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COMMENTARY
 

Warrior Women are the Role Models We Need

Selma, Stonewall and Beyond

People Guess the Sexual Orientation of Strangers

What Could a Gay Utopia Teach Urban America?

Introduction to the LGBTQ Community

What Has and Has Not Changed


Respecting Same Sex Marriage and Religious Freedom

By Ana Navarro / Republican Strategist & Commentator

 

I support marriage equality. For many years, I felt like being a pro-same sex marriage Republican would land me in a 12-step program. Unlike Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and so many other Americans, I didn't evolve on the issue. I don't remember a time in my life when I thought gay people were entitled to fewer rights than I was. I don't think same-sex marriage is a threat to the institution. On the contrary, the more, the marrier (pun intended).

I never saw a conflict between conservative values of less government intrusion and personal freedom and supporting marriage equality. There is no freedom more personal than deciding who to commit your life to. Government shouldn't mandate whom we choose to love.

 



As state after state legalized same-sex marriage, many of my gay friends legally wed. My home state, Florida, was one of the last states in a series of states that legalized same-sex marriage and only after a protracted court battle. Many Floridians, including men and women I love dearly, traveled to other states so they could make their unions legal. I saw how much it meant to them to be able to say, "my husband" or "my wife."

They felt their love was legitimized. Their relationships were equal. These are not people who want to chip away at the tradition of marriage. They want to participate in it and make it stronger. My gay friends were the reason I was a signatory on the two Republican amicus briefs that were filed with the Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage.

From a personal point of view, my heart was filled with joy and celebration at last week's Supreme Court decision making same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. From a political point of view, I find myself hoping that this fight is over and we can move on.

Some of these people are also my friends and relatives. My 74-year-old Nicaraguan Catholic father cannot get himself to accept same-sex marriage. God knows, I've tried.

I know my dad. It is not in his nature to discriminate against anybody -- well, maybe with the exception of communists. My dad cannot get his arms around the idea of two men walking down the aisle. His views are shaped by his culture and guided by his religion. On social issues, he'll side with The Vatican over me.

 



There are people on both sides of this issue who I respect and love. It is time for everyone to remember that tolerance is a two-way street. We must be respectful of people's rights -- that includes the right to marry who you choose, and also the right to practice the religion that you choose. These two rights can co-exist.

We are a pragmatic nation. We can and must find a solution to the conflict. There can't be that many bakers, caterers and florists in America who don't like to make money. The wedding industry is a multibillion dollar business. Most wedding vendors will be happy to charge same-sex couples for their services. The few that don't are refusing the business based on religious objections.

I get the "it's the principle of the thing" argument. On the other hand, who wants to pay for and eat a cake baked by someone who thinks you are committing a sin? Thank you, I'll pass.

In a country as big, diverse and democratic as ours, we can come up with narrowly crafted exemptions for cottage industries and small vendors whose religious beliefs do not allow them to participate in a same-sex wedding.

Before we embark on countless legal challenges and the elderly evangelical baker making cakes out of her garage in Arkansas gets dragged into court, isn't it worth trying to find a little sliver of common ground? I know I sound naive.

Our society is so politicized and polarized, reaching agreement can be hard to imagine. I urge both sides of this issue to take a deep breath and reflect on how we can live and respect each other's freedoms, rights and beliefs.

 

 

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Why We Won't Go Back

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Why Am I So Gay?

 

Scientific Perspective on Sex and Gender

By Science Teacher / Facebook / September 2017

 

I just saw a transphobic post that was like, "In a sexual species, females have two X chromosomes and males have an X and a Y chromosome. I'm not a bigot. It's just science." 

 

Well, I am a science teacher, so I posted the following comment.

 

First of all, in a sexual species, females can be XX and males can be X, as in insects.  Females can be ZW and males can be ZZ, as in birds.  And females can be females because they developed in a warm environment and males can be males because they developed in a cool environment, as in reptiles. Females can be females because they lost a penis in a sword fighting contest, as in some flatworms. Males can be males because they were born female but changed sexes because the only male in their group died, as in parrotfish and clownfish. Males can look and act like females because they are trying to get close enough to actual females so they can mate with them, as in cuttlefish and bluegills. Or you can be one of thousands of sexes, as in slime molds and some mushrooms.

 

Oh, did you mean humans? Okay then. You can be male because you were born female, but you have 5-alphareductase deficiency and so you grew a penis at the age of 12. You can be female because you have an X and a Y chromosome, but you are insensitive to androgens, and so you have a female body. You can be female because you have an X and a Y chromosome, but your Y is missing the SRY gene, and so you have a female body. You can be a male because you have two X chromosomes, but one of your X's has a SRY gene, and so you have a male body. You can be male because you have two X chromosomes, but also a Y chromosome. You can be a female because you have only one X chromosome at all. And you can be a male because you have two X chromosomes, but your heart and brain are male.  And vice versa.

 

Don't use science to justify your bigotry.  The world is way too weird for that shit.

 

 

TED Talk: The Gift of Living Gay

 

When Can I Call My Boyfriend My Husband?


By Boris Dittrich / Human Rights Watch / Advocate Magazine / August 2017

The one sentence that brought marriage equality to Germany.  Small moments can lead to enormous change, like when Angela Merkel was politely confronted on LGBTQ rights.

Most Western European countries have embraced marriage equality. Germany was late to the table but eventually got there. The final proof will come October 1, 2017 when the first same-sex marriages take place.

Germany had been a hard nut to crack in terms of legislation. But to everyone’s surprise, on June 26, 2017 it was one young man, Ulli Köppe, 28, who set a chain of events in motion leading to the long-sought-after equal marriage legislation. At a public event he asked Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, a simple, but powerful question:  “When can I call my boyfriend my husband?”

 



German lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender organizations and their allies have been advocating equal marriage rights for many years. In 2001, the year the Netherlands adopted the first marriage equality law, Germany introduced registered partnership for same-sex couples. Since 2010 opposition parties in the German Parliament have taken steps to introduce same-sex marriage, but these were blocked by the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union parties in two subsequent governing coalitions. Merkel, chancellor since 2005, had made opposition to marriage equality a condition of a coalition agreement with her CDU/CSU party.

In the summer of 2015, Human Rights Watch took the initiative to bring some 20 German nongovernmental organizations together in our Berlin office to open the Ehe fur Alle (Marriage for All) campaign. Marriage equality had popular appeal. In 2016 a study by Germany’s federal antidiscrimination agency showed that 83 percent of people interviewed favored marriage equality, but Merkel and her CDU/CSU party remained dismissive.

The chancellor did not budge until the evening of June 26. She was speaking at a public event organized by the women’s magazine Brigitte. Ulli Köppe, interested in politics and social issues, and a fan of Merkel as a politician, went to hear her speak in the Gorki Theater in Berlin. When it was time for questions from the audience, Köppe spontaneously grabbed the microphone and asked his simple question: “When can I call my boyfriend my husband?”

Angela Merkel, seemingly thinking out loud, answered that same-sex marriage should be decided by each individual member of Parliament. Köppe had not realized the significance of this answer, but one journalist who was attending recognized its political implications. The next morning Köppe received calls from reporters from every corner of the world.

Merkel had given in and was in favor of a free vote in Parliament. Perhaps Merkel shifted her stance because her potential coalition partners in a future government had indicated same-sex marriage should be adopted and it would be very difficult for Merkel’s party to form a new government after the September elections while refusing equal marriage rights.

