Tag Archives: gay rights

It Gets Better

When you hear the word war, does your mind scroll to the Middle East? Do you think of your favorite World War II movie? Well, wake up.

Asher Brown, 13

They’re not the only wars – those are just the ones you hear about, the ones abroad. Realize we’re fighting a war on the homefront – a war not unlike all the others, where fear of Other leads to bullying, premeditated attack, and death. Innocent civilians are killed in the name of hate, in the name of homophobic violence. Tyler Clementi (18), Billy Lucas (15), Asher Brown (13), Seth Walsh (13), and most recently Raymond Chase (19) are among the recent civilians who’ve perished. Think about the ages for a moment; what did they do to deserve the bullying, the name-calling, and the daily torture? These kids, as well as other kids who aren’t on the news – those who are persecuted for their gender, sexuality, appearance, or otherwise, are absolutely no different than your sister, your son, or yourself. Would you want to be treated this way? Your sex life published online by your college roommates, your children going to school only to be beat up and victimized and led to kill themselves because they’re “fags?”

Seth Walsh, 13

So what to do? The time for platitudes is over – we are obviously all involved in allowing this to continue, and we’re all responsible for creating awareness and coming up with solutions – this is a war that won’t be waged with weapons. No, it won’t. It will be waged with WORDS, compassion, and intelligence – concepts that are sorely lacking in our school systems and in American homes. This war on hatred and homophobia will be won by people like you and me who will stand up for people like Tyler and Seth. If you think you’re inconsequential, or your voice is alone, or you have no connection to homophobia because “you’re not gay/hurting/scared/depressed” or “don’t know anyone who is” – you’re wrong.

Tyler Clementi, 18

Start by talking with your siblings, kids, or friends’ kids about their experiences. Really listen, and validate their feelings. Don’t brush them off as “just teens” or going through a phase.  Maybe the teen you know isn’t bullied because of her sexuality, but because of her weight or her mind, or just the very fact that she exists. Maybe your child is crying out to you but you only see the anger, withdrawal, and indifference in his face. Look deeper. Let them know that things will get better – and they need to live to see that day, the day when they have friends and partners that love them for who they are. Give them hope!

Don’t stop there – influencing the minds of vulnerable teens is crucial, but it won’t fix the greater problem: keep an eye out for teens that are externalizing hateful feelings and behaviors. Don’t let it get that far; notify teachers, parents, or friends. They too need guidance and awareness of the importance of human life. If anything, they need some anger management classes, some therapy, or other more serious rehabilitation. Perhaps they too are afraid of their true sexuality, or are battling a problem at home.

Below you’ll find a candid video clip made by Dan Savage that really moved me despite my aggravation and heartbreak at the terrible suicides. Savage and his partner Terry talk about their experiences with bullying and homophobia. Also check out the It Gets Better Project on YouTube for more similar clips! If you’re a teen who needs help, you can find it! There are GLBTQ centers all around the country, you can check out The Trevor Project and Angels and Doves for more info, and reach the US Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

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Why Can’t I Own a Canadian?

Posting notes on Facebook has become so last decade, right? Come to think of it, blogs might seem that way to some, but I love mine, and I love the following gem that I’m sharing from a supercool Facebook friend. From what I read on wiki, it’s a popular one! Enjoy!

In her radio show, Dr. Laura Schlesinger said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance.

The following response is an open letter to Dr. Laura, written by a US man, and posted on the Internet. It’s funny, as well as informative:

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination … end of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and
female, provided they are from neighboring nations. A friend of mine
claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you
clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in
Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair
price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her
period of Menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how
do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a
pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors.
They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus
35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated
to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an
abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than
homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there
‘degrees’ of abomination?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I
have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading
glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room
here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair
around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev.
19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes
me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two
different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments
made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also
tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go
to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them?
Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family
affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)
I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy
considerable expertise in such matters, so I’m confident you can help.
Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

Your adoring fan.

James M. Kauffman, Ed.D. Professor Emeritus,
Dept. Of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education
University of Virginia PS (It would be a damn shame if we couldn’t own a Canadian)

Prop 8 – You’re fired!

As I’m sure you’ve heard, Proposition 8 was overruled!! Of course, I’m totally overjoyed, and on a personal note, I think it’s extremely appropriate that it happened right after I finished Queer as Folk! Judge Walker of the 9th Circuit District Court rejected Proposition 8, citing it unconstitutional!

I particularly like what he said here:

“Plaintiffs do not seek recognition of a new right. To characterize plaintiffs’ objective as “the right to same-sex marriage” would suggest that plaintiffs seek something different from what opposite-sex couples across the state enjoy — namely, marriage. Rather, plaintiffs ask California to recognize their relationships for what they are: marriages.”

