Showing posts with label LGBT. Show all posts
Showing posts with label LGBT. Show all posts

Monday, February 27, 2012

Old Is the New Black; BDSM, the New Gay

via HuffPost Gay Voice, by Eric Schaeffer

Being human is sublime. The ability to reason and feel emotion definitely blows my skirt up and makes me grateful The Great Spirits chose to birth my breath into this particular animal form.

Sadly, though, there is a serious downside to this intellect-emotion body: ego. The notion of separateness. And the ego seems passionately devoted to pounding that delusion of separateness into our hearts and minds so that we hate anyone who is not like us because we fear their difference will be our downfall, when, in fact, the opposite is true.

Other people's wonderfully unique nuances are our soul's education and light source. They are our uprising, not our undoing.

But the hate bully born from the fearful voices of our friends, parents, schools, media, and spiritual teachers, who are terrified of not being accepted for who they are and what they feel, has historically body and mind-snatched our higher internal judgment and convinced us there are a right people and a wrong people. A people to love and a people to hate.

It needs to end once and for all, because as of now, we are merely transferring the baton from one ridiculed group to the next every so often, absolving ourselves of inaction by doing so, and claiming evolution of equality and tolerance when, in fact, that is a lie and we are comfortably dying from the cancer at the source which remains untreated and more ferocious than ever.


As if black people and homosexuals had not been mistreated enough by the bigoted fascists of our country over the past 200 years, recently they had to endure the penultimate blow.

No longer being the number one most hated peoples. (Non-criminal, of course.)

For blacks, this crushing blow was memorialized in the autumn of 2008. When polled, a vast majority of Americans said they would rather vote for, as president of our country, the most powerful person in the world, a young black man (who was even accused of being a Muslim sympathizer, and in our world accused means guilty, especially with young black men) than an old white man, who happened to also be an established, well-liked war hero.

That signified the changing of the hate guard in the most absolute terms.

At that moment, the major news organizations, the truth makers, had announced loud and clear; old is the new black.

I remember it well. I was on a sit-down bike at the gym and the sadness was palpable. It was as if the hum of the workout machines was replaced by the sound of tears being shed by the nation's black people, devastated they were no longer at the top of the sociopath's "most reviled" heap.

But wait, what was that noise that seemed to be supplanting the ocean of black sadness? Gay cheers? Gay people all over the country were wildly expressing their joy at the promise of soon taking over the number one spot of hatred by America's ignorant.

Old people, while valiant in their attempt to retain their new crown, would be too weak to fight off the tidal wave of support for the new impending kings of the lowest: homosexuals.

And so it came to pass. As quickly as the white-hairs rose to power was as quickly as they retreated back to their bingo games, replaced by the gays.

But, alas, the past three years has been good to the gays -- which has made their tenure fragile, and ripe for hostile takeover. Ever more acceptance by the mainstream, evidenced by the passage of gay marriage, integration of openly gay co-workers, family members, friends, entertainment stars, and gay-themed TV and movie successes have all conspired to put the gays one solid far-right-cross away from a TKO.

And, sadly, the weight of the gay successes has been too much to bear and while they have fought bravely, they have finally succumbed.

Homosexuals are no longer the anti-Christs. That prestigious honor now resides with a new rising star that has seemingly come out of nowhere: BDSM.

Read the rest

Monday, December 26, 2011

Op-ed: Let Your Money Talk to Help LGBT Organizations

via Advocate, by Jimmy Nguyen, op-ed contributor

I repeatedly hear and see criticism of LGBT organizations and their leaders.

The chatter machine gripes about why the Defense of Marriage Act hasn’t been repealed yet, why transgender persons are not always included in proposed legislation, and even why there is a glut of gay charity summer pool parties.

LGBT people sure like to talk about the work of gay social justice groups; but far too often, they criticize without doing much to help.

While serving on the board of directors for Equality California for the last few years, and while helping support other groups financially or otherwise, I found myself immersed in dialogue about the LGBT rights movement.

I’m all for constructive criticism. No entity or person is beyond reproach, and feedback from the community is always good.

But much criticism comes from people who donate no money to any LGBT group (let alone contribute time to serve).

In 2010, less than 3% of LGBT adults in the U.S. gave money to any national LGBT organizations; the number of donors who gave $35 or more to LGBT non-profits dropped 12%.

