YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
Jun 18, 2013
The Social Security Administration (SSA) announced last Friday that it would be changing their outdated gender marker policy. For the transgender community and our supporters, this is a big step forward. Previously, the gender marker on one’s social security card could only be changed after gender affirmation surgery. Not only are these surgeries expensive and typically not covered by insurance, but they are not desired by all members of the trans community. The new SSA policy allows an individual to change their gender marker by presenting a passport or birth certificate reflecting their desired gender or a letter from a doctor confirming they are receiving “appropriate clinical treatment”.
As a trans person I am ecstatic to learn of the SSA’s policy change, but this policy further complicates my “official governmental identity”. I have legally changed my name, however, my gender marker remains in limbo at the discretion of individual policies. Currently, I am able to change my gender marker on my social security card, my health insurance card, and my passport. As a New Hampshire resident, I cannot change my driver’s license or birth certificate. While a handful of states allow people to change their gender on the driver’s license and birth certificate without having gender affirmation surgery, New Hampshire is not one of those states. Legal recognition as a male by some institutions and female as other creates unnecessary inconsistency. It is time for a singular, national procedure for changing one’s gender marker.
Although I have chosen to medically transition, I do not identify with either gender. Thus, I am not too shaken by still having an “F” on the majority of my legal documents. I can imagine the dysphoria and trauma this causes many trans people though. If there ever is a uniform policy for changing one’s gender marker, I hope the option for a third gender is included. As of July 1, Australians will have the option of identifying as gender “X”, signaling intermediate, intersex, or unspecified. This option acknowledges those who do not identify with either gender or identify as a combination of genders. The US should follow suit to celebrate the diversity of gender identity and expression among its citizens.
Jun 16, 2013
Let me start off by wishing everyone (who has a dad), a very Happy Fathers’ Day. Now that my heteronormative wishes have gone through, let me get right to the point. Celebrating Mothers and Fathers on separate days is straight up offensive. Do mind the pun. Having specific days dedicated to either mothers or fathers assumes that all families conform to “traditional” and “heteronormative’ lifestyles and does not acknowledge the fact that there are many families who do belong to these strict structures. LGBT families are an example that may come directly to mind. Imagine how offended (and hurt) members of such a family would be on Mothers or Fathers’ Day, feeling left out and marginalized from society, not able to take part of all the festivities that people like to organize around such holidays. It’s enough to look at any magazine around said holidays for a member of an LGBT family to feel the amount of insensitivity thrown at him/her/them. But LGBT families are not the only ones who suffer on such holidays. A similar situation applies to single parents as well as parents raising orphans or adopted children. And the list goes on. Therefore, I believe Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day should be abolished and replaced by Parents’ Day, celebrating all parents around the world, no matter their background. Parenthood is not restricted to any age, relationship status, gender, sex, sexual expression, etc. In this age of political correctness, when will Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day be ruled insensitive?
PS: National Parents’ Day is celebrated in the US on the fourth Sunday of every July. Though the intention of its establishment in 1994 (during Clinton’s administration) was not to be politically correct, I think such a case must be made loud and clear.
Jun 15, 2013
“Together we can end HIV stigma, but we need to be able to TALK ABOUT IT. Share this graphic to continue the conversation and encourage your network of friends to speak up!”
Jun 11, 2013
Jun 1, 2013
Jun 1, 2013
According to the Bay Area Reporter this stamp of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician elected to public office, will be released in 2014.
Jun 1, 2013
After the Boy Scouts announced earlier this week that they would allow openly gay scouts to remain in the program, but would refuse to accept gay and lesbian adult leaders, the California senate hit them back–by taking away their tax-exempt status.
Boy Scouts of America is a non-profit organization that does not have to pay taxes to the government because of the service that they do for the youth of America which, up until recently, did not include openly gay or queer youth. BSA’s decision, which was a long anticipated one, to allow queer youth but not queer adults was a huge let down and is (duh) still discriminatory.
The California senate’s vote to remove the organization’s tax-exempt status is bold, smart and strategic. If BSA can’t understand that their policies are hurting the program for their members, then maybe they’ll think about how those policies will affect their wallets.