Be that as it may, Köppe’s question and Merkel’s answer led to a vote of conscience, which Merkel’s coalition partner SPD (Socialdemokratische Partei Deutschland) called for on June 30. The vote was 393 to 226, with four abstentions. From the 393 yes votes, 75 came from Merkel’s own party. Merkel voted no. The bill was approved by the Bundesrat (Upper House) July 7, and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier signed it July 21, after which it was formally published in the law gazette. The legislation will come into force October 1.

This chain of political events happened at an incredible speed, triggered by one question. Ulli Köppe came to the Human Rights Watch office in Berlin, and I asked him what strategy he used to break down Angela Merkel’s firm wall. His answer moved me: “My question was spontaneous. It came from love.”

 

German Lawmakers Vote to Legalize Same Sex Marriage

The One Sentence That Brought Marriage Equality to Germany

Angela Merkel's Dinner With Lesbian Couple

Gay Pride in Berlin

First Gay Couple Married in Germany

 

Why Pride? An Explanation for Straight People

By Brandan Robertson / Huffington Post / June 2017

"Remember, straight people flaunt their straightness all day, every day, in every part of this country."

Brandan Robertson

"When all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free."
-President Barack Obama

June is national pride month, a month set aside to remember, celebrate, and empower queer people and our contributions to the flourishing of humanity. All across the country, LGBTQ people and our allies will be gathering for festivals, parades, parties, demonstrations, and marches that boldly proclaim that we are not ashamed of our queerness and that we will not be silent until we have achieved full freedom and equality in our society and every society around the world.

 

Yet during this month, there will also l be a lot of pushback from the heterosexual communities and individuals who just don’t understand what this whole pride thing is about. I cant tell you the number of times I have been cornered by straight people who look me in the eyes and say, “I’m okay with you all being gay, but why do you have to flaunt it in the streets? You don’t see straight people doing that!” To which I respond, “bullshit”.

I mean that in the kindest, most sincere way possible. But straight and cisgender people are the most visible people on planet earth, not just because of their sheer numbers, but because their relationships, sexuality, and gender expressions are seen as the “normative” expressions, and therefore, uplifted and repeated in every community around the country. Straight, cisgender people hold hands as they walk down the street without fear of getting accosted. They watch television shows and movies, listen to music, and read books that center on their relationships and gender expression. The majority of advertisements on billboards, websites, and television center on heterosexual and cisgender people. And our government is set up to privilege and favor heterosexual relationships above all others.

 

The Year to Be Queer

Why I Am Coming Out Now

Why We Won't Go Back

Why I Must Come Out

Why Am I So Gay?


In short, straight people flaunt their straightness all day, every day, in every part of this country. And despite the far-right narrative that the “gays” are taking over our country, for a majority of LGBTQ people in America, it is still incredibly uncomfortable at best, dangerous at worst to express ourselves in our communities. In a majority of states across our country, our rights and dignity are not fully protected by the law, and, in fact, there are fierce movements that seek to oppress and marginalize us and our relationships.

So, while we have seen tremendous progress in the fight for LGBTQ equality, inclusion, and rights in the United States, the reality is that we are incredibly far from being fully equal in every realm of society. And that is why pride is so important.

 



For many LGBTQ people, pride is the one time of the year that they can be out and proud of who they are and who they love. It’s the one time of year that they can stand boldly in the streets with droves of other queer individuals, proclaiming that we are fully human and deserve to be celebrated and uplifted just like everyone else. Even in cities that are seen as LGBTQ friendly, it is still an incredibly healing experience to get to march in parades or attend festivals where thousands upon thousands of LGBTQ people are letting their lights shine before all people without fear. Pride is often the beginning of the process of healing from the trauma inflicted on us by our heterosexist, patriarchal society. Pride is a time where we step out of the shadows and declare that we will no longer forced to suppress our truest selves because of heterosexual fragility and fear.

Now, of course, in the midst of all of the deeper causes and meanings behind pride, it is also, most importantly, a time of celebration. It’s a time to party, to relax, and to let loose in public, which is something that heterosexual and cisgender people get to do every single day of the year, but something that LGBTQ people simply don’t get to do. So yes, people of all shapes, sizes, religions, ethnicities, races, and cultures will be marching through the streets shirtless, and perhaps even pantless (hello speedos!) but this has a lot less to do with LGBTQ being hyper-sexual or promiscuous. Instead, it’s a radical display of liberation and safety, a time to let our bodies and lives be seen as the beautiful displays of creativity and majesty that they are- something, again, that straight people get to see and do every single day.

 

Pride marches and festivals were started as subversive displays of light in the midst of the darkness of heternormitivty and hatred, and today, for many, if not most LGBTQ people, they still retain this important meaning and power. Though they may look like giant parties in the street, take a second and think about what it feels like to march through a city, freely expressing who you are, whom you love, and what you desire for the first time without fearing that you’ll be accosted, abused, or mocked. Think about all of the children and teenagers who know they are LGBTQ but cannot even begin to fathom taking a step out of the closet for fear of abuse from their families, churches, or peers, who look out at those celebrating pride and see a glimpse of hope that things can get better, and that they can be free, safe, and celebrated for who they are. That is the power of pride, and that’s why pride month is so damn important.

 



So, if you’re a straight person and you’re finding yourself perplexed by the pride celebrations taking place in your city this year, stop and remember that you get to live out and proud every single day without fear, without oppression, and without even thinking about it. That is a unique gift that majority of LGBTQ people have never gotten to experience. Think about all of the hurdles to equality that still exist in our nation, and the trauma that so many LGBTQ people have faced simply because of who they are or who they love. And as you reflect on the reality of LGBTQ people, I hope you begin to realize the importance and power of pride, and perhaps will even decide to pick up a rainbow flag and stand on the sidelines cheering on your local LGBTQ community as they fearlessly express their beauty in your community.

 

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Still I Rise: A Look at the LGBTQ Struggle

Sage Advice to Young Queers From a Gay Elder

We're Living LGBTQ History: Will We Remember It?

 

 

Message to the Little Boy Playing with Barbies


By Seamus Kirst / Journalist, Essayist, Author / September 2017

 

When I was a little boy I loved to play with Barbies and dolls. Though my parents were supportive and loving, they could not shield me from the world. It didn’t take long for me to realize these toys weren’t meant for me, whatever that means. It didn’t take long for me to realize I risked verbal lashings or physical violence from other kids if I didn’t learn the role I was meant to play.

So, I played with Barbies and dolls in secret, behind locked doors and under covers, always scared that I would get caught. I was terrified of what it meant that I liked “girl toys” instead of those that were meant for boys, and confused about how my childlike inclinations could make grown adults so ill at ease.

I wish I could go back, knowing what I know now, and tell that little boy a few things. I wish I could tell him that he need not feel shame for doing what makes him happy, and that people being uncomfortable about what toys he plays with only speaks volumes about them, and reflects nothing about him. I wish I could tell him all of the times life was going to try to tell him to be one way, and how he always had the option to be himself. I wish I could tell him not to waste his time pretending to have crushes on girls, or forcing himself to walk with what he thought was the gait of a man, or feeling angry that these things did not come naturally to him. I wish I could tell him that while the threats of violence he feared are real, and that he would be called a ‘faggot’ more than once (lots more than once) or made to feel ‘less than’ based on something he could not control, that he would one day create a life where he felt comfortable being who he was.

I wish I could tell him that he wasn’t alone, and that he’d never been alone. I wish I could tell him there were people at that moment who were fighting and risking their lives to make things better for him, and that one day it would be his job to do the same thing for the other people who needed it.


I wish I could tell him that the world was big, and not always so scary, and it would one day open like an oyster, despite the times he tried to close it, and that he deserves love from other people, yes, but most importantly, from himself.
 