These disheartening statistics were reported by the Movement Advancement Project in its recently released 2011 National LGBT Movement Report. (Fortunately, the report found LGBT organizations remain fiscally healthy due to support from other sources.)

If the LGBT community wants progress toward full equality, the other 97% of us need to financially support the organizations that fight our fights.

With the holiday season and tax year-end upon us, now is the perfect time to contribute and let your money talk for you.

Why don’t LGBT people give money? Let’s debunk the most common reasons I hear.

Read the rest

Friday, December 23, 2011

'LGBT' Transforming into Alphabet Soup?

via Huffpost Gay voices, by Chris Tina

LGBTQIAAP: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, allies, and panseuxal

Really? Are we trying to communicate a message or create alphabet soup?

As a newbie to the LGBT community, I felt it was my responsibility to learn the history and understand how we came to be where we are and how I can help move us forward.

These are the majority of acronyms and definitions (based on GLAAD's glossary of terms), even with some disagreement within our community:

•Lesbian: a woman whose enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attraction is to other women. Some lesbians may prefer to identify as gay, or as gay women.

•Gay: the adjective used to describe people whose enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attractions are to people of the same sex (e.g., a gay man, gay people).

•Bisexual: an individual who is physically, romantically, and/or emotionally attracted to men and women.

•Transgender: an umbrella adjective for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. The term may include, but is not limited to, transsexuals, cross-dressers, and other gender-variant people.

Transgender people may identify as female-to-male (FTM) or male-to-female (MTF). Transgender people may or may not decide to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically.

•Queer: traditionally a pejorative term, "queer" has been appropriated by some LGBT people to describe themselves. However, it is not universally accepted even within the LGBT community and should be avoided unless quoting or describing someone who self-identifies that way.

•Questioning: the adjective used to describe people who are unsure of their sexual orientation.

•Intersex: the adjective used to describe a person whose biological sex is ambiguous. There are many genetic, hormonal, or anatomical variations that make a person's sex ambiguous (e.g., Klinefelter syndrome). The term "intersex" is not interchangeable with or a synonym for "transgender."

•Asexual: an individual who is not physically, romantically, or emotionally attracted to others.

•Ally: a person who is not lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, or pansexual but who supports the LGBT(QQIAAP) community.

•Pansexual: a person who is attracted to others without taking gender or biological sex into account.

Even in our own community, we are not clear on all the acronyms that represent us. If I, as a person in the LGBT community, am having a hard time understanding and knowing all the acronyms sprouting up every other month, how can we honestly expect mainstream America to understand?

Our message is supposed to about unity to obtain equality, although we cannot even communicate a clear and consistent message.

I believe that we are doing ourselves a disservice by expanding our acronym for every micro group instead of projecting a simple and understandable message of equality for all.

Read the rest

Queer and Immigrant for the Holidays

via HuffPost Gay Voices, by Erwin de Leon

The holidays are meant to be a time of merriment and family, but so can it be disappointing, even depressing, for some.

This time of the year can be especially hard for immigrants who are separated from dear ones overseas.

Many seek the company of compatriots to recreate festivities and meals that evoke their countries of origin.

Most turn to their ethnic congregations for services consistent with their values and traditions.

Queer immigrants, like any other newcomer, can find the holidays tough. But it can also be doubly hard for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender immigrants, as they feel left out not only by the mainstream but by their own families and ethnic communities, which tend to be conservative and unwelcoming of openly LGBT individuals.

"My blood family and I had a contentious relationship due to my political involvement teemed with my sexuality and gender identity," said K, who identifies as queer, transgender, and of Philippine descent.

"Due to this, I was kicked out, homeless, and estranged as a young person from my blood family. This has incited displacement, a painful sense of mobility, and an instability that show itself during holiday time."

Tania, a community organizer at the Immigrant Youth Justice League and coordinator for the LGBTQ Immigrant Rights Project at the Association of Latino Men for Action, says her family has come around.

They are more comfortable with her being out, and she is able to bring her partner home for the holidays.
She nonetheless feels a great loss at this time of the year.

Tania is undocumented. Her parents brought their family over from Mexico 18 years ago when she was only 10 years old.