Your move, Boy Scouts.
May 31, 2013
On Wednesday, the highest court in El Salvador denied an abortion to a woman with a pregnancy that is so high-risk that doctors say it could kill her. Beatriz, 22, is carrying a 26-week fetus with anencephaly, a birth defect that means part of the brain and skull are missing and that the baby will almost certainly die at birth. Beatriz’s doctors say the abortion is necessary for Beatriz’s health and perhaps to save her life. But by a vote of 4–1, the Salvadoran judges ruled that in light of the country’s absolute ban on abortion, “the rights of the mother cannot be privileged over those” of the fetus.
El Salvador’s complete ban on abortions has become relatively rare worldwide, as the first map below shows. Keep scrolling and you will see enormous variation in how countries (and states in the U.S.) regulate abortion and birth control. Our main sources of data for these maps are the United Nations, the Guttmacher Institute, the Population Reference Bureau, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and Harvard University’s Center for Population and Development Studies.
The maps reflect continuing change: Uruguay recently legalized first-trimester abortions, and courts in Columbia, Brazil, and Argentina have begun to allow them in certain cases. Meanwhile in the United States, Republican-led statehouses have been tightening restrictions since the 2010 election. It’s the largest wave of legislation in the decades since Roe v. Wade.
May 31, 2013
Whenever abortion is the topic of a conversation, especially when spoken of as a choice that someone wants to make for whatever reason that’s personally valid to them, there is always someone who pops up and says, “Adoption is an option too!” You know, as if that thought never occurred to anyone ever or it’s some kind of a magical word to rid one of an unwanted pregnancy. I witness it all the time on my STFU Pro-Lifers blog through the large amount of messages I receive on a daily basis, but yesterday a self-proclaimed pro-choicer shared that familiar, derailing insight you hear from anti-choicers. Granted, she had her own personal experiences with abortion and adoption. I made sure that she knew how appreciative and grateful I was to her for sharing those experiences with me. But it was something she said that really bugged me. There were a few sentences subtly expressing privilege and ignorance.
“It isn’t that hard to find someone to adopt a baby…”
She also mentioned the baby she gave up for adoption was blonde haired and blue eyed. It’s another discussion that makes it clear how important it is to be intersectional. She was speaking solely as a white woman in her experiences with adoption. She somehow gained an adoption lawyer at no personal cost to her. Adoptive parents quickly lined up for this white blue eyed baby. And the parents the girl chose to adopt her baby paid for her one year of school tuition. She was happy with her decision, and that’s great. I’m happy for her. Anyone would be.
But for the part about how “easy” it is to get someone to adopt a baby… well, I quickly and politely corrected her. She thanked me and then told me that she loves my blog. The matter was settled. It still bugs me though, and it’s not so much the person but the original line of thinking shared by so many people. You hear things like that all the time. Oh, you’re pregnant and don’t want to be? But there are tons of people out there who can’t have children! You should consider adoption!
I guess no one told them that less than 2% of our entire population actually adopts, and when they do adopt, the less than 2% tend to favor the able-bodied, young, emotionally sound, sibling-less, white baby. [source] And really? Agreeing to the idea of an adoption won’t make an unwanted pregnancy go poof! There are still nine, agonizing months of a condition that was never consented to. I mean, most pregnancies are already really difficult for those who do it willingly. There are tons of complications that arise during those three, brave trimesters. I can’t even begin to imagine how traumatic it is for those who desperately don’t want to be pregnant but were forced to remain so.
Don’t want to raise a child? Fine! Adoption is definitely an alternative to parenthood. Just keep in mind that abortion is an alternative to a pregnancy. That’s how it works. Don’t talk to me about how there are tons of people in the world who can’t have children. No one should be forced into being a brood mare for someone else. No one owes their body to anyone else.
As pro-choicers, it’s inherent in our very name that we celebrate choice whether it be parenthood, adoption, or abortion. We keep in mind that our lives are individual, and the same can be said about our choices.