 

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James Corden's Tribute to Transgender Troops
Changing: Trans Teen Music Video

 

My Proud Life as a Gay Stereotype

By Michael Musto / Village Voice / July 2017

I’ve written before about how I happen to unwittingly fulfill various clichés of the single, witty (I hope) gay man in the corner, and how I’ve gradually come to terms with my plight. But on reflection, it goes far beyond all that. In fact, I’m clearly a living, breathing monument to all kinds of gay stereotypes—just about every one you can think of, though I certainly didn’t plan any of this; in fact, I’m basically a self-made personality who grew up with no out gay role models and had to form my persona from instinct. I’m proud of myself for being out and vocal, and if I fit too neatly into certain gay slots, at least I do it my way. But there’s no denying that I’m as stereotypical as an interior decorator with a lisp and a handbag. Let me lay it all out for you, in stereotypical fashion:

 

--I love show tunes! I can’t help it, but I’m a clichéd theater queen who lives for a good musical. I grew up watching excerpts from Broadway musicals on TV variety shows, longing to see them in person because I knew their glitzy spunk would lift me out of my shell and drive me way over the top. Alas, the first show I was taken to see was Man of La Mancha, a muddy, moody, very brown enterprise that wasn’t exactly what the gay doctor ordered. But in the following decade, when I caught the original productions of A Chorus Line and Chicago in the same year, my head spun from the joy, invention, and musicianship on display. That cemented my theater queen status for all time, and now there’s never a musical I miss—including the one about Tourette’s syndrome a few years back. And I stayed for Act Two!

 

 

--I live for divas! I love a good, strong, glittery female performer—any time, any place. Even back in the Broadway shows I mentioned, it was the women—Donna McKechnie, Gwen Verdon, Chita Rivera—who made my blood boil with excitement. There’s nothing more fun for me than a peppy, funny, powerful lady with pipes and personality, whether it be Judy, Barbra, Liza, Diana, Madonna, Rihanna, or Gaga. And what could be more stereotypical than that?

 

--I’m terrible at sports! At school, I used to dread having to go on the parallel bars or be thrown into the pool. I eventually managed to get into the school orchestra, partly so that would give me an out from having to go to gym class. But that didn’t mean my torture had ended--hardly. In the schoolyard, I was not even the last one chosen when the kids divvied up teams. After they picked everyone they wanted, they would simply leave me there, as unselected as non-organic kale! There was a brief period when I became interested in the New York Mets, mainly because it was a way to bond with my father, but watching them play was as far as I was going to go when it came to participatory sports. And as the world’s perception of gays in sports kept evolving and gay didn’t equal klutzy anymore, I stubbornly clung to my pathetic-ness, more of an old stereotype than ever. Even a game of Chess is too strenuous for me. But at least when all the gays started obsessively working out, I only went to the gym a total of four times. Dodged a stereotype that time!

 

 

--I adore campy movies. My favorite kinds of movies aren’t necessarily the Oscar winners—they’re glossy, overproduced, hyper-acted “trash” like Valley of the Dolls, Mahogany, and Mommie Dearest. Watching these godforsaken gems over and over again, I can’t even see anything wrong with them. They are pure joy and work for me on every level, from fashion show to cautionary tale and beyond. I’d go so far as to say they’re good. Stereotype, anyone?

 

--I live for the nightlife. Like a good (clichéd) gay, I can’t get enough of bars, even after all these years. I break the mold in that I don’t drink or dance, so I’m definitely a stranger in a strange land, but still, I ritualistically feed off the ambience of nightspots where slightly cracked but fascinating people get together to let out their ya-yas and express themselves. And if that makes me a stereotype, so be it.

 

 

So there you have it. I’m an old school gay cliché from my asymmetrically coiffed head to my ultra light loafers. And rather than crawl under a gay rock about it, I’ve decided to embrace my status because it’s not a choice, and besides, “stereotypical” behavior is often stuff that emerges as a direct result of being gay. When I was growing up, “sissies” weren’t generally chosen to play on teams (as I mentioned), which certainly dampened our interest in sports. And “sissies” like me escaped into divas and show biz and playing parts in school plays (and instruments in the orchestra), where we could pretend to be someone else, while gleefully making our own kind of music. Also, we learned to cultivate our witty, cutely catty sides in order to get positive attention and be popular at gatherings—it was always the wit of the outsider, gaining access to the mainstream through zingy intellect. And speaking of gatherings, we eventually immersed ourselves in nightlife because there, we found other like-minded, damaged but lovable weirdos who suddenly belonged because we’d created a family of fabulous freaks. If that all makes me a stereotype, so be it.

 

After all, some stereotypes happen to be endearing (we’re real people, not just formulas with bank accounts), as long as you bring some originality to them. And I know I do! Yes, I’m stereotypically smug too.

 

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Boy George Covers YMCA

TED Talk: This is What LGBTQ Life is Like Around the World

Why Pride: Explanation for Straight People
Changing: Trans Teen Music Video

 

Why We Won't Go Back

By Jared Milrad / Actor, Writer, Lawyer, Entrepreneur / December 2016

The last decade was a time of historic progress for our country. Now, as 2016 comes to a close, we have come upon an uncertain crossroads: whether to return to a time of even greater discrimination and inequality, or to declare with one clear voice that We Won’t Go Back.

 

Late in the night of November 8, as I stood beneath the Jacob Javits Center’s towering glass ceiling in Manhattan alongside my husband, Nate, that crossroads came into clear view. A few steps away, a little girl was sobbing on the floor. She had spent hours coloring a map of the United States, atop which large, colorful crayon print read, “Hillary for President.” By then, the map had more red than blue, and we realized that little girl’s wishes (and more than half of the country’s) were not to be. As we exited the building amid fallen American flags and discarded “Clinton/Kaine” buttons, I unconsciously whispered, “It feels like we’re in an alternate universe.”

That sentiment was certainly shared by millions of my fellow citizens November 8. But for me, the outcome of the electoral vote soon felt both very personal and real, that somehow the collective decision of more than 62 million strangers was a recalibration of everything I thought true about my country. Perhaps this was because, like many other young people, I had volunteered and worked for Barack Obama even before he decided to run for president, holding a “Draft Obama” sign on the frozen streets of Manchester, NH, working for his campaign in 2008 and 2012, and later in the White House.

 

Then, on New Year's Eve in 2012, I had asked my fiancé to marry me inside the historic Stonewall Inn, the site of the origin story for the modern LGBTQ movement. And just over a year before walking inside the Javits Center, I married my husband in front of our friends and family, equal in their eyes, but also equal in the eyes of the country I love.

Suddenly, on November 8, 2016, the progress that I felt in my own life seemed to be reversed by 46 percent of the electorate, and many of the reasons why are well documented.

Donald Trump is assembling one of the most anti-LGBTQ Administrations in modern American history. Jeff Sessions, Betsy DeVos, Ben Carson, James Mattis, and many others filling his Cabinet (without even mentioning the abysmal record of Vice President-elect Mike Pence) have categorically opposed equality for years. And then there’s the troubling rise of hate crimes since the election; the disconcerting spike of calls to suicide hotlines, many of them LGBTQ; and the elevation of a candidate who has personally promoted bigotry, misogyny, and division throughout his entire pursuit of elective office. Surely, these developments were more than enough to keep millions of my peers and me curled up in a fetal position for a few days in early November.

Yet in the thick of my vow never to leave my house again, I was reminded of the words of the legendary LGBTQ activist Sylvia Rivera: “Hell hath no fury like a drag queen scorned.” Said differently: We Won’t Go Back.

