Tag: lesbian

Bullies; The Mystery

Teaching Tolerance

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Since I was a child he hounded me.  She stalked me.  I was bullied, intimidated, tormented not by a single person, but by a throng of thoughts.  Why did another child, adolescent, nay adult ever bully me.  What was it about me that kept me safe from harm or a persecutor’s pointed proclamations?  

On Gay History, Or, This Is Not A Stonewall Story

Pride Month has come and gone, Gentle Reader, with no comment from this desk.

It’s not that I’m in some way insensitive to the subject; instead it’s more of a desire, once again, to stay off the beaten path.

And in that spirit, I do indeed have a story of Gay History…but it’s not from the Summer of ’69…instead, this story was already well underway before the Summer of ’29.

So put on something très chic and let’s head on over to Harlem…at the time of the Renaissance…because it’s time to meet Gladys Bentley.


More good news on the LGBT front: HIV travel ban to be lifted soon

Last week I posted a diary about LGBT legislation before Congress, suggesting that all was not doom and gloom in the fight for LGBT rights.  Now there’s more good news coming down the pipeline: on Friday the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) posted on its website the words that activists have been waiting years to see:

Title: Medical Examination of Aliens: Removal of HIV Infection as a Communicable Disease of Public Health Significance

With this we move one significant step closer to getting rid of one of the worst and most discriminatory bits of immigration law currently on the books: the HIV travel ban.

Good News on the LGBT front! (and what you need to do to help)

Once more to the well.  

Without rehashing the last weeks’ debates over President Obama’s relationship with the LGBT rights movement, I wanted to outline a list of legislation that is currently in play, along with recommendations about what we can do to help speed the processes along.  There’s nothing worse than the feeling that we have no say in the political process, but here are four opportunities to get vocal in a concrete, direct way:

1. the Domestic Partner Benefits and Obligation Act

2. the Employment Non-Discrimination Act

3. the Matthew Shepard Act

4. the Military Readiness Enhancement Act

And the best part is, you really can help.  All four of these bills are before Congress (or about to be introduced), and your representatives are waiting to hear from you.

About tomorrow’s Prop 8 decision.

Whether tomorrow’s Prop 8 decision affects you directly or not, it’s likely to be a big moment for the LGBT movement, insofar as so many married and wanting-to-right-to-be-married couples are heavily invested in the outcome.  

I won’t waste words on the background of this issue since so much has been written already.  But if you value equality and want to be part of what happens next, I’ve put together a list of events and links that should be useful.

Brutal violence against gays, trans, etc.

Lest we forget:

The number of reported attacks against LGBT people increased 24 percent in 2007 over 2006, and they were expected to jump in 2008, said Sharon Stapel, executive director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

Associated Press

Not everything in the gay, lesbian, transgender, and otherwise queer world is about marriage and inauguration prayers.  But understanding these things in the context of fear and violence can help us come to terms with the anger and frustration that a lot of queer voters are facing.  Follow me below for more stories and statistics.

Do you know your LGBT history?

How well do you know LGBT history in the United States?

I put together a short (15 question) quiz addressing different facts, figures, and facets of this long and diverse history.  See how many you know, then join me for a discussion in the comments section below.

Friday Philosophy: Choosing happiness

It’s an old argument.  Old as the hills.  Older than some kinds of dirt.  But then, so am I.

The thinking goes like this:

It is totally wrong to discriminate against someone because of something they had no control over.

Nobody could disagree with that.  Surely I don’t.  But as someone who taught logic for a quarter century, I am all too aware of human frailty in this matter.  Some people read that as having the implication that it would not be wrong to discriminate against someone because of what they did choose.

There’s the culprit:  thinking that it is okay to discriminate against people.

Olympic gold for LGBT athletes

Though the Olympics aren’t quite over, I thought it’d be good to bring people’s attention to the openly queer athletes who’ve succeeded in Beijing, despite the stigma often attached whenever sports and sexuality cross paths.  

Stories like theirs often slip between the cracks, despite 24/7 coverage of the games.  But as long as stereotypes exist about the ability of gay, lesbian, bi, and trans athletes to perform at the same level as their peers, we need their stories to remind us that they can and do succeed.  

Here’s a quick roundup of athletes who are not only at the top of their game, but also open members of the LGBT community.

in Other news…

I haven’t done one of these in a while, but it seemed like a good time to let people know what’s going on in the world of queer politics and activism.  I’ll try to post these more regularly again, but my schedule’s still a little sporadic to fix a concrete posting time.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy, and if you have other news blurbs that I’ve missed, please feel free to add them below.

  • Of course the big news lately is the flood of marriages in California (to which my own will soon be added), which has not caused the Biblical flood predicted by our right-wing religious compatriots.  In LA county alone, the first day of legal marriages prompted some three times the usual marriage traffic (pdf!).  If you need a real boost today, check out the Bilerico Project’s photo page, and bask in the joy of thousands of happy families.  