May 30, 2013
Recently I came across an article on the Catholic News Agency (http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/cw/post.php?id=713) that presented the argument that marriage can never be gay because marriage was not intended for “happiness”, but for “the good of the other(s). The primary “other” being the spouse, and the subsequent “others” being children who issue forth from that union.” Let me begin with saying that I agree.
Don’t kill me.
I don’t think that marriage was originally intended for happiness. The author notes that for thousands of years we have all bought into this delusion, but in truth the idea of marrying for love and subsequently happiness is a new one. For many years most cultures agreed that marriage was for one, the exchange of goods and two, procreation. So in that respect the author is correct: traditionally, marriage wasn’t manufactured for happiness, though happiness was certainly a nice fringe benefit.
But that is where our agreement ends.
Because although marriage was not ORIGINALLY intended for happiness, I disagree with Ms. Uebbing when she says “Marriage…isn’t subject to innovation or alteration as the tides of change sweep through a culture.” I hate to say that she is wrong, but she is wrong. The institution of marriage is a part of our culture, which is why different cultures have different marital customs (including different restrictions on who one can marry). To assert otherwise is to mistakenly believe one’s culture is superior to all others, that one’s culture is “natural”, rendering everyone else’s “unnatural”. Furthermore, Ms. Uebbing implies that her own marital customs haven’t evolved over thousands of years. There are documented records of polygamous marriages in the Bible and yet the Catholic Church and the culture that surrounds it have deemed that that is no longer acceptable. They can do this because marriage is NOT something inherent in nature, but a conglomerate of customs constructed by humans. As such it can change.
And it has.
So really Ms. Uebbing argument that marriage between two homosexuals is “impossible” because it is “unnatural” is incorrect from the start. There is no such thing as a “natural” marriage. Furthermore, by Ms. Uebbing’s reasoning a heterosexual couple that is incapable of having children is also “unnatural”. Yet Ms. Uebbing asserts “children are the natural fruit of marriage. Oftentimes biological, and sometimes adopted. Sometimes only in a spiritual sense. Whichever way they come, marriage alone is uniquely capable of ensuring their autonomy and dignity are protected.” Here she seems to be implying that although most children are biological, one can obtain children through other means, thus making the marriage “natural” again. But the unsaid remark is that you can only do this if you are heterosexual.
I’m sorry Ms. Uebbing, but you cannot have it both ways.
At the risk of being yelled at, I would like to make a bold declaration, one that might make a lot of people angry: God did not create marriage.
The Bible states that God created Adam and Eve and that these two people lived together and had children and loved each other. But God did not marry them. God did not have them walk down an aisle and say their vows. If Adam and Eve did indeed get married they did it themselves. As a Christian, I wholly believe that God created love.
But humans created marriage.
So though I agreed with Ms. Uebbing when she stated, “marriage is a revealed truth of something written within our very being,” I don’t agree that that revealed truth is procreation.
I think its love.
The uniting of “one man and one woman in the untiring pursuit of the good of the other, for the love and service of the children it produces” is love, love for your spouse and love for the children you raise together and shouldn’t be restricted to just the sole pairing of a man to a woman. The truth of the matter is many homosexual couples are not marrying JUST for happiness. Many are marrying because they want to be there for their spouse in every capacity. They want to share bills, to have the ability to visit their loved one when they are on their deathbeds, to be able to place them on their healthcare plan. They want to raise children together, to ensure these children grow up to be well adjusted and contribute to society. They know that marriage is not about one person’s happiness or the wedding dress, or what they personally want: They know it’s a total gift of self. They don’t want to settle for less.
That’s the point.
The reason why the right to marry is indeed a human rights issues is BECAUSE marriage is more than happiness. We don’t have a right to happiness. We have a right to pursue it, not just for ourselves but also for “the good of the other(s).” We have a lawful and NATURAL right to love.
What we all need to do is come to recognize marriage for what it has become: a legal and cultural recognition of two people in love.
This may not be the original definition of marriage. This may not be your definition of marriage, Ms. Uebbing. But that doesn’t matter because the definition of marriage is ever changing. “Laws don’t define marriage.”
