December 22, 2007

Review of "The God Box"

I'm a bit late with this, but in case you have not heard about the novel "The God Box" by Alex Sanchez, you should. I haven't had time to read and review it, so I'm linking to a review written by my friend David W. Shelton.

In Alex Sanchez’ newest novel for young readers, The God Box introduces a
teenage boy to the greatest struggle of his life: his sexuality. The Lambda
Award-winning author of Getting It tackles a subject ripped from headlines in
this exciting and thought-provoking exploration of what it means to be both
Christian and gay in a small, Southern town.

I’m not sure if I can adequately relate just how refreshing it was to read
a book that so accurately portrays the struggle that young gay Christians
endure. I’ve seen so many stories about young gay teens and adults that are all
about the sex, drugs, and clubbing that is so often associated with the gay

To me, “refreshing,” is neither accurate nor appropriate to describe my
feelings as I read through its pages. A far better word is “living.” This is a
story about life, faith, and love in a way that is as crisp as it is

You can read the rest of the review on Clarkesville Online.

December 21, 2007

Students Finding Strength and Acceptance in Gay-Straight Alliance

Sometimes kids get it better than adults. Here's a group outside San Francisco that is building a thriving Gay-Straight Alliance group in their high school.

From the San Mateo County Times:

For many of the student members of Half Moon Bay High School's
Gay-Straight Alliance, life inside the club is a lot easier than life outside

Whether they are gay or straight, club members often find themselves mocked
by the student body for possessing the very quality that helps them make friends
with other club members: being different.

"I think people are put down if they're gay, especially in high school. I'm
not gay, but I want to stop the criticism. If we were all gay, we would make fun
of straight people. That doesn't make any sense, so why should we make fun of
gay people?" asked club member Russell Crispin, 15, who says he has several gay
and lesbian family members. Since founding the Gay-Straight Alliance in
September, the club's 30-odd members have developed other traits in common: They
are opinionated, and they are determined to defend and support students' rights
to a harassment-free high school experience. They also love to have fun.

A recent after-school meeting saw both laughter and moments of sadness as
club members shared their accounts of what it is like to be gay or to be a
friend to someone who is gay. They kept themselves busy making rose-a-grams —
roses with little notes attached that students purchased to give their friends,
in honor of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1. The effort raised $125 toward AIDS

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Survivor: Another Gay Man Wins!

Jim and Brenda know that Erica and I enjoy watching Survivor on television. This season's winner, Todd, was interviewed on Logo Online and I read the interview with great interest. Todd is a 22-year old gay Mormon.

What I found interesting about him is that he didn't seem overt about his sexuality on the show, as so many gay players have been in the past. It turns out that it was edited that way. He came out to the women of his tribe the first night! He was asked how a women named Leslie, who was identified as a Christian radio host, responded to his being gay. He said that she loves everyone and talked about how incredible she is and that she feels everyone is God's child. What a testimony that is to everyone who reads it! It really struck me when I read this interview that I had been predjudicial toward Leslie because I assumed that she would not react well if she found out because, after all, she was a Christian radio host. She couldn't possibly be an enlightented Christian, right? Well, shut my mouth. It was good to see that I was wrong.

If you care to read the article, there were other good tibits in it. It's found at:

December 20, 2007

More Local Action: Palm Beach County Bans Transgender Discrimination

From the Palm Beach County (FL) Human Rights Council:

At this morning's public hearing, the Palm Beach County Commissioners unanimously approved amendments to two county ordinances which will prohibit discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on gender identity or expression.

Jeff Koons, Vice Chair of the Board of County Commissioners, had introduced the amendments to the County's Equal Employment Ordinance and Fair Housing Ordinance at the request of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council.

"No one should be fired, harassed, or denied promotion simply because they don't fit the stereotypes for masculinity or femininity," Council President Rand Hoch told Koons.

The new law, which covers public and private employers with fifteen or more employees, and most real estate transactions, goes into effect on January 1.

"In a matter of days, all Palm Beach County residents will be judged on the quality of their work and will given an equal chance to succeed," said Hoch. "No longer will an employer be able to fire an employee solely because she is a woman with a masculine walk or he is a man with an effeminate voice."

With almost 1.3 million people, Palm Beach County will become one of the nation's largest jurisdictions to prohibit discrimination against transgender persons.

When the Palm Beach County ordinances take effect, close to 40% of the US population will live in jurisdictions where it is illegal to discriminate based on gender identity or expression.

Thirteen states (California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington) and the District of Columbia have enacted laws prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity or expression.