It is important for her to describe herself as without papers. "That's really an important part of my identity because it's something that has been true for me for most of my life," she said. "It's something that has affected every aspect of how I live."

"It's really difficult to listen to people's plans of traveling at this time to a country where I can't go even if I wish I could," she admitted.

She sorely misses her extended family and laments the fading ties.

"I've lost touch with my family in Mexico, my cousins, my grandparents," she said. "When I talk about Christmas and New Years and Three Kings Day as being family time, it really has only been my immediate family, my mom, my sister, my dad, and myself, plus the few friends and chosen family that have also gathered around us, both from the LGBT community and the immigrant undocumented community."

Many queer immigrants spend the holidays with "chosen families," usually others who share their gender orientation and identity and their struggles in America.

Read the rest

Monday, December 19, 2011

Op-ed: The Legacy of the Bush War on Gay Iraqis

via Advocate, by Melanie Nathan, op-ed contributor

With the lowering of the American flag, finally off Iraqi soil as it returns home to the United States, and the ecstatic familial greetings of soldiers returned, the Bush Iraq War is over.

It may always be regretted by LGBT  Iraqis. They have suffered alongside all Iraqis, not only as a result of the vanquished Saddam Hussein regime, nor only collaterally from American bombing that comes with the brutal nuances of that particular war, but also because of adversity imposed by being “outed” by militias, and because of brutality by religious fanaticism that has taken hold of post-Saddam Iraq.

While none will debate the imperative demise of Hussein, many Iraqi gays may well have preferred that brutal reign to what they have since faced.

With the war, quiet non-disclosure and occasional homophobic targeting gave way to a voracious endeavor by lawless militias, and they unleashed violence against gays in unprecedented fashion.

Trillions of dollars, blood, limbs and lives are all part of the mayhem that provides the context for this added persecution.

Gay Iraqis had to run, and they are still running. One estimate cited by Gay Middle East says that more than 700 LGBT people have been killed since the U.S. led invasion, with thousands more suffering violence, discrimination and abuse on a daily basis.

Dan Littauer, executive editor of Gay Middle East, told me, "While under the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein’s secular Ba’ath party, LGBTI people lived under an unwritten rule akin to a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, but in post-Saddam Iraq, this has become nearly impossible.”

LGBT Iraqis fled in multitudes to Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and other countries, now only to be caught up in local revolutions that have caused them further risk and at times violence.

Read the rest

Iraq's unwanted people from Gay Middle East on Vimeo.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Are Gays Too Sensitive to Jokes?

via HuffPost Gay Voices, by Aaron Anson

I was appalled when I read excerpts from Vibe's interview with rapper T.I.: he said that the gay community is too sensitive to jokes made at their expense. T.I. starts with a disclaimer, saying that he's OK with any sexual "preference," but goes on to say, "If you're against [being gay], you should also have the right to be against it in peace."

Most obnoxious was when T.I. condoned Tracy Morgan's venomous diatribe against gays, which took place earlier this year.

His idea is that anti-gay sentiments are acceptable, and that it's ridiculous for the gay community to backlash against this expression of free speech.

It's true that the First Amendment protects all kinds of free speech, including anti-gay speech. But the fact that anti-gay speech is legal does not make it any more acceptable.

Free speech can allow free ignorance, unfortunately, and the two often go hand-in-hand.

It's clear from his language that T.I. simply does not relate to gays.

If we conclude that gays are overly sensitive to these jokes, then clearly the African-American community is overly sensitive about racism.

Imagine the backlash if a public figure made a joke about killing a person because they were black.

Would this have any comic value at all, or would it simply be tasteless?

How would this be any different from Tracy Morgan's remarks that he would stab his son if he were gay?

Read the rest

Monday, November 21, 2011

Young, Gay, and Homeless

via NPR, by Margot Adler

A number of studies of homeless youth in big cities put forth a startling statistic: Depending on the study, somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of homeless youths identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

It's largely because gay youths are more often kicked out of their homes than straight youths. And even if they are not kicked out, they may feel so uncomfortable that they leave.

In New York City, nearly 4,000 young people are homeless every night — many of them gay.

Reaching Out To Homeless Youths

On the Christopher Street pier in Greenwich Village, where dozens of gay and transgender youths hang out, Carter Seabron and Elena Wood of Safe Horizon's Streetwork Project hand out snacks, condoms and information.