May 30, 2013
There are a lot of forces out there trying to misinform the public, especially the youth, when it comes to reproductive/sexual health and rights. One of the biggest groups out there is called Live Action. When you look up Live Action on Google, they’re listed as a non-profit pro-life organization. According to them, they are a “youth led movement dedicated to building a culture of life and ending abortion.” They claim to do undercover investigation in clinics to prove and document “illegal, inhuman, and gruesome” practices and share it on social media sites. To this organization, abortion is:
An enterprise built on destroying pre-born children for money leaves few rules unbroken. But the abortion industry’s corruption goes deeper than most people would think: from threatening women’s lives with dangerously bad medical advice, to protecting child sex-trafficking rings, to covering up statutory rape, to actions even more heinous. Live Action’s undercover exposés document these many abuses, so the whole world can see the horrors going on right in our backyards – and paid for with our tax money.
The above statements were taken right off of the home page of their website. Now despite their best efforts to intentionally misinform the public about abortion and Planned Parenthood services, people have caught on. One of the many people to call out Live Action’s lies is a YouTube vlogger named Cristina Rad who is popular on the Internet for her commentary on her atheism, gender politics, and casual ideas of social justice. The Live Action video she tackled and is most popular for is called We are the Youth. You can watch her video response here. I would definitely recommend ignoring the Live Action video and go straight to Cristina’s response, especially since Cristina actually cites some statistics in her description.
It’s beyond a YouTube vlog debunking Live Action videos though. Media Matters, “a research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the Media,” lists hoax after hoax created by Live Action. Even Slate, a major online magazine on politics and culture, has recently come out with a video that reveals how Live Action’s deceptive editing is intentionally done to frame doctors and clinic staff. The video that Slate chose to analyze has unfortunately already been promoted and aired on TV news (if you really count Fox News as news at all–countries with laws against lying on the news certainly don’t) and commentary programs after the Kermit Gosnell incident. But Slate’s video is worth the view, because they go through all the raw footage that Live Action leaves out and reveals what Live Action didn’t want the average viewer to see.
Seriously! Click the link below to watch!
May 27, 2013
May 25, 2013
Mississippi Could Soon Jail Women for Stillbirths & Miscarriages?
On March 14, 2009, 31 weeks into her pregnancy, Nina Buckhalter gave birth to a stillborn baby girl. She named the child Hayley Jade. Two months later, a grand jury in Lamar County, Mississippi, indicted Buckhalter for manslaughter, claiming that the then-29-year-old woman “did willfully, unlawfully, feloniously, kill Hayley Jade Buckhalter, a human being, by culpable negligence.”
The district attorney argued that methamphetamine detected in Buckhalter’s system caused Hayley Jade’s death. The state Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on the case on April 2, is expected to rule soon on whether the prosecution can move forward.
If prosecutors prevail in this case, the state would be setting a “dangerous precedent” that “unintentional pregnancy loss can be treated as a form of homicide,” says Farah Diaz-Tello, a staff attorney with National Advocates for Pregnant Women, a nonprofit legal organization that has joined with Robert McDuff, a Mississippi civil rights lawyer, to defend Buckhalter. If Buckhalter’s case goes forward, NAPW fears it could spur a wave of similar prosecutions in Mississippi and other states.
May 18, 2013
I strictly assumed that by this time period humans would not be arguing over equality, inclusion, and sexual health. Apparently, some Americans don’t want their children learning about “the gays”, “the lesbians”, “the immigrants” or “cultures.” Some are even outraged because “white heterosexuals” are “no longer represented.” These are authentic words spoken from citizens present in the committee for HB 1081 or “The Sex Ed Bill”, on Thursday February 7th. I went into committee humming “I’m just a Bill” to ease the nerves, because I had no idea what to expect for my first committee hearing. I was not prepared to speak, but after listening to the opposition’s arguments that were no more than racist and discriminative, I wanted my voice heard. I was “the gay” that they rejected, and the “immigrant” that disgusted them, and the “culture” that they were opposed too.