In addition similar laws exist in more than 90 cities and counties across America.

In Florida, the cities of Gulfport, Key West, Lake Worth, Miami Beach and West Palm Beach, as well as Monroe County prohibit both public and private employers from discriminating based on gender identity or expression.

The cities of Largo, Oakland Park and Wilton Manors, as well as the Village of Tequesta protect their municipal employees from discrimination based on gender identity or expression.

The Gainesville City Commission is expected to adopt an ordinance early next year which will prohibit discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on gender identity or expression.

Civil rights activists are also working in both Broward and Pinellas Counties to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression.

December 19, 2007

The Catholics Think I Am Committing a Moral Sin

No, really, they think I am doing some bad, bad stuff. There's this quote from the Roman Catholic Coadjutor Archbishop John Nienstedt:

"Those who actively encourage or promote homosexual acts or such activity with a homosexual lifestyle formally cooperate in grave evil and, if they do so knowingly and willingly, are guilty of mortal sin."

Well then, let's just move directly to Go, collect the $200, and then head straight to Hell. Not only GLBT but their allies, like me, are doomed.

Makes you wonder where all those gay priests fit into the scheme of things, especially those who don't stay celebate, but that's another post for another day.

Here is an excellent response to that statement by the Roman Catholic church by Ann Marie DeGroot, the executive director of OutFront Minnesota, an entire organization made up of people considered guilty of mortal sins.

I am careful to specify that this is the work of the Roman Catholics. I have run across some independent Catholic churches and smaller denominations with Catholic principles that are open and affirming, so let's not throw them under the bus.

You know, like the Roman Catholics did with us.

December 18, 2007

Taking Positive Action to Help GLBT Teens

I've posted several stories about troubled GLBT youth. Here's someone who is doing something to help them in Ogden, Utah.

It’s a busy night at Ogden’s OUTReach Resource Center for teens. The minute director Gary Horenkamp answers the telephone, 25 youngsters march into the drop-in center’s space at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden in search of something fun to do on a cold December night.

“That's a lot for the center. Usually we get about 10 or 12. Let's see... four or five are playing pool next door. Some are singing and dancing, a couple are playing the X-Box and I think arts and crafts are about to break out," says Horenkamp, designated this particular Wednesday for making Holiday decorations. “It looks like they’re making snowmen, wreaths, maybe some green and red stuff.” Seconds later, a teen wanders into Horenkamp’s office in search of a cheese grater.

“I’m guessing he wanted to make chili,” Horenkamp laughs. The center has many kitchen utensils and a lot of snacks for noshing, but unfortunately no grater, so the teen will have to try something else.

It’s all in a night’s work for Horenkamp, who has worked with the resource center since its founding in September, 2004.

As Horenkamp explains it, OUTReach, while not a religious program, was the brain child of the Unitarian Universalist church that houses it. Three years ago, the church’s social action committee decided that they wanted to provide a service for the city’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender teens. Although a number of resources existed to serve Ogden’s 60,000 young people, such as The Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Youth Impact, Horenkamp said none at the time existed specifically for queer youngsters.

“Don’t get me wrong, the other organizations don’t discourage them from coming, but this is the place that is always in tune with their issues and needs,” he says.

Read more about this heartwarming story from Q Salt Lake.

December 17, 2007

Another Right Wing Writer Tells Gays What They Want

One of the great things about being a right-wing zealot is being granted the ability to know what everyone is thinking and what everyone's motivation is for their actions. The latest example of that is Baptist Press columnist Kelly Boggs, who is clearly exorcised that the Boy Scouts are losing their free rent of a city government-owned building in Philadelphia because of the organizations prejudice against gays. He writes in an article linked to by Good As You:

Homosexual activists do not want tolerance. They want to force groups, like the Boy Scouts, to accept and validate their lifestyle. If homosexuals and atheists are so opposed to the principles of the Boy Scouts, why don't they go and start their own scouting groups? Then they, as affirmed by the Supreme Court, can set their own membership rules.

Why do homosexual activists insist on attacking the Boy Scouts? It is a will to power. Either you embrace their lifestyle or they will make every effort to destroy your life and reputation. Thus far, the Scouts -- along with conservative Christian organizations and churches -- are one of the few groups to defy the activists’ demands.

Of course, it is actually the Boy Scouts who are not showing tolerance by refusing to allow gay boys to join, but that's not even the issue here. The matter of public funds subsidizing prejudice and exclusion of any group of people is actually the issue.

Yes, the Boy Scouts do have the right to homophobic policies if they want, and GLBT activists have the right to disagree with them. The Scouts, or any other organization that adopts bigoted practices, does NOT have the right to have their prejudice subsidized by taxpayers.

