing Hillary Clinton for president, but I am,” said Pressler, who spoke with The Hill on Monday after endorsing Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, in a statement issued over the weekend.
“If someone had told me 10 years ago I would do this, I wouldn’t have believed them."
Pressler, a moderate Republican who served three terms in the Senate before losing his seat to Democrat Tim Johnson in 1997, said he believes voting for Clinton is the “responsible thing to do.”
|Utah Lt. Governor Spencer Cox|
Perhaps more moving and more focused on the LGBT community are the remarks - and apology - of GOP Lt. Governor of Utah, Spencer Cox who spoke at a vigil for the victims of the Orlando massacre. KLS.com has the transcript of his full remarks (read the entire thing). Here are highlights:
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Lt. Governor Spencer Cox addressed a vigil held Monday night to honor the victims and survivors of the mass shooting in Orlando. Here is a transcript of his remarks:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for being here tonight on this very solemn and somber occasion. I begin with an admission and an apology. First, I recognize fully that I am a balding, youngish, middle-aged straight, white, male, Republican, politician... with all of the expectations and privileges that come with those labels. I am probably not who you expected to hear from today.
I’m here because, yesterday morning, 49 Americans were brutally murdered. And it made me sad. And it made me angry. And it made me confused. I’m here because those 49 people were gay. I’m here because it shouldn’t matter. But I’m here because it does. I am not here to tell you that I know exactly what you are going through. I am not here to tell you that I feel your pain. I don’t pretend to know the depths of what you are feeling right now. But I do know what it feels like to be scared. And I do know what it feels like to be sad. And I do know what it feels like to be rejected. And, more importantly, I know what it feels like to be loved.
I grew up in a small town and went to a small rural high school. There were some kids in my class that were different. Sometimes I wasn’t kind to them. I didn’t know it at the time, but I know now that they were gay. I will forever regret not treating them with the kindness, dignity and respect — the love — that they deserved. For that, I sincerely and humbly apologize.
We are here because 49 beautiful, amazing people are gone. These are not just statistics. These were individuals. These are human beings. They each have a story. They each had dreams, goals, talents, friends, family. They are you and they are me. And one night they went out to relax, to laugh, to connect, to forget, to remember. And in a few minutes of chaos and terror, they were gone.
I believe that we can all agree we have come a long way as a society when it comes to our acceptance and understanding of the LGBTQ community (did I get that right?). However, there has been something about this tragedy that has very much troubled me. I believe that there is a question, two questions actually, that each of us needs to ask ourselves in our heart of hearts. And I am speaking now to the straight community. How did you feel when you heard that 49 people had been gunned down by a self-proclaimed terrorist? That’s the easy question. Here is the hard one: Did that feeling change when you found out the shooting was at a gay bar at 2 a.m. in the morning? If that feeling changed, then we are doing something wrong.
So now we find ourselves at a crossroads. A crossroads of hate and terror. How do we respond? How do you respond? Do we lash out with anger, hate and mistrust. Or do we, as Lincoln begged, appeal to the “better angels of our nature?”
I truly believe that this is the defining issue of our generation. Can we be brave? Can we be strong? Can we be kind and, perhaps, even happy, in the face of atrocious acts of hate and terrorism? Do we find a way to unite? Or do these atrocities further corrode and divide our torn nation? Can we, the citizens of the great state of Utah, lead the nation with love in the face of adversity? Can WE become a greatest generation?
On behalf of the 3 million people of the state of Utah, We Are Orlando. We love you. And I love you.
On Facebook under Prime Timers and Friends Around the World, I saw a great quote that sums up how the Orlando horror occurred. And despite efforts of the far right in particular, to rush to blame Islam, the quotes underscores that the hate that motivated the shooter, whether a case of internalized homophobia or not - was nurtured right here in America. Here's the relevant language:
"Just let this sink in... You say, "How could this tragedy happen?" It happened because Omar Mateen's hate was born and bred in America, not overseas. Just 2 weeks ago you were calling trans women child predators. 1 year ago you were saying that our marriages shouldn't be recognized. 6 years ago you were saying that gay men and women couldn't die for their country. 10 years ago you told us we didn't deserve job protections. 13 years ago it took Lawrence v. Texas to decriminalize our sex lives. 18 years ago you took Matthew Sheppard. 23 years ago you took Brandon Teena. 36 years the American Government began their 5 years of silence as 10,000 gay men were massacred by AIDS. 43 years ago we were still considered mentally ill. And 47 years ago the riots of Stonewall began. For centuries this country has bred homophobia into our history, into our schools, and into the very fabric of society. Omar Mateen was the product" of American hate...America, you taught him this and even sold him the gun to do it."
Until anti-LGBT churches, temples and mosques across America recognize their complicity in this tragedy, the hate will continue to be a cancer in this country. Likewise, as long as alleged religious belief is given undeserved deference and respect, the hate will continue to metastasize.
|Taylor at the 2016 Pride Fest launch|
In yesterday's Republican primary for the Virginia 2nd congressional district and gay-friendly Republican, Scott Taylor, defeated the virulently anti-gay, pro-Christofascists Randy Forbes, a carpetbagger from the re-districted 4th congressional district. (Taylor has personally donated as a sponsor of this weekend's HR Pride Fest). Forbes represents everything that is wrong with today's GOP and I say go riddance. Taylor has his short-comings, but at least he's living in the 21st century, unlike Forbes who wants to bring back all of the worst aspects of the 1950's. Since the primary likely decided who wins in November, many in the LGBT community held their noses and voted for Taylor to rid Congress of Forbes' putrid, anti-LGBT presence. Hopefully, other area Republicans will note that being anti-LGBT just might get them defeated as this region becomes more progressive. Here are highlights from the Virginian Pilot:
An ebullient state Del. Scott Taylor won the 2nd Congressional District Republican primary Tuesday with a feisty grassroots campaign after being outspent almost 10-to-1 by U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, a eight-term legislator who was trying to move from his home district to a supposedly friendlier one nearby.Taylor’s next challenge is the Nov. 8 general election, where he will face Democrat Shaun Brown, a relatively unknown Newport News businesswoman and former unsuccessful candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates and the Newport News City Council.
He emerged from a Town Center restaurant a few minutes after 8 p.m. to a fanfare of applause and handshakes.
“This is not done alone,” he said. “This is a team effort. People come together to sacrifice for a cause greater than themselves.”
Taylor’s victory came after a bruising primary campaign in which he and Forbes traded personal barbs that challenged each other’s character and ability to support national security and the region’s defense-centric economy.
Forbes’ defeat spells the end of his 15-year career in the House of Representatives as a lawmaker from the 4th Congressional District. When his House term ends later this year, he will have served 27 consecutive years in elected office after first being elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1989.
Forbes said he regretted not enough people in the 2nd District agreed with his political vision.
There was a certain amount of vindication in Tuesday’s victory for Taylor, 36, who was twice elected to the state House of Delegates. He had been subjected to strong multimedia attacks in television ads, mailings and interviews where Forbes noted Taylor’s business failures and also implied his multiple speeding violations were criminal acts.
Taylor, a former Navy SEAL, ran against much of Virginia Beach’s GOP establishment, with several local elected officials as well as departing U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell endorsing Forbes’ candidacy. Rigell rented Forbes his former headquarters on First Colonial Road and sold him his email lists of supporters.
Rigell said Tuesday night he had “significant” differences with Taylor but would support the party’s nominee to replace him in Congress.