August 09, 2008

This is NOT from God

From the blog "Rising Up Whole":

A week or so ago over at Beyond Ex-Gay (bXg) we received a feedback comment on our website from Anthony Falzarano (an ex-gay leader and the founder of the anti-gay PFOX organization, shown in a PFOX ad at right) addressed to Darlene Bogle. I forwarded the letter to Darlene.

Yesterday I received this email from Darlene (shared with permission). You can read her story at Beyond Ex-Gay in which she writes about her journey out of Exodus. Part of her story is that her partner of twelve years, Des, passed away from breast cancer in 2005.

Dear Christine!
Thank you for sending the feedback email from Anthony Fazarano addressed to me at the bXg website!

It reads:
Darlene, I'm glad I ran across your blog. I still miss you. I am sorry to hear that your lover died of breast-cancer. Darlene is God sending you a message? Please consider coming back to Exodus. You are loved and missed. Why would God call you back to lesbianism, give you a lover and then take her away. I'm sorry that you are going through this. My heart is breaking right now but I believe that you belong to the Lord and "He chastizes the one's that he loves". I believe He is calling you back. If you want to talk I am here to listen. Please call me at [removed] if you want to talk.

May God Bless You,
Anthony Falzarano

Folks, this is about as unGodly as it gets. God does not "punish" us for our perceived misdeeds by killing off our loved ones! This kind of manipulation and twisting of God's love makes me ill.

Here is an excerpt of Darlene's response:

Apparently he feels that if you follow God, nothing bad will ever happen to you. Des and I had 12 years together and she was a special gift of God to me. I stood at her bedside the night she entered heaven, and saw her sweet smile as she met her Lord face to face. Would God give us 12 years together, then take her to heaven as a judgment? No, but through the life she lived, and that we shared, I came to know His love in deeper ways, and to be a more caring, compassionate and kind human being. I wouldn't change it for any experience. Serving God does not insulate you from death. I think we are all going to keep that appointment that was established by God before we were ever born. (Psalm 139)

Anthony believes God is calling me back? To what? The judgmental teachings of Exodus that say you have to change your orientation to be acceptable to God. Long ago I committed myself to acknowledge God in all my ways and allow Him to direct my path. How can I go where God isn't?

If you want a better understanding of how God can work through a loving same-sex relationship, I urge you to read the rest of Darlene Fogle's response.

Thanks to my friend Peterson Toscano for alerting me to this exchange.

August 08, 2008

Link of the Day: OUTFront!

This is the LGBT rights initiative within Amnesty International USA.

While homosexual relationships continues to be criminalized in many countries (where punishment can include the death penalty), and real or perceived homosexuality often constitute the basis of a violent act against a person, there is a growing global movement to recognize the rights of LGBT people and the need to combat these human rights violations. One of the most powerful ways to promote the continued evolution of LGBT human rights and to interrupt the cycle of violence against LGBT people is through education. Learning about human rights and learning how to respect others and defend their human rights is fundamental to creating a culture that supports the human rights of all.

Religious Leaders Fight HIV Travel Restrictions

From the Christian Post:

The faith community will continue to advocate for the lifting of travel restrictions on people living with HIV until the rule is removed worldwide, vowed religious leaders at the 17th International AIDS Conference.

“For both the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) and the Lutheran World Federation this (travel restrictions on HIV+ people) is both an issue of faith and of human rights,” said the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of ELCA and president of LWF on Monday.

“As a religious leader, I am convinced that lifting discriminatory travel restrictions is a responsible act of justice and mercy. Most of those restrictions are born out of fear and ignorance,” Hanson said.

Hanson suggested religious groups consider to not hold national conferences in countries with HIV-related travel restrictions.

This is another positive step toward ensuring GLBT people, especially sick ones.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

August 07, 2008

MySpace Friend of the Day: QBliss

Founded in 1999, QBliss is a not-for-profit, 100% volunteer community and life site created to celebrate the diversity of our lives by providing information and to increase awareness, support and effect change in our local, national and international Gay, Lesbian, Transgendered, and Intersexed (GLBTI) community and it’s Allies. Working in conjunction with some of the largest local, national, and international groups and organizations, QBliss offers a true community based information hub that focuses on GLBTI issues throughout the world. This is achieved by utilizing the Internet and its resources by offering, Yahoo® Powered groups, as well as real-time news feeds that tap GLBTI specific information as well as general world news that affects all people regardless of sexual orientation. All of these services are offered free of charge. Unlike many other GLBTI web sites that offer nothing more than adult material and a somewhat stereotypical twist on our community, QBliss is becoming a more visual entity on the Internet and our community by breaking down the stereotypes and creating real change. Please join us in an effort to put a real face on the GLBTI community and celebrating our diversity.

Focus of AIDS Prevention Returning to Gay Men?

Yes, if the words of these world leaders are heeded.


Discrimination against men who have sex with men must end, and countries must gear up prevention programs against AIDS in this high-risk group, the secretary general of the United Nations said yesterday.

Speaking at the opening ceremonies for the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, UN chief Ban Ki-moon was one of several world leaders and health officials who spoke about the need for targeting the epidemic among homosexual men.

Margaret Chan, head of the World Health Organization's China unit, said health officials in all nations, including the U.S., need to acknowledge setbacks in a group that pioneered the earliest response to the disease. In the U.S., infections among gay men have risen 75 percent in 15 years, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

``We need to engage them, we need to take care of them, we should not forget about them,'' Chan said, referring to the homosexual community worldwide.

Click here to read the rest of the report.