    The liberal media is stoking the flames, with noted leftist rag The Wall Street Journal posting an unequivocally positive editorial, “Gay Marriage is Good for America”:  

    In 2008, denying gay Americans the opportunity to marry is not only inhumane, it is unsustainable. History has turned a corner: Gay couples – including gay parents – live openly and for the most part comfortably in mainstream life. This will not change, ever.

  • From heaven to hell in one quick leap:

    Violence against the transgender community rarely makes the evening news, but the case of Duanna Johnson is so extreme that people are starting to pay attention.  While being booked for alleged prostitution in Memphis, a police officer called over to her:

    Actually he was trying to get me to come over to where he was, and I responded by telling him that wasn’t my name – that my mother didn’t name me a ‘faggot’ or a ‘he-she,’ so he got upset and approached me. And that’s when it started,” Johnson said.

    I can’t do justice to what happens next: you need to see the video for yourself.  WMCtv provides the full security clip, so you can see that it’s not being taken out of context (the incident in question starts around the 1:30 mark.)

    One police officer let go, another put into an office job, and a pending investigation with support from the FBI.  But the Memphis police is being flooded with complaints that this was not an isolated incident.  Do we laugh or cry at something like this?

    “It made me sick,” [Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin] said Thursday. “I was infuriated. I notified the FBI because they needed to investigate to see if this person’s civil rights were violated.”

    If this person’s civil rights were violated???

  • in Other news…

    Welcome to a (semi)weekly roundup of news related to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and otherwise “Other” community.

    • The New York Times reports on the worsening situation for queer Iraqis since the American invasion, which has allowed a sharp increase in religious fanaticism:  

      In 2005, Iraq’s most revered Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, issued a fatwa, or religious decree, calling for gay men and lesbians to be killed in the “worst, most severe way.

      He lifted it a year later, but neither that nor the recent ebb in violence has made Mohammed or his friends feel safe.

      The article covers the rollercoaster of social opinions on queer culture from 1990 through now, and is well worth the read.

    • Good luck finding student housing if you’re transgender: Southern Utah University is denying a transgender student housing until he can provide a doctor’s note (literally!) verifying his gender, a requirement not exactly placed on its other housing applicants.  The University’s policy requires proof of full, complete transition; otherwise says the housing director, “Where they’re in the process [of gender transition] I have no place to put them.”  Meanwhile the prohibitive cost of gender reassignment surgery will likely keep the student, Kourt Osbourn, from meeting the University’s requirements.
    • Accused of homosexual acts, Iranian Makwan Moloudzadeh was murdered in prison by guards earlier this month.  I’m not one to flare up in anger, but this is fucking barbaric.  In the meantime, the U.S. is still considering deportation of Iranian gays begging for amnesty… further proof that our own fundamentalists have more in common with Iran than they’d like to admit.

    More below the fold…

    in Other news…

    Welcome to a weekly roundup of news related to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and otherwise “Other” community.

    Lots of good reading this week!

    • December 1st was World AIDS Day, a reminder that the epidemic continues unabated through most of the world, new and expensive medicines notwithstanding.  Various activist groups, from the Stonewall Democrats and the National Black Justice Coalition used to the day to note the increasing lack of interest in AIDS activism, but the most stinging indictment came from Charles King, president and CEO of Housing Works (a group that targets HIV/AIDS and homelessness):

      The reality is that AIDS is no longer so much a gay disease in the United States as it is a disease of race and poverty.  And that brings to light a dirty secret about the organized and politically engaged gay community.  We are overwhelmingly white and reasonably well-off, and our movement is almost exclusively about rights for ourselves and people like us.

      Check out the whole speech if you get the chance. (h/t Doug Ireland)

    • Uruguay prepares to legalize civil unions for unmarried couples regardless of gender.  This makes Uruguay the first Latin American country to pass equitable legal protections for both straight and gay couples, which puts them ahead of most of the United States.
    • A gay Muslim activist outs himself at an international conference on HIV in Muslim countries… with surprising results:

      The following morning, the ulama [scholars] had a surprise.

      Conference spokesperson and IRW head of policy Willem van Eekelen read their collective statement, saying that although Islam does not accept homosexuality, Islamic leaders would try to help create an environment in which gay people could approach social workers and find help against AIDS without feeling unsafe.

      “This first time ever that a high-level religious forum has talked, acknowledged and accepted gays,” said AbualSameed.

      “This will open the door to talks with the Muslim gay community and help other gay Muslims to come out in a safer space.”

      Suhail AbualSameed, a Jordanian living in Canada, decided to out himself to counter the harsh language his colleagues used to describe homosexuals: including the old standbys “pervert” and “rapist”.

    • The bureaucratic hell faced by immigrants gets an uglier twist in the case of Hassan Parhizkar, a middle-aged gay Iranian who faces deportation for being the victim of a scam artist.  Worse, Parhizkar’s sexuality guarantees him a hellish return to the country he fled in 1990 specifically because he was outed while a member of the Revolutionary Guard.  Gay City News has the entire story, from Parhizkar’s noncompliance with immigration law due to a con-man posing as an immigration lawyer to the practice of gay witch hunts in the Iranian military.  

      You can also sign an online petition protesting Parhizkar’s impending deportation or contribute to his legal fund (see link above for full details).

    More below…

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