March 14, 2008

Celebrate GLBT Women During Women's History Month

The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force is celebrating Women's History Month by recognizing the contributions of women in the fight for equality.

All the women leaders involved in the social justice movement contribute extraordinary perspective, work and value, and the pro-LGBT movement is richer and more strategic because of the diversity and skills represented by all these individuals and organizations. Each week we can only highlight a small selection. We hope that you understand that these highlighted leaders stand among many more colleagues who, like them, share their energy, passion and vision and promote equality and justice in our world.

The site features bios of many advocacy organization and faith leaders. I encourage you to spend some time on the site and learn about these important women.

Women's History Month 2008 on the NGLTF website

March 13, 2008

"The War Within"

If I'm ever at a loss for what to write about here, one of the places I check out is Peterson Toscano's blog "A Musing." I was not disappointed, finding his post titled "The War Within."

What I really respect about Peterson's writing is how he gets right to the bone in sharing his personal experiences, many of them traumatic, and is therefore able to relate to others well enough to help them do the same. He shows that again in this essay. Here are some excerpts, but I encourage you to click through and read the entire post.

Many lesbian, gay and bisexual folks live with internalized homophobia. We grow up in a society that insists that heterosexuality is the approved norm, and anything other than it is not only "less than" but actually a perversion. Even when we did not hear bad things said about gays, lesbians and bisexuals, we have almost exclusively heard good things about heterosexuals while virtually nothing positive about people not heterosexual. We experienced heterosexual lives, loves, and desires prominently celebrated in pop songs, romantic comedies, religious services and billions of images. We got the message that non-heterosexuals were not fully human.

Not too long ago I spoke with an ex-gay survivor who grapples to understand the difficulties in his life and why it remains so hard for him to move beyond his ex-gay experiences. He wonders why it cannot be a simple recovery without all the pain and difficulty he suffers.

After we go to war against ourselves, we find ourselves in the midst of the carnage. We sliced up our hearts. We slandered ourselves daily and did all manner of cruelty to ourselves. Aided and abetted by an anti-gay Church and world, we can now find our souls sliced and diced and in bleeding tatters.

I went to war against myself. Actually I joined someone else's war, recruited to drive out a part of myself even though that part of me did nothing wrong. After I stopped the battle, I assessed the ruin. I remember the first few years before I began to process my ex-gay experiences and the damage they brought to my life. I felt angry and bitter, cheated and deceived while still battered by daily onslaughts of guilt and doubt and fear. No wonder it took me nearly 10 years to begin to feel good about myself again.

March 12, 2008

Good USA Today Feature on Judy Shepard

Judy Shepard never wanted to be an activist, never wanted a piece of legislation to bear her son's name, never wanted to head a foundation. That all changed on October 12, 1998 when her son Matthew was tied up, brutaly beaten, and left to die simply because he had the nerve to be gay.

Now, Judy is friends with Elton John and other celebrities who have embraced the mission of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, to try and stamp out hate towards GLBT people.

This is a nice article about her from USA Today. Here are a couple of excerpts:

"We try to educate everyone about everyone," she says. "But hate is still out there."

The foundation has educational, outreach and advocacy programs "to replace hate … with acceptance," Shepard says.

(GLAAD, the gay anti-defamation group, will honor Shepard with its Excellence in Media award Monday in New York. Past recipients include Billy Crystal, Diane Sawyer, Glenn Close, Patti LaBelle and Phil Donahue.)

Shepherd is encouraged by The Laramie Project, the play about Matt's murder that has seen 5,000 productions around the world.

"Ten years ago, can you imagine a high school putting that on?" she asks. "But it's been everywhere."

Shepard also points out what has and what hasn't changed in the 10 years since her son was murdered.

What hasn't is that hate crimes continue. She mentions the recent murder of Lawrence King, a gay 15-year-old junior high student in Oxnard, Calif., who was shot to death by a fellow student.

"This terrible incident underscores the fact that we cannot let hate go unchecked in our schools and communities," Shepard says. "Our young people need our direction and guidance to prevent this type of crime from happening."

If you are interested in more information, here is a link to the Matthew Shepard Foundation.

We Need to Stand Up Against This Kind of Hate Speech!

You've probably heard by now about the charming speech Rep. Sally Kern, a member of the Oklahoma legislature, recently gave. If you didn't, you should.

From the Dallas Morning News:

A Republican member of the Oklahoma Legislature has received death threats since telling a political group that "the homosexual agenda is just destroying this nation" and poses a bigger threat to the U.S. than terrorism or Islam.