Surely, those four words must have motivated great Americans like Sylvia, when she rioted for justice in front of Stonewall; they must have inspired Harvey Milk when he confronted likely death to tell us that we must “never be silent”; and they surely gave James Baldwin solace when he said, bravely, “Love him and let him love you. Do you think anything else under heaven really matters?”

 

For me, We Won’t Go Back not only summed up the LGBTQ struggle to come, but also the African-American, Latino, immigrant, American, and human struggle as well. As soon as I said those four words out loud at the end of that long week in November, I again found hope. So I created a campaign with the same name to give Americans of all backgrounds the opportunity to fight for the highest ideals of the country they love.

We Won’t Go Back is now a place to contact our elected officials; to support the causes we believe in; to organize, volunteer, and get registered to vote; and to build an inclusive, hopeful future. Most importantly, I hope We Won’t Go Back enables new voices to be heard and stories to be told. Using #WeWontGoBack, you can tweet, write, or record a video telling the world why you won’t go back, what you’re fighting for, and what’s at stake for you, your family, and your community.

As one of our supporters said, “I won’t go back because I’ve fought so long to be here.” Indeed, we all have. And we’ve come too far to turn back now.

 

TED Talk: The Gift of Living Gay

 

Here’s Why We Grieve Today

By John Pavlovitz / Pastor of North Raleigh Community Church / November 2016

I don’t think you understand us right now. I think you think this is about politics. I think you believe this is all just sour grapes; the crocodile tears of the losing locker room with the scoreboard going against us at the buzzer. I can only tell you that you’re wrong. This is not about losing an election. This isn’t about not winning a contest. This is about two very different ways of seeing the world.

Hillary supporters believe in a diverse America; one where religion or skin color or sexual orientation or place of birth aren’t liabilities or deficiencies or moral defects. Her campaign was one of inclusion and connection and interdependency. It was about building bridges and breaking ceilings. It was about going high.

 

Trump supporters believe in a very selective America; one that is largely white and straight and Christian, and the voting verified this. Donald Trump has never made any assertions otherwise. He ran a campaign of fear and exclusion and isolation, and that’s the vision of the world those who voted for him have endorsed.

They have aligned with the wall-builder and the professed pussy-grabber, and they have co-signed his body of work, regardless of the reasons they give for their vote:

Every horrible thing Donald Trump ever said about women or Muslims or people of color has now been validated. Every profanity-laced press conference and every call to bully protestors and every ignorant diatribe has been endorsed. Every piece of anti-LGBTQ legislation Mike Pence has championed has been signed-off on. Half of our country has declared these things acceptable, noble, American.

This is the disconnect and the source of our grief today. It isn’t a political defeat that we’re lamenting, it’s a defeat for Humanity. We’re not angry that our candidate lost. We’re angry because our candidate’s losing means this country will be less safe, less kind, and less available to a huge segment of its population, and that’s just the truth.

Those who have always felt vulnerable are now left more so. Those whose voices have been silenced will be further quieted. Those who always felt marginalized will be pushed further to the periphery. Those who feared they were seen as inferior now have confirmation in actual percentages. Those things have essentially been campaign promises of Donald Trump, and so many of our fellow citizens have said this is what they want too.

 



This has never been about politics.
This is not about one candidate over the other.
It’s not about one’s ideas over another’s.
It is not blue vs. red.
It’s not her emails vs. his bad language.
It’s not her dishonesty vs. his indecency.
It’s about overt racism and hostility toward minorities.
It’s about religion being weaponized.
It’s about crassness and vulgarity and disregard for women.
It’s about a barricaded, militarized, bully nation.
It’s about an unapologetic, open-faced ugliness.

And it is not only that these things have been ratified by our nation that grieve us; all this hatred, fear, racism, bigotry, and intolerance, it’s knowing that these things have been amen-ed by our neighbors, our families, our friends, those we work with and worship alongside. That is the most horrific thing of all. We now know how close this.

It feels like living in enemy territory being here now, and there’s no way around that. We wake up today in a home we no longer recognize. We are grieving the loss of a place we used to love but no longer do. This may be America today but it is not the America we believe in or recognize or want.

This is not about a difference of political opinion, as that’s far too small to mourn over. It’s about a fundamental difference in how we view the worth of all people, not just those who look or talk or think or vote the way we do.

Grief always laments what might have been, the future we were robbed of, the tomorrow that we won’t get to see, and that is what we walk through today. As a nation we had an opportunity to affirm the beauty of our diversity this day, to choose ideas over sound bytes, to let everyone know they had a place at the table, to be the beacon of goodness and decency we imagine that we are, and we said no.

The Scriptures say that weeping endures for a night but joy comes in the morning. We can’t see that dawn coming any time soon. And this is why we grieve.
 

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TED Talk: Accepting My Transgender Daughter

The People for Whom Human Rights Have No Meaning

Celebrating Marriage Equality

Deciding Who We Are

TED Talk: Danger of Hiding Who You Are

The Frozen Conflict of LGBTQ Rights

 

If Loving You is Wrong: Letter to My Partner

 

By Pam Rocker / Huffington Post / May 2016

On our first date, you may have thought it was oddly endearing that I explained the Stonewall riots in detail and railed against anti-gay Texan politicians. Over romantic candlelight, you held my hand gently as I criticized the Pope and quoted homophobic lines from his last three speeches. To my surprise, you stayed for dessert, looked into my eyes and simply listened. I can’t remember what I ranted about during the peach cobbler.

 



Miraculously, hundreds of dinners later, you still listen to me. Sometimes softly nodding and sometimes screaming in unison against the realities of injustice. I love you for this but I can’t help but wonder — what would we have time to talk about if being ourselves was universally accepted? If we didn’t have to fight? If we didn’t hold our breath every time “Christians” debated what we’re allowed to do and where we’re allowed to go to the bathroom? What would we do with all the extra time? Would we take up gardening? Probably not. But we could. We’d have the option.

Remember that time when we were walking in the mall and a guy yelled right in our faces because we were holding hands? For months after that, whenever we held hands, I felt this tug on my heart, a twinge of anger, a surge of adrenalin, bracing myself for it to happen again. It was such a small thing in comparison to what other people have gone through, and even that broke my heart. It’s horrific that something as simple and sacred as holding your hand would make me worry about our safety. I can’t help but wonder — what would holding your hand feel like if I never had to wonder?

 



Don’t get me wrong, I love being gay. Especially with you. If I wasn’t gay when I met you, I would choose to be gay in a second. There’s just no way around it. And I know I am privileged in many ways. I am/we are lucky. Still, pieces of our lives are stolen without our consent, because we are forced to pause. To stop and read article after article after article, poring over legislation and resolutions about how our love may put us in danger.

We sign petitions and come out over and over again and worry about our LGBTQ friends in other countries and ask and ask and ask people to not get tired of caring because we are tired as hell. It’s not that I don’t want to care. I just don’t want to care about THIS.

Our love story should be about celebration, not avoidance of tragedy. Because we are far more than that. I just want to know what it’s like to not have our relationship be the target of political or religious ammunition. I want to stop defending our existence. We could use that extra time to do whatever we wanted. How glorious it would be to eat Kraft dinner at midnight with nothing interesting to talk about! How wonderful to open our newsfeed and be bored by the lack of controversy then watch Netflix together! How beautiful it would be to hold your hand and never wonder.

But until then... thank you. For being next to me for the desperate sighs and the 2am tap-tap-tap typing of letters to editors. For being next to me for all of the victories and rainbow colored picket signs and lesbian activist potlucks. Maybe one day we’ll get all of that time back, but in the meantime, I’ll take whatever time I can have with you.