The organization sends out several nightly teams to find homeless youths.

"Would you like a snack?" Seabron and Wood ask. Oreos, Rice Krispies treats and chewy bars are the favorites.

They also give out information about Streetwork's drop-in centers, where young people can get showers, clothing and housing referrals.

Seabron, the outreach coordinator for the Streetwork Project, says that "for the most part, the majority of youth we see who identify as being homeless also identify as being LGBT."

Wood says not all of them are thrown out of their homes, although many are.
Margot Adler/NPR Tiffany Cocco (left to right), Jeremiah Beaverly, Carl Siciliano and Avi Bowie hang out at the Ali Forney Center in Manhattan.

"The parent might not say, 'You have to get out now,' like, 'I am kicking you out,' especially since that is illegal if they are under 18," she says. "It's a fine line between what is their choice and what is not."

Each homeless young person has a different story.

Jeremiah Beaverly grew up in Wisconsin and Illinois.

"The day after my 18th birthday this year, my adopted parent kicked me out," he says. "At the time, I was really infatuated with this guy, and she was listening to my phone calls. She started telling my family, 'He is this, he is that, he is gay,' and talking about me as if I wasn't part of the family."

Beaverly was lucky — he had friends whose parents were more accepting. He stayed with them until he finished high school.

Now, in New York City, he is in emergency housing — only available for 90 days.

"I went from shelters and couch-surfing to my own bed," he says. "I haven't slept in my own bed for almost a year, so it is really nice."

Read the rest

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween: America's Gay Holiday

via HuffPost Gay Voices, by Irene Monroe

Halloween is America's gay holiday.

In the words of the lesbian poet and scholar Judy Grahn, Halloween is "the great gay holiday."
And this weekend of lavish costumed theatricality will attract everyone, but especially lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) revelers.

Back in the day Halloween, the night before All Hallows Day (All Saints Day), was linked to the ancient Celtic festival Samhain in the British Isles, meaning "summer's end."

And because the celebration is associated with mystery, magic, superstition, witches and ghosts, the festivity, not surprisingly, was limited in colonial New England because of its Puritanical belief system.

But today it's an LGBTQ extravaganza that rivals -- if not out-showcases -- Pride festivals.

Long before June officially became Gay Pride Month and October became Coming Out Month for the LGBTQ community, Halloween was unofficially our yearly celebrated "holiday," dating as far back as the 1970s, when it was a massive annual street party in San Francisco's Castro district.

By the 1980s, gay enclaves like Key West, West Hollywood, and Greenwich Village were holding their annual Halloween street parties.

And the parades the night of Halloween did and still do draw straights and gay spectators out to watch.

Gay cultural influence on Halloween has become such an unstoppable phenomenon here and abroad that anthropologist Jerry Kugelmass of University of Florida published a book in 1994 on the new trend, titled Masked Culture, describing Halloween as an emerging gay "high holiday."

"The 'masked culture' first developed by the gays of San Francisco has reached across the lines of orientation -- and now jumped across the boundaries between nations and languages.

It's not just a party. It's an ideal of personal emancipation, self-expression and self-fulfillment -- an ideal that loses none of its power when it takes the form of a sexy nurse's outfit," CNN contributor David Frum wrote last year in "Halloween craze started in gay culture."

Read the rest

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Down Low Made Me Do It!

As a black man, I've been very blessed to have an amazing career working as a producer in television. For more than three decades, I have worked for some of the biggest names on some of the most popular shows in television history.

I've seen it all -- from producing for local television stations to working on The Oprah Winfrey Show and The View. I've been to every award show red carpet possible through my years with Extra, E! News and Access Hollywood, just to name a few.

And more often than not, I have been the only black male on the team. And as a double whammy, I am almost always the only openly gay black man on staff.

So, when the media first became infatuated with the idea of the "Down Low" back in the late '90s, for me the issues and topics were magnified because it hit so close to home -- not because I was in the closet hiding anything, but because as the token gay black man, my straight colleagues assumed I had all the answers.

But they weren't asking the right questions. All over the tube, from Jerry Springer to CNN and everything in between, everyone was talking about the Down Low.

There were books and documentaries, newspaper commentaries and radio shows. The Down Low was everywhere.

 It was so prevalent that even the straight guys on my camera crews looked up from their sports pages to ask me about it.