Judge Walker also pointed out several ‘findings’ related to gay marriage, which he included in his 136-page ruling. You can find all of them here, as well as the entirety of his ruling here. In my mind, these are common sense, but I appreciate him pointing them out nonetheless. I know that many people will continue to simply cling to what they already believe, and accepting a new idea is difficult (As Inception so gracefully pointed out), but I think it’s time for the next frontier on gay rights. Once people realize that gay people are human, and are Americans, just like they are, I hope we can put this whole issue to bed. Moreover, I believe the ignorance and intolerance of homosexuality stems almost entirely from fear of the unknown. I have yet to hear a convincing argument against marital rights for gays, and no, I don’t accept the “it’s always been between a man and woman” argument. It’s always been a lot of things that aren’t anymore!

Anyways. Here are Walker’s ‘findings’ that stood out for me:

  • “The availability of domestic partnership does not provide gays and lesbians with a status equivalent to marriage because the cultural meaning of marriage and its associated benefits are intentionally withheld from same-sex couples in domestic partnerships.”
  • “Permitting same-sex couples to marry will not affect the number of opposite-sex couples who marry, divorce, cohabit, have children outside of marriage or otherwise affect the stability of opposite-sex marriages.”

Now, for some fun — check out this hilarious clip from a couple years back, “Prop 8 – The Musical”  🙂

Queer as Folk

The clock struck midnight two nights ago as I pressed play on the final episode of Queer as Folk, a show that has catapulted into the ‘big leagues’ of my life. After inhaling all five seasons over a span of a couple of weeks, I was anxious about it coming to an end. Now that it has, I feel as though I’m grieving the loss of actual dear friends. Yes, they’ll live on in syndication heaven, but the narratives of their lives have ended, and short of revisiting my pastime of fan-fiction writing, there’s nothing I can do.

This show combined my love of ensemble friendships and phenomenal characters with my passion for gay rights. It first aired on Showtime in 2000, and revolves around a group of friends living in Pittsburgh. Their lives are not unlike yours or mine – they love, laugh, hurt, work, and play. But they’re queer, and that aspect of their identities colors their lives and a lot of their unique experiences. They spend many of their days at the local gay club, Babylon, and socialize over lunch at the Liberty Diner. Some of them are active for the plight of equality, while others are initially more indifferent to politics and try to live their lives without asking permission. Some let their homosexuality light up their lives like a candle burning bright, while others attempt to blend in to mainstream society and hide who they are. Each of the characters is a gem, and I’m so glad that my good friend Rach suggested I watch!

As I mentioned before, the lives of these genuine characters are very much like ours – yet often the media strives to neuter gay life. In a sense, the idea of gay lifestyles is more acceptable in the present day, but the realistic expression of gay sexuality is swept under the rug for fear of offending straight people. They’re eunuchs in a way – it seems the only time they’re sanctioned in the mainstream society is when they’re giving style tips. It’s unfair, and I’m glad this show addressed that. Whereas most broadcast networks make gay kissing out to be a milestone of epic proportions (i.e. the nonexistent liplocking on Modern Family), the characters of Queer have sex in a realistic way within their relationships. This is not to say that I support crudeness, necessarily, I’m just voicing my appreciation for the show’s honest portrayal of gay lives.

Once I finished the last episode, I naturally found my way to YouTube, where I spent about another other in the middle of the night watching interviews. One notable interview was when the entire cast appeared on Larry King Live in 2002. What I found disturbing was that King kept repeatedly establishing which of the actors were gay “in real life”, and which were straight. He asked awkward questions about kissing people of the same sex, and then even asked the straight actors whether they regretted taking the part. Granted, this was eight years ago, but I felt like he missed the whole point of the show – who cares how you identify yourself, as long as you can relate to the humanity of the characters? We’re all the same, and as Debbie (more about her soon) said on the show, “genitalia is just God’s way of accessorizing.”

My absolute favorite enigma of a character on the show is Brian Kinney. Played by the sultry, gorgeous Gale Harold, Brian has one thing on his mind and one thing only: sex. At 29, he’s a brilliant advertising exec with a keen fashion sense. The plot thickens when he meets a high school senior and budding artist named Justin Taylor (Randy Harrison), who’s a rookie to the gay scene. As you can imagine, Justin falls head over heels for Brian – but Brian builds a tough exterior, the kind that detests relationships and love, much less marriage.

Yet it’s clear to everyone around him that Brian adores and loves Justin, and the two have a magnetic connection. It’s the subtle things that Brian does that show just how fragile and loving he is. When Justin is the victim of a hate crime at his school prom, Brian spends every day in the hospital with him. I can literally go on for pages and pages about my love for Brian, but I’ll leave some of the suspense alive in case you decide to check it out. 🙂

Here’s one of my favorite scenes from Season 1, where Brian surprises Justin and shows up at his prom.

Click here and let me introduce you to the rest of the gang!