Right wing political organizations like the Southern Baptists (I remember when they used to be a religion, one which I belonged to for many years--I've come a long way, but sadly they have not) don't let the facts get in the way of trying to create, then play the victim card.

Fortunately, more and more people are becoming tired of hearing it, and I hope more municipalities like the city of Philadelphia stand up and stop supporting organizations that practice discrimination.

If you hit groups hard enough in the pocket book, they may have to take a different approach.

Ex-Ex-Gay Minister Tells His Story: It's Not Pretty

If you know of anyone who is struggling with their sexual orientation and considering going the "ex-gay" route, forward this story to them. It should make their blood run cold.

Scott Harrison desperately tried to change his sexual orientation in
various "ex-gay" ministries for eight years, three of them as a ministry leader
in Southern California. Most of his experience with ex-gay groups — Christian
organizations that see homosexuality as a choice that can be changed with proper
therapy — was with Living Waters and Desert Stream, two curricula of a national
ex-gay network that has more than 80 branches today. When Harrison joined in
1982, he felt ex-gay ministers were then a band of compassionate outsiders
attending to the first AIDS victims. But by the end of that decade, Harrison had
taken note of the movement's increasing radicalism, symbolized for him by the
minister at the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in San Pedro, Calif., who
performed an exorcism on him in an attempt to cast out the "demons" said to be
the cause of his homosexuality. Harrison finally quit the movement in 1990 after
deciding he could, after all, reconcile his sexuality with his Christian faith.
Today, he speaks to parents of gay and lesbian children about the dangers he
sees in the ex-gay movement. Harrison says the relatively recent alignment of
Exodus International, one of the largest ex-gay groups with some 120 ministries
in North America alone, with anti-gay Christian "dominionists" — people who want
to impose Christian rules on the secular institutions of society — has led to
ex-gay ministers pursuing a hard-line message with young people that can only
end in mental anguish and failure.

Read more of this story at the Southern Poverty Law Center's website.

December 16, 2007

There's An Organization That Wants LESS Funding for AIDS Research

I've posted plenty of stories here discussing the need for people and legislators to move away from apathy and devote more funding to HIV/AIDS research, but to my disgust I actually ran across an organization devoted to REDUCING funding.

This group is called FAIR (Fair Allocation in Research), and the following information is from their website.

The group was founded by Dr Richard Darling

a California dentist, founded the FAIR Foundation after surviving hepatitis C, diabetes, cirrhosis and cancer of the liver, coma, heart attack, hepatorenal syndrome, Muscular Dystrophy (myasthenia gravis) and three liver transplant operations.

That's quite a list, one that is difficult to believe. He was motivated by the following:

In 1999 when Dr. Darling was becoming very ill yet again, he viewed an ABC network 20/20 segment by reporter John Stossel (a noted right-wing advocate) entitled “Disease Politics.” It was produced with facts supplied by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and graphically illustrated the unfair governmental bias that significantly favors AIDS over all other diseases, including the sixteen that kill more Americans than AIDS.

“Disease Politics” introduced a courageous Parkinson’s Disease patient, Joan Samuelson, and her unending efforts to get more funding for Parkinson’s Disease, which is grossly under funded by the NIH. Dr. Darling was so inspired by Ms. Samuelson’ fight for justice and John Stossel’s reporting that he vowed to start a national organization to correct the unfair NIH and Congressional allocation inequities if he was blessed with a third transplant. Dr. Darling received the “Gift of Life” and, thus, the FAIR Foundation was born.

A prime example of what they consider a funding "inequity" is included in the introduction on their website:

The favoritism given AIDS over all other diseases, including the sixteen diseases that kill a million more Americans than AIDS annually

Although further down on their home page they acknowledge that mortality rate should not be the only determining factor for research funding, those numbers appear to be the rationalization for their push to reroute funding from AIDS research.

Please understand, like most of you lives of people I love has been impacted by several of the 16 diseases that rank higher than the AIDS mortality rate, and the more resources that can be devoted to preventing and curing them the better.

It is clear to me that this effort is motivated by bigotry being disguised with statistics. From a Christian perspective, this is one way Satan uses people to do his work, disguising hate and prejudice in a way that it can become more presentable and palateable.

This hate must be met with a vigilant effort to reach out and love those who are impacted by the HIV/AIDS virus and the desire to prevent others from enduring this still deadly and debilitating disease.

Jesus reached out to the lepers and others considered socially unacceptable, and if we want to follow His example, we must do the same.