If Loving You is Wrong: A Letter to My Partner

 

 

Message to the Orlando Shooter

 

By Kevin Chorlins / June 2016

You tried but you foolishly came after the wrong community. You forgot we wake up every day to face a world that is against us. You failed to consider that living our lives takes much more than just bravery. It takes blistering defiance.

You may come into our sanctuaries of safety and shoot 103 of us, but you forgot; we’ve been tortured, tormented, thrown off buildings, gassed, stripped of our rights, tied to fences and beaten.

You underestimated our defiance. And every time one of us dies, suffers or gets marginalized, we get that much more defiant. This weekend we got 103 times more defiant.

We sob for the loss, but our wounds will heal. And we will continue to defy you with grace, compassion, inclusion, celebration, joy, humor, creativity, peaceful assembly and protest in the way only our community can. That’s how we defy. We defy every day by unapologetically living our lives in a world that’s against us.

 



We don’t kill. We don’t terrorize. It’s pure weakness.

You forgot where we came from. You failed to see where we are now.

You forgot that no one will ever stifle our defiance. No terrorist. No legislator. No presidential candidate. No bully. No zealot. No one.

We’ve never been more defiant than we are today. Your plan failed. Now we will stand taller. We will be prouder. We will dance freely in our clubs. We will get loud. We will hold hands in public, even if we don’t feel safe. We will spit in the face of bigotry.

This weekend we got 103 times more defiant. You failed.

 

TED Talk: Fifty Shades of Gay

US News: American Culture War

Millennials Support Full LGBTQ Rights

Rolling Stone: Worst States for LGBTQ People

TED Talk: Why Am I So Gay?

 

The LGBTQ Movement is Not Just About Sexuality

By Stephanie Farnsworth / Charity Worker, LGBTQ Rights Activist / January 2016

For a great number of people their sexual orientation does match their romantic orientation -- but not always. The LGBTQ movement has managed to conflate sexual and romantic orientation through the decades and yet this risks leaving many people confused about where exactly they fit.

The narrow definitions and conflation of identities have been so clearly shown by the treatment of aromantic and asexual people within the LGBTQ community. Aro and ace communities have been far better at recognizing different nuances of identities than the wider LGBTQ movement. The grey scale is a term in itself which clearly shows the wonderful world of complicated and personal identities. It is an acceptance that there are not just 'on' or 'off' switches with sexuality and romantic experiences. Yet ace and aro people face erasure regularly within the LGBTQ community. Conversations are designed around sexuality, the right to always have sex but excluding those who do not have the same desires. It is all about sex with members of the same gender. Queer spaces are so often simply pulling spaces, particularly when centered around alcohol.

 



LGBTQ people do need places to fulfill sexual and romantic desires free from harassment but that shouldn't be the sole focus of spaces claiming to be for all identities. We also need to address our terms, not only is crying that we're for 'the freedom of love' incorrect as it erases trans people, but it also erases aromantic people which immediately says that this movement is not for them.

The shift to make LGBTQ politics respectable has risked abandoning many people who should be embraced into the community. The constant focus on presenting LGBTQ people as always in stable, loving, same gender relationships (especially marriages) and with children presents a very one dimensional idea of who belongs in this community. If you don't want a romantic relationship but just want sexual partners then there is the implication that you're doing harm to the reputation of the community. If you don't want sexual relationships with someone of the same gender then the implication is you don't fit in at all. Everything is designed around making LGBTQ people's presentation as acceptable as possible to cisgender heterosexual people.

This is also an issue for many who do not identify as asexual or aromantic. For instance: it is entirely possible to experience sexual attraction to one gender but romantic attraction to another gender. One may be heterosexual but that doesn't mean that are automatically heteroromantic. I myself am bisexual yet homoromantic (although because I experience romantic attraction exclusively to women then that means I often find far more acceptance in the LGBTQ community than other bisexual women I know because they are heteroromantic).

 



The LGBTQ world has become a marketing machine. Our images and PR campaigns whether it comes to marriage equality or floats at Pride have become carefully crafted over the years. Gone are the radical political elements that wanted to smash binaries and capitalism and in its place is the LGBTQ happy family presented in a very narrow and manipulated way.

LGBTQ organizations have become solely focused on selling the Disney story: where two white, middle class cis guys or two cis girls fall in love, get married and have wonderful children. We've forgotten why we started this fight. It was not for cis, straight, white, middle class people to finally be able to tolerate us but for the complete liberation from narrow binaries and prejudices that dominate society. It was not just for 'gay love' but for people to be treated and recognized as human beings who deserve nothing more or less than total respect for their identities. It was for all those outside of the norms society tried to force upon us and that includes all of the variations of sexual and romantic attractions that are not solely heterosexual or heteroromantic.
 

The Year to Be Queer

Why I Am Coming Out Now

Why We Won't Go Back

Why I Must Come Out

What Could a Gay Utopia Teach Urban America?

What Has and Has Not Changed

 

 

Witness to Extraordinary History

By Chris Gregoire / Governor of Washington / December 2012

We have few occasions in life to be witness to extraordinary history. This is one of those days. Today same-sex couples in Washington are getting married under a law approved by the voters. For the first time in the United States, their marriage is legal not because of actions by legislatures or courts but because their equal rights were affirmed by their peers across the state at the ballot box. That shift is momentous and one of which I am incredibly proud.

On election night I was overcome by emotion as I took the stage for a celebration of our state's same-sex marriage efforts. I looked out over a crowd of several thousand who had fought so hard for this moment. They were young and old, families and couples, military members past and present, businesspeople and public servants, of all races and all backgrounds, and for the first time marriage equality was within their reach. It was the most memorable moments in my 20 years in elected office.
 

Like any journey, ours was one of a million steps by thousands of everyday people. Nearly 25 years ago Washington elected the first openly gay member of our legislature, Cal Anderson. Today, 17 years after his death, Cal's dream has been realized. We stand on his shoulders and the shoulders of so many who brought us to this point.

 



In Seattle the first couple to receive their marriage license had been together for 35 years. Today, after a very long engagement, they are getting married. Across Washington similar stories abound. Hundreds stood in line overnight so that they would not have to wait a moment longer for the rights they deserve. Within the first 24 hours more than 800 same-sex couples applied for marriage licenses.

Just as importantly, the voters have told all our families that they are equal under the law. They told the children of same-sex families that their parents' love is not different. To the parents who have fought so fiercely for the rights of their much-loved gay and lesbian children, Washington said they, too, will someday witness their son's or daughter's wedding. And we told the young people out there who are wondering about their future that it does in fact get better, that they will have the chance to grow up in a state that loves and values them for who they are, not for whom they love.

As my own daughters taught me, this is indeed the civil rights issue of our time. There will come a time when, across our country, the ability to marry the person you love will not be an issue. Future generations will look back and wonder why we ever denied this basic human right. We can't rest until that moment. I will be with you every step of the way.

 

TED Talk: LGBTQ Pastor's Journey

NY Times: Corrosive Politics That Threaten LGBTQ Americans

The LGBTQ Movement is in Chaos

NY Times: The Big Sway

TED Talk: Coming Out of the Closet

Coming out as a Christian

Where Would MLK Have Stood on Marriage Equality?

TED Talk: Some Boys Are Born Girls

 

Congress Needs to Pass Employment Non-Discrimination Act

By President Barack Obama / November 2013

Here in the United States, we're united by a fundamental principle: we're all created equal and every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law. We believe that no matter who you are, if you work hard and play by the rules, you deserve the chance to follow your dreams and pursue your happiness. That's America's promise.