"I'm not gay-bashing. But according to God's word that is not the right kind of lifestyle," Rep. Sally Kern of Oklahoma City said during an appearance before a group of Republicans. Her comments were recorded and posted on the video sharing Web site YouTube on Friday by the Washington, D.C.-based Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.

"Studies show no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted more than a few decades," Kern says in the recorded comments. "It is not a lifestyle that is good for this nation."
On Monday, Kern said her comments were edited and taken out of context. Kern said they were directed at wealthy, politically active homosexuals who are contributing money to gay and lesbian candidates for public office in Oklahoma and other states.

"I was talking about an agenda. I was not talking about individuals," said Kern, the wife of a Baptist minister. "They have the right to choose that lifestyle. They do not have the right to force it down our throat.

"I have never said hate speech against anybody. I would never do that."

Kern said she has received more than 3,000 e-mails and hundreds of telephone calls since her comments were posted online. She said a few supported her comments but that most condemned them and that some contained death threats and obscenities.

Here is a link to the video

I post this here not to rile people up even further but to point out how important it is to react to this and let our elected officials know this type of narrow-minded bigotry and ignorance is unacceptable. Do we want people with beliefs like this actually having a vote regarding the laws of our states or our nation? I know I don't, and I don't think you do either.

I find it very encouraging that so many people have already watched the video and flooded the repreresentative with calls and e-mails (let's skip the death threats though, okay?). Not that it is likely to change her mind, but let it be a cautionary tale for all of our elected officials.

The GLBT community and its allies will not stand idly by when someone publicly takes a swipe at them and their "agenda" of equal rights! We will not let someone spew hatred comparing GLBT people (unfavorably) to terrorists! We will not allow someone to rant about how GLBT people are ruining this country!

Let's work together to make sure Rep. Kern not only does not get reelected but chooses not to even run for office again. She has a right to her beliefs, but someone who demonstrates such hate and bigotry should not have the right to represent anyone!

March 10, 2008

International Carnival of Pozitivities 2.9 is Online

From Ron Hudson:

Dear Friends of the International Carnival of Pozitivities (ICP):

It is a tremendous pleasure to announce the publication of edition 2.9 of the ICP at Creampuff Revolution. Creampuff, a.k.a., Roro, who hails from Vancouver , is our first repeat host from Canada . I encourage you to bookmark this edition and visit it over time so that you can enjoy each of the contributions from the world of HIV/AIDS. I hope that you will also join me in thanking Roro for her work this month. We “met” about 2 years ago during the NHL Hockey Championship between Edmonton and the Carolina Hurricanes and have been fast friends since despite some rather competitive invocation of mojo to make our teams win the Stanley Cup. Roro’s sense of compassion combined with her sense of humor makes me quite happy to count her among my friends.

This 21st consecutive edition of the ICP features personal accounts, video, a special musical contribution from UK band Slovo, self-help information and the latest in news from the HIV/AIDS community. I hope that you will spend some time reading and that you will leave comments for the contributors. It is through your comments that we can hone our messages and learn how you feel about our work. Please feel free to leave your thoughts with each of the contributors and for our gracious host.

March 09, 2008

"Homophobia in Black Churches Fuels HIV"

That's the view of Bishop John Selders, who wrote an essay for PageOneQ:

As a pastor and community leader working on HIV/AIDS prevention for over 25 years and as an advocate with the Human Rights Campaign's Religion Council, I know the devastating toll this epidemic is taking on all our communities. The HIV/AIDS crisis statistics are staggering: 5,700 people die every day from the disease; 6800 are infected daily with HIV/AIDS, 2,900 of which are women 15 years and younger.

This week, The AIDS Institute's faith program, United Faith Action Network (UFAN), is urging all communities of faith to join in activities related to the Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS. I strongly support this work. Indeed, as early as 1992 as the Program Director of the North Side AIDS Outreach Project, I helped launch the first of these campaigns in Saint Louis, Missouri. Now I give leadership to the fight against HIV/AIDS in Hartford, CT.

If there ever was a disease that demanded we start acting like Jesus by opening our hearts to all of our neighbors, this is it. The Jesus I know stretched forth his hands offering a healing touch. But to get there we need first to be honest about who we are and about who is suffering in our communities. It isn't just those who fit into some convenient demonized "other" category who are suffering. It is our own families: our brothers and sisters, our aunts and uncles, our cousins and grandchildren, our fathers and mothers. As we celebrate this Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS campaign let's as a community take some positive steps toward healing.

You've probably heard the phrase "keeping it real" so often you're numb to it, but that is the truth of what Bishop Selders is speaking to here. A community that discourages and penalizes people for understanding, accepting, and acting as who they are only hurts itself.

Read what else Bishop Selders wrote about this topic at PageOneQ.