As the only black gay rep on the staff, I got asked, "Why are so many black gay men in the closet?" "What is it about the black community that won't allow black gay men to come out?" "Is it true that these closet cases are spreading HIV/AIDS to black women?" (This is a huge myth, and according to the CDC, it's the prevalence of intravenous drug use that is to blame.)

Then, the discussion turned to my personal life. I got asked, "When did you decide to come out? Was it difficult for you?"

And that's when it hit me. I realized my story was still new to them because my experience as a gay black person is never seen in the mainstream media. I realized that even folks in the liberal entertainment industry needed to be educated.

 I was an anomaly; they were used to seeing gay people who looked like the characters on Will & Grace or, in today's world, like Cam and Mitchell on Modern Family.

And when they do see black gay men in the media, it's usually a discussion of the mysterious men on the Down Low.

Why are these nameless, faceless people who are creeping, so to speak, getting more media attention than the black same-gender-loving (SGL) people who are open and honest and living in their truth?

Where are the black SGL role models who are productive members of our communities? Where are the television segments, talk shows, newspaper articles and stories that feature people like my friends and me?

I realized that black gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are the invisible people. Like Wanda Sykes has said, "There are no black gays. We're like unicorns. We don't exist [in the media]."

Read the rest

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Spirit Day 2011

via GLAAD blog

Millions of Americans wear purple on Spirit Day as a sign of support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth and to speak out against bullying.

Spirit Day was started in 2010 by teenager Brittany McMillan as a response to the young people who had taken their own lives.

Observed annually on October 20, individuals, schools, organizations, corporations, media professionals and celebrities wear purple, which symbolizes spirit on the rainbow flag.

Getting involved is easy -- participants are asked to simply "go purple" on October 20 as we work to create a world in which LGBT teens are celebrated and accepted for who they are.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

At the Crossroads of being Gay and Muslim

via Advocate, by Amanda D. Quiraishi

During the past decade North America has seen an emergence of politically motivated Chicken Littles running around frantically warning of an imminent takeover by Muslims and their Sharia law.

Insurgent Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, for example, famously said he wouldn’t allow any Muslim to serve in his Cabinet for fear of the foreign-sounding code of laws.

Religious and political scholars as well as the Muslim mainstream have effectively repudiated such nonsense.

The real story, however, lies with progressive Muslims who are using the protection of secular Western laws to actively reform centuries-old interpretations of their faith.

In May 2009 in Toronto, El-Farouk Khaki, his partner, Troy Jackson, and their mutual friend Laury Silvers founded el-Tawhid Juma Circle, the first mosque created for all gender identities and sexual orientations. And this year two sister circles formed — in Atlanta and Washington, D.C.

Khaki is a longtime activist in the Muslim world, but he knew a place for LGBT people was needed after September 11, 2001.

Khaki found himself called to defend Muslims living in the West against discrimination and prejudice because of terrorism done in the name of Islam.

Yet, despite his dedication in representing Muslims, he soon ran into opposition.

“I found that there isn’t a lot of understanding for someone who is both openly Muslim and openly gay,” Khaki says.

“Many queer or socially progressive Muslims give up their religion because they feel there is no space for them, and often they lose their spirituality in the process. I got tired of people saying ‘we need more inclusive spaces’; ‘we need more female imams.’ Who is stopping you from having these things? If there is no space for you, make the space!”

Read the rest

Thursday, October 6, 2011

LGBT History Month

This Saturday marked the beginning of the 17th annual celebration of LGBT History Month, a time dedicated to recognizing important moments in the history of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Encompassing a number of historically important days, this October is set to remind both the LGBT and wider communities of important roles LGBT people have taken in creating the social, legal, and political worlds we live in today.

GLAAD encourages media outlets to use this opportunity to explore the place of LGBT people in society and the changes they are making in their communities.

LGBT History Month was created in 1994 by a high school history teacher in Missouri called Rodney Wilson.

The month, which garnered early support from organizations such as GLAAD and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), was initially chosen to include the by-then well-established National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11 and the anniversary of the first march on Washington by LGBT people in 1979 on Oct. 14.