 

That's why, for instance, Americans can't be fired from their jobs just because of the color of their skin or for being Christian or Jewish or a woman or an individual with a disability. That kind of discrimination has no place in our nation. And yet, right now, in 2013, in many states a person can be fired simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. As a result, millions of LGBTQ Americans go to work every day fearing that, without any warning, they could lose their jobs -- not because of anything they've done, but simply because of who they are. It's offensive. It's wrong. And it needs to stop, because in the United States of America, who you are and who you love should never be a fireable offense.

 

That's why Congress needs to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, also known as ENDA, which would provide strong federal protections against discrimination, making it explicitly illegal to fire someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Americans ought to be judged by one thing only in their workplaces: their ability to get their jobs done. Does it make a difference if the firefighter who rescues you is gay -- or the accountant who does your taxes, or the mechanic who fixes your car? If someone works hard every day, does everything he or she is asked, is responsible and trustworthy and a good colleague, that's all that should matter.

 

 

Business agrees. The majority of Fortune 500 companies and small businesses already have nondiscrimination policies that protect LGBTQ employees. These companies know that it's both the right thing to do and makes good economic sense. They want to attract and retain the best workers, and discrimination makes it harder to do that. So too with our nation. If we want to create more jobs and economic growth and keep our country competitive in the global economy, we need everyone working hard, contributing their ideas, and putting their abilities to use doing what they do best. We need to harness the creativity and talents of every American.

 

So I urge the Senate to vote yes on ENDA and the House of Representatives to do the same. America is at a turning point. We're not only becoming more accepting and loving as a people, we're becoming more just as a nation. But we still have a way to go before our laws are equal to our Founding ideals. As I said in my second inaugural address, our nation's journey toward equality isn't complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.

 

In America of all places, people should be judged on the merits: on the contributions they make in their workplaces and communities, and on what Martin Luther King Jr. called "the content of their character." That's what ENDA helps us do. When Congress passes it, I will sign it into law, and our nation will be fairer and stronger for generations to come.

 

TED Talk: Problems Facing LGBTQ Youth Today

CNN: We Have a Role in Fight Against LGBTQ Discrimination

Teen Ink: LGBTQ Equality Rights

TED Talk: Why Am I So Gay?

People Guess the Sexual Orientation of Strangers

Voice of America: The LGBTQ Debate

TED Talk: Myths of Gay Adoption

NY Times: Challenges That Remain for LGBTQ People

Catholics Should Accept and Love All LGBTQ People

 

By James Martin / Jesuit Priest / June 2017

 

Last year, a gunman stormed into the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, a place frequented by many in the gay community, and killed 49 people. It was the largest mass murder in US history. In response, many religious leaders expressed sympathy for the people of Orlando, as well as for the LGBTQ community.

 

Many Catholic leaders did the same. But of the over 250 Catholic bishops in this country, only a handful mentioned the words gay or LGBTQ. It was as if speaking those words would signal a tacit approval of a group that the Catholic Church has long held at arm’s length. To me, it was a confirmation of what many Catholics already knew: There is no group more marginalized in the church today than the LGBTQ community. Even in death they remained invisible.

 

 

In my almost 30 years as a Jesuit priest, I have heard the most appalling stories of LGBTQ people being ignored, excluded and insulted by the church. Last week I received a message from someone who said that a gay friend of hers was dying in a hospice in the Southwest US. Did I know, she wondered, a priest who would pray with him? The priest assigned to the hospice, she said, was refusing to. Because he was gay.  How unchristian this is! And how unlike what Jesus would want us to do.

 

In some parts of the Gospels, Jesus’s actions remain somewhat mysterious. Or open for interpretation. And the question “What would Jesus do?” can occasionally be hard to answer. But one thing about his ministry is clear: Jesus continually reached out to people who were on the margins of society--men and women who were ignored, excluded and insulted. Much like LGBTQ people are today.

 

The Gospel of Luke recounts the story of Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector in the ancient city of Jericho. In that time and culture, because he would have been colluding with Rome, he would also have been seen as the “chief sinner” in the city. Zacchaeus, described as “short in stature,” climbs a sycamore tree to “see who Jesus was,” as the miracle worker from Nazareth passed through his town.

 

When Jesus spies the tax collector perched in the tree, he doesn’t shout out, “Sinner!” He says something more surprising. “Hurry and come down,” says Jesus, “for I must stay at your house today.”  What’s he doing? He is offering Zacchaeus a public sign of welcome.  The townspeople “grumble,” the Gospel tells us. They don’t like what Jesus is doing. In response, Zacchaeus “stands his ground” and says he will repay all his debts. So for Jesus, it is usually community first, conversion second. Welcome comes first.

 

Catholics are growing in their recognition of the need to welcome their LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Why? Mainly because more of their family members and friends are coming out, and being open about their sexuality and identity. A few decades ago many Catholics would have considered themselves “safe” from the “problem” of LGBTQ people. No longer.

 

A few months ago, after a talk at Yale University’s Catholic Center, an elderly woman approached me. With white hair and a twinkle in her eye, she looked like the quintessential grandmother. I had just given a lecture on a book I had written on Jesus, so I thought that she would say something like, “I just made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.” Or “Let me tell you my favorite Gospel passage.” Instead she said something surprising.

 

“Father,” she said, “my grandchild is transgender, and I love her so much. All I want for her is to know that God loves her, and that she’s welcome in our church.”  A few years ago, her grandchild may never have shared that with her. So for this elderly woman the issue of LGBTQ people might have remained one that did not touch her life. But today more and more Catholics are affected.

 

This means that ministering to LGBTQ Catholics means ministering not simply to the relatively small percentage of Catholics who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, but to a whole constellation of people touched by the issue: grandparents and parents, aunts and uncles, sisters and brothers, college roommates, coworkers, friends and fellow parishioners.

 

Why should Catholics accept and love LGBTQ people? For countless reasons, but let me suggest three. First, they are our brothers and sisters. Second, Jesus would ask us to reach out specifically to those who feel they are on the margins, and today this means LGBTQ person. Third, and most importantly, for Jesus there is no one who is outside the community. There is no one who is “other.” For Jesus, there is no us and them. There is only us.

 

TED Talk: Fifty Shades of Gay

US News: American Culture War

Millennials Support Full LGBTQ Rights

Rolling Stone: Worst States for LGBTQ People

TED Talk: Why Am I So Gay?

 

Gay is Good for America

By Nathaniel Frank / Slate Magazine / September 2012

At their convention, Democrats finally say it loud and clear. More than a dozen speakers mentioned LGBTQ equality on the first two nights of the Democratic convention, including Michelle Obama, who positioned marriage equality as a new ingredient of American greatness: “If proud Americans can be who they are and boldly stand at the altar with who they love, then surely, surely we can give everyone in this country a fair chance at that great American Dream.” Openly gay speakers are getting primetime billing. A record-setting 8 percent of delegates are LGBTQ. The party’s unprecedented embrace of gay equality comes a week after Joe Biden thanked gay rights advocates in Provincetown for “freeing the soul of the American people.” The gay rights movement, said the vice president, was advancing the “civil rights of every straight American.” For gay people’s “courage,” he said, “We owe you.”

There you have it: For the first time ever, Democrats at their most public, high-profile moment are treating gay rights as a political winner. They’re moving along with public opinion: In the latest Harris Interactive poll, 52 percent of likely voters favored same-sex marriage, including 70 percent of Democrats and 55 percent of independents.

 



If the gay love affair is part political calculation, it also reflects a lesson from both American history and queer theory: minorities need not always conform to the majority, and their advances can actually make things better for everyone. This message helps rewrite the false script conservatives have created (with too much help from liberals) that representing the needs of minorities is mere interest-group politics, the doling out of goodies in exchange for votes.