August 06, 2008

Link of the Day: Crossing the T

Life at the intersection of Church and Trans with Rev. Allyson Robinson.

New York Same-Sex Couples Will Enjoy "The Amtrak Option"

Last week, Massachusetts repealed a century-old law preventing out-of-state residents from marrying there if their home states would not recognize the union. Same=sex couples in the state of New York can directly benefit from that.

From the New York Times:

While some New Yorkers have flown across the country to marry in California since May, when that state became the nation’s second to approve same-sex marriage, gay-rights advocates expect many more to do the same in Massachusetts, since it is so much closer.

“We call it the Amtrak option, as opposed to the Jet Blue option,” said Cathy Renna, a communications consultant to gay and lesbian organizations.
Alan Van Capelle, executive director of Empire State Pride Agenda, a leading gay-rights group, said, “I think this is an incredible opportunity for same-sex New York couples who are hungry for some of the 1,324 rights and responsibilities married couples receive to obtain them.”

Governor Paterson’s decision placed New York alongside Rhode Island and New Mexico in recognizing same-sex marriages performed in Massachusetts, according to a Boston-based advocacy group, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders.

A June memo from the Massachusetts Office of Housing and Economic Development estimated that 21,000 gay couples from New York might go there to marry if the state allowed. That is about 43 percent of the estimated 49,000 same-sex couples in New York. About 9,600 same-sex couples from Massachusetts married in the first three years after the state legalized such unions in 2004.

With Governor Paterson’s blessing, New Yorkers who get married in Massachusetts — or Canada or California — will be eligible for a host of benefits that they cannot receive now, according to Mr. Van Capelle of the Pride Agenda. Firefighters and police officers in particular have a lot to gain, because the state gives significant benefits to the spouses of emergency workers killed in the line of duty.

Another step toward equality. Click here to read the rest of the story.

August 05, 2008

MySpace Friend of the Day: Episcopal Online

The Episcopal Media Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that has served the Episcopal Church for over 60 years providing communications support and technology. The mission of our organization is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ through all existing communications technologies. You can see our web site here or visit our online store which supports our mission driven activities. Thank you for your interest in us, if you have any questions feel free to send us a message and i will get right back to you.

Knoxville Church Sanctuary Redidicated a Week After Shooting

From the Tennessean:

Members of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church rededicated their sanctuary Sunday as a place of love, despite the tragedy unleashed there a week ago when a man opened fire with a shotgun and killed two people.

"Beyond the fear that will not subdue us, we reclaim and share this, our worship space," said Brian Griffin, director of religious education. "We are safe; we are together; we are loved, and so it will be."

Community members packed the sanctuary, and others watched a telecast in an overflow room nearby during the rededication.

The Rev. Chris Buice said the slaying of Greg McKendry and Linda Kraeger triggered "unspeakable amounts of love." The shootings occurred during a children's performance of the musical Annie.

Sometimes the worst of circumstances bring out the best in people, and it appears this was one of those occasions.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

"A man tried to divide us into liberals and conservatives, gay and straight. Instead his actions united us," Buice said.

August 04, 2008

Link of the Day: Gay Politics, a project of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, features news, commentary and discussion about openly LGBT public officials and political candidates.

Top 100 Christian Relationship Blogs

I was pleasantly surprised that this blog made a list of the "Top 100 Christian Relationship Blogs" post on "Christian Do It Better." Straight, Not Narrow is #44, at the top of the subgroup "Gay." I joined several blogs from my blogroll on this list.

I've never thought of this blog as a "relationship blog," but if someone wants to categorize it that way I have no problem with it. Thanks to the editor, Kelly Sonora, for the recognition. This is her mission statement:

We believe in promoting wholesome committed relationships among people of faith. And despite whatever the popular media culture may say, Christians do in fact ‘do it better!’

Amen to that!

August 03, 2008

Black AIDS Epidemic Hits Close to Home

From CNN:

"Left Behind - Black America: A Neglected Priority in the Global AIDS" is intended to raise awareness and remind the public that the "AIDS epidemic is not over in America, especially not in Black America," says the report, published by the Black AIDS Institute, an HIV/AIDS think tank focused exclusively on African-Americans.

"AIDS in America today is a black disease," says Phill Wilson, founder and CEO of the institute and himself HIV-positive for 20 years. "2006 CDC data tell us that about half of the just over 1 million Americans living with HIV or AIDS are black."

Although black people represent only about one in eight Americans, one in every two people living with HIV in the United States is black, the report notes.

• AIDS remains the leading cause of death among black women between ages 25 and 34. It's the second-leading cause of death in black men 35-44.

• In Washington, more than 80 percent of HIV cases are among black people, that's one in 20 residents. iReport: AIDS in Washington's older population

"Five percent of the entire population (in DC) is infected... that's comparable to countries like Uganda or South Africa," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN for the recent "Black in America" documentary.

According to this report, if black Americans made up their own country, it would rank above Ethiopia (420,000 to 1,300,000) and below Ivory Coast (750,000) in HIV population. Both Ethiopia and the Ivory Coast are among the 15 nations receiving funds from the President's Emergency Plan For Aids Relief. The United States has given about $15 billion to PEPFAR nations in the past five years.

The Black AIDS Institute says it's not criticizing the federal government for helping poorer countries cope with the AIDS epidemic. Rather, it's saying the "AIDS epidemic [in the U.S.] is not getting the kind attention that it merits."

You think?! These numbers are staggering! African-Americans in our country, especially in my city, need to wake up and aggressively attack this problem because it is aggressively consuming them at an alarming rate.

Click here to read the rest of the CNN article.