My turn came to speak. Hesitant I got up from my chair, stepped slow and cautious to the stand while I felt judgment from the many eyes in the room. I thought repeatedly in my head what I wanted to say, but as soon as my mouth said the first word, everything seemed to vanish from my brain. What was a high school student to say? Hell, why was he even here? I sat down. My voice shook as I said my name, but I remembered the woman who didn’t want “the gays” and the “immigrants” in her white heterosexual culture and said “I am here representing the Latino community who cannot be here today because they do not speak English, or have the resources to be here.” Yes, I said Latino with an accent because in that very moment, I had never been more proud to be a person of color. I then stated “I would like to begin by saying that I identify as gay.” Never had a said “I identify as gay” openly, in public. I knew however that this was the time to truly express myself as an advocate.
I testified for HB 1081 in a way I never thought I would. I not only came out to the 12 legislators in the room, but I came out to the priest in the back who probably damned me to hell ten times over, the woman who drove from Colorado Springs to attack communities I am a part of, and the many allies in that room which gave me the boost of confidence I much needed. I didn’t have a clear understanding of why I do the work I do. I knew I had a passion for the education of individuals, the equality of humans, and empowerment of the mind, but it took that one woman saying “the gays” and “the immigrants” to accurately put this into perspective. Not only was I advocating for Comprehensive Sexual Health Education, but I was making a stand for everything that is included in Comp Sex Ed; The inclusion of culture, ability, gender, age, sexual orientation, size, and ethnicity. Comprehensive Sexual Health addresses the respect for others and respect for yourself, which is why I was able to testify, and confront the opposition: Learning about my body, my actions and reactions, and my rights as a young person has allowed me to gain self assurance and confidence. The experience of testifying for committee was electrifying, intimidating, but mostly rewarding and reflective, and I can only hope that I was remembered among the citizens who don’t want the “the gays”, “the lesbians”, or “the immigrants” in their culture, these pitiful underprivileged people: Where are they represented?
May 18, 2013
Thought I’d use this space for a bit of self-love. I did not receive the Fellowship (300 applicants, 5 positions), but I think the application adequately summarizes my devotion to LGBTQ activism and surveys my skills and experiences. Feel free to contact me if you see something you like (firstname.lastname@example.org)!
“On-campus C.V. 2013 (Justin Kalinay)
Major: Anthropology and Classical Studies Double Major
Graduated Magna Cum Laude from the College of Wooster 2013
Member of Lambda Alpha (National Collegiate Honors Society for Anthropology) 2013-Current
Member of Eta Sigma Phi (National Collegiate Honors Society for Classical Studies) 2011-Current
Numerous Scholarships and Grants, Wooster and Extra-Curricular 2009-2013
Dean’s List 2009-2012
SGA Budget Committee Member 2013; Cultural Activities Committee Member 2012
• Reviews student organizations’ budgets and decides how to allocate the Student Activities’ Fund into these budgets, per Campus Council regulations. This year’s committee will review all 103 budget applications. The Cultural Activities Committee I was part of last year only reviewed the Multi-Ethnic, Performance, and Special Interest groups.
Global Queerness Conference Intern (2012)
• Coordinated a volunteer force of approximately 35 students; organized, set-up and ran Dance event with two other interns; aided in setting up and maintaining Facebook page and Facebook Events for the Conference; provided suggestions and advice to conference organizers; ran Registration table and provided information to Conference participants; aided in cross-campus PR for the Conference; and provided technical support for a number of the Conference workshops.
Ohio Youth Advocates Leadership Council (2012-2013)
• Trained sex and reproductive health educator and activist. Based under the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland and the national Advocates for Youth organization. Involves the creation and implementation of a number of events and PR campaigns regarding sexual and reproductive health, LGBTQ rights, and comprehensive sex education on the Wooster campus and across Ohio.
COW Circle K – President 2010-2013; Relay for Life Chair 2010; Fundraising Chair 2010
• President: Running general and board meetings; coordinating between club and school Administration and club and CKI’s Ohio District; aiding in the planning of events and meetings, etc.