Instead, equality is increasingly—and correctly—cast as a means of improving not only the lot of minorities, but the country for us all. New York magazine recently reported the trend of a growing number of straight couples quoting gay marriage court decisions in their own wedding ceremonies. Expanding access appears to be rejuvenating rather than destroying the institution. As Slate reported earlier this year, statistics bear this out. The marriage rate in Massachusetts, the first state to allow gay couples to wed, actually went up in the years same-sex marriage became legal, even adjusting for the initial 16 percent increase caused by pent-up demand by gay couples waiting to wed. What’s more, in each of the five states that legalized same-sex marriage starting in 2004, divorce rates dropped even while the average rate across the country rose. These figures give the lie to breathless warnings that same-sex marriage will harm marriage. Also, an estimated 2 million kids have a parent who is LGBTQ, and a subset of them have two gay parents who are raising them together—for all the reasons conservatives praise marriage, these kids benefit when their parents can make their commitments legal, another benefit to LGBTQ equality that goes beyond the rights of gays themselves.

Add to the list the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The policy deprived the nation of thousands of capable service members across its 17 years—on average, two were kicked out every day, at a taxpayer cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. Many were mission-critical specialists with skills like Arabic translation and counterterrorism expertise. Today our military can harness that talent. And now that the controversy has been resolved, elite colleges that used to supply our military with top talent are again welcoming recruiters whom they’d moved off campus due to their discriminatory policy.

Equal rights fosters openness, which has positive fallout of its own. There are no doubt fewer sham marriages than there were in the 1950s. Gay-straight friendships are more authentic without a lifelong secret blocking discussion about love and intimacy. Straight men are likely more forgiving of their own nonconformist impulses—perhaps including passing same-sex desires. Parents have fewer estranged relations with sons and daughters whose deepest secrets and fears they once could never know, and whose struggles with depression and loneliness they sought in vain to understand. And the nation has embarked on an important discussion about bullying and youth suicide that stands to have real benefits for all young people, not just LGBTQ ones, who feel despair because they sense they are different or alone.

 



The principle that minority equality helps the majority was one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s most important insights during the black civil rights movement. “The stirring lesson of this age,” King declared, “is that mass nonviolent direct action is not a peculiar device for Negro agitation,” but a “method for defending freedom and democracy, and for enlarging these values for the benefit of the whole society.” As the historian, Taylor Branch has explained, “The civil rights movement liberated segregationists themselves,” just as King had theorized. Racial terrorism dropped and integration led to business growth and a decline in poverty. Enfranchised black voters helped revive a genuine two-party political system in the South as the politics of white supremacy faded. Meritocracy replaced arbitrary exclusion.

In 2009, Brent Childers, a Southern Baptist and onetime anti-gay bigot, wrote movingly in Newsweek of the kind of personal liberation that both King and Biden described: “Once I walked away from the Church’s teachings of rejection and condemnation [of gay people], my relationship with God transcended to a higher spiritual plateau.” Childers’ religious transformation is a secular experience for many others. But the point is the same. Americans suffer for holding prejudices that we know enough to shed. The souls of Americans really do need freeing. And the battle for gay rights is helping. It’s good for the Democrats that they’ve figured this out. More importantly, it's good for the country.

 

TED Talk: Fifty Shades of Gay

US News: American Culture War

People Guess the Sexual Orientation of Strangers

Millennials Support Full LGBTQ Rights

Rolling Stone: Worst States for LGBT People

TED Talk: Why Am I So Gay?

 

The Places I Have Come Out

By J.E. Reich / Huffington Post / October 2013

In the school library. My father is away at a conference for a distant summer in Germany. He will be the hardest to tell, I reason, for the missed linguistic cues, the generational gap as precarious as a lion's hinging jaw, or, rather, because he just doesn't get it. It's a safe bet. I write him a 10-page email, glancing at the other computer carrels. Due to competing time zones, I receive his response the next morning: "Surprised, but not shocked. Love, Dad."

In a vestibular instant messenger window, to the girl who will become my first girlfriend. We will break up eight months later, over a girl from Connecticut whom she meets in an online forum. Like other lesbians I know, we remain close friends to this day.

 



On the front porch of my mother's house, coiled on a swing. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. In the spirit of the high holidays, in the spirit of atonement, I confess my predilections to her. These things weren't supposed to happen to her, she says. This isn't what she envisioned for me. "You're not gay." She repeats it until the words are kite tassels fluting upwards beyond our heads.

Sitting at my desk in Dr. F's AP European History course. My friend E is sick of my whining. "You need to get laid" is the underlying sentiment of her diagnosis. The solution becomes a coming-out party. There will be wine, pilfered from the cabinets of a St. Patrick's Day house party, where D snowboarded down the stairs and I accidentally broke a futon bed, and where it turned out that the host was actually the house sitter and got sent to a juvenile detention center the next morning, after she was discovered cradling a jar of peanut butter amidst broken bottles. So wine from that party, and a chocolate fondue fountain. E turns to a classmate of ours, asks if she knows that I'm gay. The classmate is baffled. "We're having a party," says E, "and you're on the guest list." By the end of the day, we have the venue at H's dad's house -- he'll be out of town -- but in the end the party does not occur, and now everyone knows.

At my mother's book club. People talk.

On the back couch in Harrison's Cafe, after hours in the vacant, locked-up shop. I reassure her that it's not an experiment. Afterwards, we cruise around in her father's pickup, drinking beers named after rocks and ice with a tannic aftertaste. I come home to find that I have missed a loop in my refastened belt.

In my first college classroom. I fill up my schedule with prerequisites. In my public speaking course we are asked to bring in three objects and identify what they mean to us. The only rainbow article of clothing I own is striped underwear. In retrospect, I wonder how many times the professor had witnessed similar antics.

Around my uncle's dining room table during Passover seder. My aunt asks when my younger sister, a sophomore in college, will marry her boyfriend. "She'll probably wait until after graduation," I say. She replies, "Besides your other sister, she's our only hope."

On my ex-girlfriend's graduation day. Her mother knew that her daughter would bring her boyfriend, the one that her sisters always mentioned, that person with the apartment in Allston. If her daughter was seeing someone so often -- as her daughter had never done -- then it had to be serious. On the pavilion by the Boston Harbor, we meet for the first time. I'm the best friend she's never heard of. During the celebratory luncheon in Cambridge, she sneaks looks, furtive and observatory, as I push my tuna niçoise around with a fork. So, this is it.

 



On Franklin Avenue, holding hands. We are lucky. The previous Fourth of July in Boston, my then-girlfriend and I had our arms around each other while a man with a shaved head made catcalls. I told him to be quiet: "Shut your mouth." It was only after she had me in her arms again, pulling me away, that I realized I had punched someone for the first time.

In the police precinct. I sit with the officer to file a report as the victim of -- as the officer decides -- lewd conduct. The man in my apartment building came toward me, pants down, but intent can only go so far. My then-girlfriend is next to me as the officer asks me about discernible scars, piercings, tattoos. The officer has seen our apartment bedroom, our connubial bed with the crumpled blue duvet. Still, he calls her my roommate.

In the dark. In the light.
 

Still I Rise: A Look at the LGBTQ Struggle

Sage Advice to Young Queers From a Gay Elder

We're Living LGBTQ History: Will We Remember It?

 

Gay Mega History in the Making

By Michaelangelo Signorile / Huffington Post / November 2012

“No longer will politicians -- or anyone -- be able to credibly claim to be supportive of gays, and to love and honor their supposed gay friends and family, while still being opposed to basic and fundamental rights like marriage.”