The month now also includes Spirit Day on Oct. 20, on which people around the country wear purple in support of LGBT youth; Ally Week, a week in which allies against LGBT bullying are celebrated; and the anniversary of 21-year-old Matthew Shepard's murder on Oct. 12, 1998, which sparked the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

Read the rest

Monday, September 26, 2011

Meet my Partner or Boyfriend?

by Sebastino Aviles

Language is one of the few things in life that we don’t really think about, I mean unless you’re a linguist or something like that, I consider it something that we take for granted.

That being said I’ve noticed that I catch myself changing up my language, depending on different circumstances, such as where I’m at, who I’m with, and what I’m doing.

 I’m sure everyone experiences this phenomenon all the time in their lives but do we really take the time to notice when and why we are doing it?

I believe that my language is reflected on who I am in terms of social constructions such as gender, race/ethnicity, sexuality, class, and age. If I use those social constructions I would describe myself as a young working class gay Latino man.

Language itself is a social construction and as a social construction it is subject to change depending on who is using it. Which brings me to my next point, as a gay man I often monitor my language depending on where I’m at, who I’m with, and who I’m talking to.

My prime example is how I change up my language is when talking to people about a significant other. Depending on who I’m talking to or where I’m at I would either call my significant other my partner or my boyfriend.

If I were to talk to a heterosexual person and I have my significant other with me I would normally introduce him as my partner, however if I’m talking to someone who belongs to the LGBTQ community or identifies as LGBTQ I would introduce him as my boyfriend.

On the other hand if I know the heterosexual person well enough like if they are a family member or a close friend I would introduce him as my boyfriend.

Once again my language would change depending on where I was at, for example if I were in a formal setting like at a reception for some event I would introduce my significant other as my partner, and if I were in an informal setting like a bar or something he would turn back into my boyfriend.

I think for me having two options as to what I call my significant other can be problematic at times because it seems that I am conforming to what other people would find acceptable and thus creating a dichotomy that doesn’t need to be there, but at the same time I feel that having two options is also important because it gives me the choice of choosing how I want to define my relationship and how I want my relationship to be perceived to myself as well as to society.

Friday, September 23, 2011

"Hate No More" in Uganda

The brutal murder of gay activist David Kato has motivated more people to speak out, writes CAELAINN HOGAN

“MY BODY is not a battlefield,” declares one poster on a Kampala street. “Uganda belongs to all who live in it,” reads another. On walls across a country known for its condemnation of homosexuality, a simple yet powerful appeal is being made: hate no more.

The Hate No More campaign, launched on August 10th, is a courageous four-month initiative to raise awareness and end discrimination. In addition to the nationwide poster campaign, LGBT activists are engaging in direct dialogue with religious leaders, NGOs, police, health providers and politicians.

“These people exist among you,” says Joshua Muhanguzi of Freedom and Roam Uganda, the organisation spearheading the campaign. “They’re your brothers, your sisters, your parents. So stop the hate.”

In the same month, following widespread international pressure, the Ugandan cabinet finally rejected the 2009 Anti-Homosexuality Bill proposed by MP David Bahati.

While homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, the Bill sought the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” and threatened three years’ imprisonment for those who failed to report a known homosexual within 24 hours.

As well as suffering verbal and physical abuse, many LGBT people in Uganda are expelled from school and disowned by their families because of their sexuality. Many are denied medical and counselling services.

“Lesbians have been forced into marriage to cover up their sexuality,” says Joanitah Abang, programmes manager for Freedom and Roam Uganda.

“Others have been raped by family members and friends to cure them of the ‘disease’.”
Campaigning in her home district of Lira, Abang received positive responses from the community, including the police. Local radio stations, however, accused the campaign of recruiting people to homosexuality.

“They claimed I was given money to recruit people; the whole place is on fire, they want to kill me,” she says. “I just tell people, whatever you do, you cannot break me.”

The brutal murder of gay activist David Kato in January was a harsh reminder of the high risks Ugandan activists face, but his death has motivated more people to speak out.

Read the rest

Friday, September 16, 2011

Chicago GLHF 2011 Inductees

Eleven individuals and four organizations will be inducted in November into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, the country's only known government-sponsored hall of fame that honors members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities.

The inductees were selected by a subcommittee composed of former inductees, which reviewed nominations submitted by members of the public.