• Relay for Life Chair: Running CKI’s RfL team. Organizing fundraisers and PR and ensuring at least one person from the team is on the track for the duration of the 18 hr event.
• Fundraising Chair: Researches and runs a number of different fundraisers throughout the year. Works specifically with major projects such as Battle of the Bands, the Great American Bake Sale, and Relay for Life.
COW Spectrum – Creating Change Conference Committee Chair 2013; Policy Founder & Second Chair 2012-2013; Outreach Founder & Chair 2011-2012; Event Planning Chair 2011-2013; Seven Days of Gays Committee Member 2010-2012
• Creating Change Committee Chair: Coordinates programs and initiatives created from data and experiences gathered at the Creating Change Conference 2013.
• Policy Committee Founder & Second Chair: Creates and pursues a number of LGBTQ policy issues on-campus. Assists in the running of weekly policy committee meetings; in contacting members of the College Administration; and in researching the issues the committee wishes to address and how they have been handled by other schools and organizations.
• Outreach Founder & Chair: Works to maintain contacts with a number of local and state LGBTQ organizations and colleges/universities; represents the College of Wooster in NEOHA and Going True (CoW’s LGBTQ alumni organization); publishes a monthly/bi-monthly LGBTQ magazine/newsletter called the Q.U.I.L.T.(ed) B.A.G.pipe and an Events Newsletter.
• Event Planning Chair: Brainstorms and executes a number of smaller-scale projects throughout the school year. These events do not include 7 Days of Gays (which has its own committee) or Out in October (which is handled by the officers)
• Seven Days of Gays Committee Member: Assists in the production of 7 Days of Gays, Spectrum’s annual week of events Spring semester. Involves reserving space, finding performers, contacting administration, PR, and set-up and teardown of events.
Wooster Kung Fu & Tai Chi Club 2011-2012
• Treasurer and member. Learned some Wing Chun forms and part of the Shaoilin Tiger Staff form
Year One Editorial Staff 2011, 2012, 2013
• Takes Year One submissions and decides which to incorporate into the annual Year One publication. If necessary, works with chosen authors to edit their entries for grammar, content, etc.
Student Government Association – Class of 2009 Senator 2009-2010
• Reviewed a number of different issues on-campus, acting a voice for the students of my class year in the identification of possible problems and the implementation of their solutions.
Occupation: Lowry Special Events Crew 2011-2013 (Crew Leader 2012-2013)
• Crew Leader: Sets up and tears down events across campus. Acts as night manager for Lowry Center twice a week. Manages Crew on larger events and assists in the running of Crew meetings.
Kurt Holmes – Kholmes@wooster.edu – 220-263-2011 – Dean of Students at the College of Wooster
Santha Schuch – Sschuch@wooster.edu – 330-263-2129 – Former Assistant Director of Student Activities (former head of Student Activities Crew); Administrative Coordinator at the College of Wooster
Judith Pindell, MSSA, LSW – Judithpindell@gmail.com – 216-347-1977 – Consultant, Advocates for Youth – Contact and boss for the Ohio Advocates
I do not have a specific “lightbulb” experience to share, at least not one that I can distinctly remember. Something clicked for me in Jr. High school, when I started getting involved with extracurricular activities, that I should do more with my life than sit around reading sci-fi/fantasy novels, excelling in my classes, and playing video games. My involvement in extracurricular activities provided me access to a specific social network of fellow do-gooders and activists. This network inspired me to strive harder in my search for excellence, self-worth, and a chance to create a better world (to my eyes). Such inspiration took form in an active drive for networking opportunities, professional and social; a desire for a healthier, fitter body; a need for human connection/interaction and general activity; and a hunger for knowledge of and experience in the wider world, especially surrounding rights, values, and culture. Community service and LGBTQ work both strike close to home due to my family’s relatively impoverished status and my own identification as a gay, cisgender, polyamorous male.
I legitimately enjoy doing community service because I am an empathetic individual; I take pleasure in making other people happy. Further, in educating myself on the particular situations and needs of my community I am able to better judge my own standing and needs. This examination allows me to organize my life by what is necessary versus frivolities and excess.