The re-election of Barack Obama, as well as the wins in states wherever gay marriage was on ballot -- in Maine, Minnesota, Maryland and Washington -- is a massive watershed for LGBTQ rights. No longer will politicians -- or anyone -- be able to credibly claim to be supportive of gays, and to love and honor their supposed gay friends and family, while still being opposed to basic and fundamental rights like marriage. The very ads pushed by the enemies of gay rights, like the mastermind behind the antigay ballot measures, Frank Schubert, which claim you can support gay equality but be against gay marriage, no longer hold water.

 

 

From now on, you're no friend to gays if you don't support full equality, and you're a bigot if you try to defend that position, as Mitt Romney did. Many people previously hid behind the idea that since the president, prior to May of this year, didn't support marriage equality, but could still be considered "pro-gay," they could be considered pro-gay too.

 

But President Obama not only evolved; he set a new standard: being pro-gay means supporting full equality. This is a president who ended "don't ask, don't tell," signed a gay-inclusive hate crimes law, urged voters in the states to vote for marriage equality and wrote a letter to a 10-year-old last week offering her support against bullies who might stigmatize her for having two dads. He's a president whose administration helped transgender Americans get full protections in employment under existing laws banning discrimination based on gender and made sure his health care law fosters full access and equality for gay and transgender people. And he was re-elected. That re-election happened, make no mistake, because the president energized his based, including LGBTQ activists who pushed him hard and made it clear that they wouldn't be energized if he didn't stop dancing with the right and stood up for full equality. He learned how that could work for him, and his re-election proves that it can done. No longer will there be an excuse for politicians who claim to be pro-gay but who drag their feet for fear of repercussions.

 

The wins on marriage in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and probably Washington (votes are still being counted but activists are almost certain they won) are groundbreaking, and it's only the beginning. The tide has turned after losses on marriage at the ballot in over 30 states. It's a direct result of the shift in public opinion and the president both capitalized on that and helped change public opinion further. The enemies of gay equality are now on the run.

 

 

Those enemies, however, still have a hold on the Republican Party, and the GOP will have to reckon with that. Certainly it will be front and center in the GOP's own coming civil war over the fallout of this election. The Human Rights Campaign rightly said in a press release that last night's victories, which included the election of Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay or lesbian person to win a U.S. Senate seat, and other pro-equality big wins, were a landslide for LGBTQ rights. Opponents of LGBTQ rights were stomped, and the pressure will be on the GOP to oust them for good. As the Rick Santorum wing claims the 2012 losses mean the party needs to double down on cultural issues like gay marriage, there will hopefully be those who make the correct point that, in fact, the party needs to drop gay-bashing and move into 21st century if it wants to survive.
 

TED Talk: LGBTQ Pastor's Journey

NY Times: Corrosive Politics That Threaten LGBTQ Americans

The LGBTQ Movement is in Chaos

People Guess the Sexual Orientation of Strangers

NY Times: The Big Sway

TED Talk: Coming Out of the Closet

Coming out as a Christian

Where Would MLK Have Stood on Marriage Equality?

TED Talk: Some Boys Are Born Girls

 

Discrimination is Immoral

By Matt Foreman / Executive Director / National Gay And Lesbian Task Force

I'm hearing both gay and straight people say that the long string of losses we've faced at the polls around marriage equality are really our own fault; our community pushed too hard and too fast, they argue. The prominent theme being generated is that we have failed to "educate" the public about who we really are and get beyond the stereotypes of leather people, butch dykes, circuit boys and drag queens – and that it is now our obligation to reintroduce ourselves to the American people. I also repeatedly hear that it's up to us to reframe the terms of the debate away from "moral values" to simpler concepts, such as fairness, which polls indicate resonate most with the public.

I disagree. This is nothing more than the blame-the-victim mentality afflicting our nation generally and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) movement specifically. Rather than reframing the debate away from moral values, we must embrace them. Or more precisely, the utter immorality of the escalating attacks against LGBTQ people. And, equally, the utter immorality in the failure of so many people of good will to stand with us. It is time for us to seize the moral high ground and state unambiguously that anti-gay discrimination in any form is immoral.

 



Webster's defines discrimination as "unfair treatment of a person or group on the basis of prejudice." By any measure, LGBTQ people are targets of discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. FBI statistics show that more people are being murdered because of their sexual orientation than for any other bias reason. Our young people are still routinely bullied in schools. The examples of injustices in the area of partner and family recognition are too many to list. No thinking or feeling person can deny these realities, which, as always, fall hardest on LGBTQ people of color and those who are poor.

But, alarmingly, rather than seeing a groundswell of support for measures to combat these injustices, the opposite is occurring. In Congress and in statehouses nationwide, it's rhetorical and legislative open season on LGBTQ people. For example, over the last nine months, anti-marriage state constitutional amendments were put on the ballot in 14 states, 10 of which also prohibit the recognition of any form of relationship between people of the same gender. It's likely another 12 states will have similar measures on the ballot within 3 years. Nothing like this has happened since the Constitution was ratified in 1791 – essentially a national referendum inviting the public to vote to deprive a small minority of Americans of rights the majority takes for granted and sees as fundamental.

And who's been there to fight these amendments? Basically us, the very minority under attack. Mainstream media and churches are largely silent to our opponents' lies. Most progressive organizations and political campaigns, meanwhile, steer clear. There have been sterling exceptions, but they have been few and far between.

 



Many people who see themselves as supporters of equal rights for all tolerate this because they believe prejudice on the basis of sexual orientation is profoundly different than that based on race or religion – that it comes from an understandable disapproval of our behavior – not on some "immutable characteristic." Homosexual behavior, they feel, is "unnatural" (doesn't the Bible say so?). Pundits say there is an "ick" factor – that the thought of gay sex revolts non-gay people, and that this seemingly innate reaction is proof there is something wrong with homosexuality.

This rationale is hardly unique to gay people. Scholars point to comparable "ick" sentiments about Irish immigrants in the 1880s, and describe how in preceding generations sexual ideology was used to strengthen control over slaves and to justify the taking of Native American lands, and that for centuries Jews were associated with disease and urban degeneration. Fact is, there is no justification for anti-gay prejudice; the "justifications" for it are as unfounded as those used to support the second-class treatment of other minorities in past generations. So, what needs to be done?

First, everyone must realize that when straight people say gay people should not have the freedom to marry, they are saying we are not as good or deserving as they are. It's that simple, no matter how one attempts to sugarcoat it. This is unacceptable – and it is immoral.

Second, while we should talk to straight people honestly about our lives, we must flatly reject the notion that we are somehow to blame for all of this because we have not effectively communicated our "stories" to others. Fundamentally, it is not our job to prove to others that we can be good neighbors, good parents, and that gee whiz, we're actually people too.

 



Third, equality will remain elusive if we keep relying on intellectualized arguments or by dryly cataloguing, for example, each of the 1,138 federal rights and responsibilities we are forced to forgo due to marriage inequality.

The other side goes for the gut; it's now our turn. In this vein, we must put others on the spot to stand up and fight for us. As the cascade of lies pours forth from the Anti-Gay Industry, morality demands that non-gay people speak out with the same vehemence as they would if it was another minority under attack. Ministers and rabbis must be challenged with the question, "Where is your voice?" Elected officials who meet with and attend events of the Anti-Gay Industry, must be met with the challenge, "How can you do that!? How is that public service?"

The orchestrated campaign to deny us jobs, family recognition, children, and housing is immoral. Silently bearing witness to this discrimination is immoral. America is in the midst of another ugly chapter in its struggle with the forces of bigotry. People of good will can either rise up to speak for lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender Americans, or look back upon themselves 20 years from now with deserved shame.

 

 

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