 The names were released by the Hall of Fame Committee of the Chicago Commission on Human Relations' Advisory Council on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues, a municipal government agency, in conjunction with the recently formed � 501(c)(3) support organization, Friends of the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame.

The chosen nominees will be inducted at the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame's annual ceremony, which will take place on the evening of Wednesday, November 9, at the Chicago History Museum,1601 N. Clark St., Chicago. The event will be free and open to the public.

"It makes us proud that, even 20 years after our first ceremony, there are still important figures from the past and a constantly growing list of current Chicagoans whose accomplishments and community contributions merit being honored by the Hall of Fame," said Lourdes Rodriguez, co-chairperson of the Hall of Fame Committee and of the Friends of the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame.

"Though municipal budget problems have restricted government financial support for the Hall of Fame this year, we are grateful that individual Chicagoans have stepped forward to assist us, through Friends of the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, in maintaining a needed and historically significant institution," said Gary Chichester, the other co-chairperson of the committee and of the Friends organization.

The Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame was established in 1991 under the auspices of the Advisory Council, with support from the Chicago Commission on Human Relations and then-Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Its purpose is to recognize the achievements of LGBT Chicagoans, their contributions to the development of the city, and the help they have received from others.

In 2011, it marks its 20th anniversary, holds its 21st annual induction ceremony, and enjoys continuing status as an official recognition by city government of Chicago's LGBT residents and their allies.

Those inducted fall into one of three categories: Individual, Organization, or Friend of the Community. Nominees represent all of Chicago's sexual-minority communities, including LGBT Chicagoans, past, present, living, and dead, as well as those who have supported or assisted them.

Read the rest and see the list of inductees

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Gay Latinos Fighting BS: Bias and Stereotypes

Carolina Ramos has seen the struggle over and over again. She is the Latino/a services coordinator for the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Community Center in San Diego, where she sees families torn and battered, as they try to come to grips with a child who has a different sexual orientation.

"A lot of people think LGBT issues are one thing, and Latino issues are another," Ramos said. "But for many people, you cannot separate them."

Ramos traveled to Sacramento recently to testify at an Assembly hearing on the subject. In general, she said, health risk factors increase in severity with societal pressures -- and Latinos in the LGBT community have multiple stressors, Ramos said.

For instance, lower-income people have difficulty accessing health care. Language can be a barrier. Distance from health care facilities is a barrier. Gay patients have an additionally difficult time communicating with providers. Immigrants face discrimination. Gay Latinos face discrimination from family, from friends, from church. There is the social pressure of machismo. All of those pressures add up, Ramos said.

"Everything from low income to race are stressors," she said. "You know, I've had parents say, 'Hey, they're your responsibility now, your responsibility if they die,' and that [kind of situation] was very painful."

That's the kind of situation often faced by gay Latinos and one reason for convening the recent hearing, according to Assembly member Ricardo Lara (D-South Gate), who also is chair of LGBT issues for the California Latino Legislative Caucus.

"We have individual and unique circumstances that LGBT Latinos face," Lara said, "not only in mainstream society but in the Latino community, as well."

That culture clash within the Latino community is the biggest barrier to cross for many people, according to Lara -- himself included.

"At the end of the day, you can't take away my rice and beans," he said with a laugh. "But how I feel is, you shouldn't have to choose between your culture and your sexual orientation."

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Maybe I Do And Maybe I Don't

via The Village Voice, By Steven Thrasher

Kevin Beauchamp, 49, and Howard Orlick, 50, are both legally blind. Kevin is thin and wiry; his vision loss is degenerative, and eventually he'll go completely blind. For now, he sees a little through one eye, making out shapes when there is enough contrast. With the aid of adaptive software, he's able to read modified text when he's not too tired.

Don't Ask, Don't TellBrian BrownKevin BeauchampSame-Sex MarriageLGBT IssuesHoward is broad and muscular. Because of a genetic condition, he sees nothing in daylight. The sun's light acts on him like snow blindness. But at night, he has some vision. During the day, Kevin's dwindling vision is enough for him to get by with a cane. But at night, it's Howard who guides Kevin as they walk together.

For nine years, they've been together, relying on each other to get down the street and up steps and around corners, so that they could do what had been a major part of their forties—protesting for the right of gay couples to marry.