Work within the LGBTQ spectrum came with my entrance into a college environment and the freedom of expression that environment entails. I finally felt comfortable enough to explore my own sexuality and gender identity and the movements surrounding my rights to openly embark on such introspection. Concurrently, I now understand that I should be able to expect a support network and easily accessible resources for this search.
College has offered me an outlet in which to pour all of my surplus energy, drive, and craziness. Now I am looking for additional opportunities in which I can realize my full potential while assisting in the proper recognition of and respect for all peoples.
Ironically, I think one of my greatest accomplishments/experiences working with a group was in researching, budgeting, fundraising, and coordinating the travel of nine College of Wooster students to Atlanta, Georgia for the 25th annual Creating Change Conference. It was a life-changing experience which I have difficulty putting into words. Creating Change affected each of us deeply in different ways, but it solidified my dedication to LGBTQ activism and opened up a great number of networking and programming opportunities for our organization (Spectrum; the College of Wooster’s only LGBTQA organization). Since the conference, the nine students have met and planned six distinct events based on the following topics: the Transgender umbrella; Nontraditional relationships (Asexuality; Aromanticism; Nonmonogamy); Comprehensive Sex Education; LGBTQ Youth and Education; Nonmonosexual Identities (Bisexuality; Pansexuality; Fluid); and Racial Justice.
We have also added the Washington Institute and Robyn Ochs to our budget for next year based off their performances at CCC, and have recorded dozens of possible future speakers, conferences, programs, and events. We have used the framework of CCC to push for an altered discussion format for our meetings; the integration of preexisting Policy Committee initiatives with CCC data; and a new social experiment involving gender-neutral bathrooms. The fact that all of the students who attended CCC have stated that they would go back and that funding for six students to travel to Houston for CCC 2014 has been budgeted for next year validates the success of the program.
While I have coordinated the above efforts, each of my peers has contributed to the trip and the subsequent programs in a distinct manner. Each has offered to present materials on one of the aforementioned topics (which is part of a much larger list) and when we turn to brainstorming for next semester the ideas and energy just fly across the room. Having been forced to drag meetings and initiatives along almost by myself in the past, it is a most wonderful feeling to look at a group of friends and peers and see them inspired to “take action and create change.”
I want to take part in this fellowship because it is exactly what I want to DO with my life. I am an Anthropology major and an LGBTQ activist; these are two of the most important facets of my life at this moment. The opportunity to take the materials I have gained from all these classes, lectures, and workshops and apply them in the real world would mean the world for me on a personal, academic and financial level. Building connections between disparate groups and individuals; researching current policies and strategies to make them more inclusive; traveling, learning, and experiencing segments of populations and areas of the world I have never seen before is something I have been doing at the college level, but I feel it is only a microcosm of what the “real world” has to offer. I am idealist, I recognize that. The majority of my activist/advocacy experience has to do with sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, and race/ethnicity from a secular point of view; this is fact. Yet, I am more than willing to expand my horizons; to find a proper medium through which to structure my passions.
I can contribute my time, my energy, my determination, my passion, and a wealth of past experience with leadership and community organizing. Specifically: public speaking; organizing a diverse array of events (i.e., dances, lectures, panels, interactive activities, fundraisers, media campaigns, etc.); interacting with a multiplicity of individuals that range the spectrums of race, ethnicity, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, socioeconomic class, and religious identity; and leading several different types of groups/clubs/organizations in varying capacity for a time span of 1-4 years.
On a side note: I am also a great cook; I give excellent back rubs, I love hiking, video games, and muscly twinks; I can talk for hours on a subject I am passionate about; I always try to take in all sides of an argument before coming to a decision; I can switch from professional to social in a flash; and I am extremely flexible with scheduling (sleep is optional).”
Below is an excerpt of an essay I wrote for a Campus Council Leadership Award for the College of Wooster, This section speaks specifically to my reflections and immediate actions following my time at Creating Change 2013. Held in Atlanta, GA, this conference is notably the largest LGBTQ conference in the world. The conference changed my life. I attended numerous workshops; met my boyfriend at the Opening Cruise (at the Pop Culture table; we bonded over Doctor Who); listened to a number of excellent speakers; and danced my booty off at the various evening dance events. Next year’s CCC is in Houston. If you can attend…DO IT!
