January 09, 2009

"2009: The Year of the Trans"

Donna Rose is a transgender activist who felt so strongly about the HRC's support of dropping transgenders from the ENDA legislation last year that she resigned as a member of the organizaiton. She is, however, looking forward to a positive year for the transgender community in 2009 in this post on The Bilerico Project:

As we continue to push the envelope and more and more of us get involved in general "life" things we'll continue to see things change. We'll continue to see pride replace feelings of shame, guilt and fear as we go about our lives. We'll continue to see recognition of the unique challenges many of us face. And we'll continue to gain friends and allies in this struggle who accept us as valued peers, not as expendable liabilities.

I'm not trying to diminish other significant events that may happen this year. We are living in a time of significant opportunity and many of us have high hopes so there's no need to argue about what's the biggest. However, I'm not willing to admit that our continued emergence as whole, sane, contributing members of society is any less important than anything else.

Changing culture, and that's what we're fundamentally talking about here, takes time. Barriers and prejudices built over generations do not come crashing down in a day. It's a gradual change that happens brick by brick. It's filled with stops and starts, spurts and crashes, victories and defeats. It is a journey fueled by passion, energy, and dedication. Looking at our progress it's not hard to predict that 2009 will be a big year in this journey. It is truly an amazing time to be alive.

There is a LOT of wisdom in this excerpt from her post. In order for the entire LGBT community to achieve not only tolerance but full acceptance in society, our culture itself must change. That is an arduous process and can't be done simply with legislation. Real change must be affected by individuals who become tired of being victims or sitting on the sidelines and are ready to initiate change.

Donna Rose sees that for 2009, and I hope she is right. Click here to read her predictions for the upcoming year.

January 05, 2009

The difference between Steven Curtis Chapman and John Travolta

After I read the story about John Travolta's son passing away this weekend, I got to thinking about how different it is when someone loses a loved one and they are not a Christian. Not to say that every Christian handles death the best way, or even in a good way. I'm just saying that the difference in how people handle these tragic circumstances was marked in the two families I have listed.

Here is an excerpt from a story on John Travolta's family. (Just for the sake of this story's significance, Travolta and his wife are members of the Church of Scientology.)

"Q: How is John doing? A: John is distraught. He is trying to understand and reconcile this. He is seeking an explanation so that this makes sense to him. And his loved ones are trying to provide that to him. Yesterday was the worst day of his life. Today is probably equally as bad, and if not, it's the second worst day of his life. John is recognizing the outpouring of support he has got from both the U.S. and the world. He can feel the love and he says it makes him stronger and hopefully it allows him to reconcile. He is undergoing the pain any father would if they lost his son. Generally a son buries his father, and John thought that would be the way it would go with Jett, not the other way around. He is in shock. He is emotionally distraught. He is going through many different feelings of disbelief and anger. It's going to take a while for him to feel good again. This is the most traumatic thing that has ever happened to him and he needs to go through a process of healing. John and Kelly are suffering total misery. They were so close to their son. This is hard to accept."

For the entire article, go to:

In contrast, this is from an article that was written shortly after Steven Curtis Chapman's daughter was accidentally run over with the family car by one of Steven's other children...

"A memorial service was held Saturday at Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville for Grammy Award-winning Christian singer Steven Curtis Chapman's 5-year-old daughter Maria Sue. Maria Sue died three-days earlier when she was accidentally hit at their Franklin, Tennessee home by a reversing Toyota Land Cruiser driven by her 17-year-old brother.

In a two hour service that drew 1500 mourners - Maria was remembered for her love of water and doing the dishes naked. She "loved, loved, loved to be naked," said her mother Mary Beth Chapman. He understandably is just devastated," Chapman's pastor Scotty Smith told CBN News about the son involved in the accident. "Their beautiful home has a couple of bends in the road. It just was totally an accident. A viewing for Maria was held Friday evening."This is a very difficult experience for the family and for any family that has lost a child," Pam Stevens, the Funeral Director at Williamson Memorial Funeral Home & Gardens in Nashville told Usmagazine.com. "Their faith is extremely strong and that is what they're leaning on."

For the rest of this article, go to:

What I found interesting about these two stories is the utter devastation and despair that the Travolta family seems to be in. While it's obviously hard for any family who loses a child, some of the verbage in the first article really made it seem like Mr. Travolta is angry and questioning why this happened. The word "reconcile" was used several times by his representative. That he was trying to reconcile what has happened. Presumably, he can't reconcile what he believes with what has happened. Scientology is a sketchy religion, at best. The word "Scientology" means "the study of knowledge or truth." The Scientology religion holds that man is basically good, not evil. This flies in the face of what we, as Christians, know to be THE truth. We need Jesus. We need the Savior. Unfortunately, Mr. Travolta and his family are trying to reconcile their child's untimely death with the idea that if they did was Scientology told them, everything would be fine. They would have success, a good family, etc.

Steven Curtis Chapman's family, while not perfect by any means, had the benefit of knowing that their daughter was with her God and that God never promised us that we'd never know pain or loss in this life. He promises us that He will help us through times of pain and loss. He promises that if that loved one knew Him, we will see them again. He also promises that we will most certainly know hard times!!

As Christians, we can know with certainty that we will encounter horrible pain at some point, sometimes many points, in our lives. What gives us an advantage over those who don't believe in Jesus is that we know He suffered too. We know that He loves us and will be there with us through the tough times. How hard it must be not to have that knowledge!

It's times like these that make me even more determined to talk to those I love who are non-believers and let them know that Jesus is real and that He loves them and wants to be in their lives! Please, don't hesitate when God gives you an opportunity to talk to someone about Him. It may be your only chance.

January 04, 2009

We Don't Need MORE Organizations

As I've put together the resources for this blog over the years, I've sifted through hundreds of organizations at the local, regional, national, and worldwide levels. Do we really need more? Well, here's someone who apparently thinks we do. From the (San Francisco) Bay Area Reporter:

Since Prop 8 passed November 4, several groups have sprung up and organized marches and rallies around California.

Now, at least one new group wants another march on Washington, D.C. But others are expressing doubt as to how successful Yes on Gay Marriage, the new group, can be.

Kelley Moran, an organizer with Yes on Gay Marriage, said it was formed to work for marriage in all 50 states and recognition by the federal government.

It's "imperative as a community that we stand up for our civil rights and go to Washington, D.C. and ask for [the Defense of Marriage Act] to be overturned," said Moran, who's openly gay and president of Moran and Associates, a Sacramento-based agency that works in political consulting, public affairs, and other areas.

Moran said Yes on Gay Marriage has a list of several hundred LGBT groups that they're contacting and his organization will be meeting with others in January to discuss a strategic plan.

While I agree with Moran's ultimate goals, why in the world do we need to devote additional resources to a new organization to do so? Wouldn't time and money be better spent working within the framework of existing groups, making them more robust, effective, and focused? Are egos getting in the way here--people thinking that they need to put their stamp on these issues to make a difference?

One very important thing to remember is that GLBT people are a minority. Those who oppose equality greatly outnumber and outspend GLBT activists and their supporters. I don't think it is in the best interest of advancing equality to take the small pie and slice it up into even smaller pieces.

People speaking with different voices, all trying to be heard, usually just make an unintelligible racket. If their is one common, unified voice speaking loudly and firmly, however, that has the best chance of being heard and respected.

Let's see some more unity in the struggle for equality with everyone focusing on, dare I say, the same agenda for the greater good rather than their own individual ones.