They carried a banner together in the National Equality March in D.C. (Howard admits that he worried about falling in a manhole.) And Kevin was arrested last March while participating in a demonstration that shut down the intersection of Sixth Avenue and 42nd Street at rush hour, even though police didn't seem interested in cuffing a blind man carrying a white cane.

"The cops looked at me and passed me right by," Kevin says, laughing as he adds, "Of course, I didn't know that at the time."

The NYPD officers handcuffed Kevin only after another of the protesters complained, "He's with us! Arrest him, too!"

Both men have been hard at work fighting for gay rights in their forties. They each buried previous partners in their thirties.

Howard says that when his late partner, Peter, died, his family didn't treat him like a widower, even though "we were just like a married couple—the only thing was that we couldn't get married."

Read more.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Word ‘Fag’ Makes an Impression

 via Curve, By Lyndsey D'Arcangelo

The phrase “not even human” sounds a bit extreme, but I do believe the words are meant to degrade. Which sums up a truth in American society: African Americans and gays are not considered whole American citizens.

People privileged enough to have all their rights often say, “OK, we know you’re gay, just shut up about it, we don’t need to hear it.”

But silence just makes it easier to pretend that LGBT people and injustice don’t exist.

It’s interesting that those same people are typically the ones who take it for granted that they can prattle on about their lives, families, and what they have planned for the weekend, but they expect a gay person to “just shut up about it?”

Read more.

Friday, July 29, 2011

I f - - k HARDER!

[Have you ever experienced homophobic comments or judgmental looks from people that live with you or in your community? Have you even stood up against the hate ? Well here is a "love letter" to those who pass hate. Let's stand up against the HATE!]

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

HHS Moves to Review Outdated Lifetime Gay Blood Donor Deferral

[Sources: Senators John Kerry (D-Mass) & Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) , GMHC]

LifeLube today applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for outlining concrete steps toward ending the outdated, discriminatory lifetime ban on gay men from donating blood.

In a question-and-answer document, HHS described four areas of necessary study to allow a further review of the existing policy, and implementation of the June 2010 recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability (ACBSA).

These areas include:

•    How the risk of blood transmissible diseases in the current donor population relate to the risk factors in donors;

•    The root cause of quarantine release errors (QRE), the accidental release of blood not cleared for use that potentially put the blood supply at risk;

•    If potential donors correctly understand the current questionnaire and if men who have sex with men (MSM) would comply with modified deferral criteria; and

•    If alternative screening strategy (e.g. pre- and/or post-qualifying donation infectious disease testing) for MSM (and potentially other high-risk donors) would assure blood safety while enabling data collection that could demonstrate safe blood collection from a subset of MSM or other currently deferred donors.

Highlighting what some of our state officials and partners have done for this effort thus far, we want to continue to fight to end discriminatory ban.

In February 2010, GMHC released a comprehensive report titled "A Drive For Change: Reforming U.S. Blood Donation Policies," which details the FDA's current blood donation guidelines and provides recommendations for alternative guidelines that emphasize behavior-based deferrals. In June 2010, GMHC provided testimony at the ACBSA meeting held to review the MSM policy. GMHC has long advocated for consistently applied standards of rigorous, scientifically-based blood safety, contributing to an increased pool of blood donors

In June 2010, Mark Skinner spoke on behalf of the American Plasma Users Coalition (A-PLUS) at the ACBSA meeting held to review the MSM policy.  A-PLUS is a coalition of national patient organizations created to address the unique needs of over 125,000 patients with rare diseases that use life-saving plasma protein therapies and are dependent on blood plasma therapies to lead healthy.  A-PLUS has acknowledged that the scientific basis for the permanent deferral requires review, and previously indicated that there are a number of factors which should be fully evaluated before making a revision to the policy. Such evaluation and research could lead to a policy revision that maintains or enhances the safety of blood and blood products.

Senator John Kerry has been a longtime advocate for updating this discriminatory policy.  Last year, he wrote two separate letters to the FDA urging them to abolish the policy along with an op-ed on the ban in Bay Windows, New England’s largest LGBT newspaper.

Congressman Mike Quigley spear-headed an op-ed co-authored by seven House Democrats urging HHS to revise its blood donation policy.  Quigley and Kerry also wrote also a bi-cameral letter to HHS calling for an end to the ban and submitted testimony to HHS for a two-day hearing reviewing the policy.
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