“My greatest accomplishment, however, was in researching, budgeting, fundraising, and coordinating the travel of nine College of Wooster students to Atlanta, Georgia for the 25th annual Creating Change Conference (CCC). This conference, hosted by the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce, is the largest LGBTQ conference in the world. It was a life-changing experience which I have difficulty putting into words. Creating Change affected each of us deeply in different ways, but it solidified my dedication to LGBTQ activism and opened up a great number of networking and programming opportunities for our organization. Since the conference we nine students have met and planned five distinct events based on the following topics: the Transgender umbrella; Nontraditional relationships (Asexuality; Aromanticism; Nonmonogamy); LGBTQ Youth and Education; Nonmonosexual Identities (Bisexuality; Pansexuality; Fluid); and Racial Justice. We have also added the Washington Institute and Robyn Och to our budget for next year based off their performances at CCC, and have recorded dozens of possible future speakers, conferences, programs, and events. I also used the framework of CCC to push for an altered discussion format for our meetings; the integration of preexisting Policy Committee initiatives with CCC data; and a new social experiment involving gender-neutral bathrooms. The fact that all of the students who attended CCC have stated that they would go back (barring funding) and that funding for six students to travel to Houston for CCC 2014 has been budgeted for next year validates, I believe, the success of the program.”
So before the Day of Silence this year (4/19/2013) I put up a post regarding my support of Nicki Antonio’s Day of Silence Resolution. A few weeks later I did a response paper regarding my experience during this year’s DoS for my “Gender and World Cultures” class.
My paper is below:
The Day of Silence, a day of respect, remembrance, and introspection, has been near and dear to my heart for several years now. I think it is a most excellent example of such concepts as power, agency, resistance, and accommodation. Below is a letter I wrote in response to Ohio Representative Nickie Antonio’s Day of Silence Resolution. This Resolution would recognize the Day of Silence as existent at the State level. My letter will be followed by a brief recounting of my experience participating in Day of Silence 2013 and how I find these experiences relevant to Gender in World Cultures.
My Letter: See previous blog post.
This year’s Day of Silence event was, most likely, my final opportunity to participate while at the College of Wooster. I fear that in the years to come I will be unable to take part due to work commitments; or that my participation will be somewhat devalued by my restricted access to a larger community (in which to be a void). So I made the best of it, and was silent from daybreak until approximately 5:30PM. I broke the silence theatrically with a poetry reading of an excerpt of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl. Throughout the day, I was confronted once more with the difficulty of nonverbal communication. The United States is one of the ONLY countries in the world where one language is exulted to the exclusion of all others; and English is not a very somatic language with which to work. I understand this difficulty to be a metaphor for the structural and literal silencing of subaltern classes of people.
The Day of Silence is targeted for LGBTQ Youth, but can be applied to anyone who does not fit within the particular power dynamics of a specific location. In much of the US, this paradigm is made up of upper- and middle- white, heterosexual (biological) males. While I only fit within the biological male portion of this profile (my family scrapes by but we are under the middle class mark) I can “pass” if I so desire. The Day of Silence reminds me of the reasons why I do NOT desire to “pass.” In so doing I would be denying my identity; in accessing preexisting “agency” I would be negating my own “power” and accountability. During the day I would find myself, frustrated by another’s inability to understand my impassioned attempts at communication, needing them to understand. I needed “them” to see me as a real person, to feel my essence, my character, my values, my funny little quirks and KNOW that I EXIST.
The Day of Silence reminds me to keep in check my own privilege and resist attempts by “the man” (not to blame all men for all problems; this is a conscious usage of an outmoded and inaccurate euphemism) to silence, to make false, ANY person, for ANY reason. Some might see the Day of Silence as a means of “accommodation,” as a silent, ineffective action that detracts from the social justice movement. For the reasons listed in the above letter and more, I cry out that this is false. The Day of Silence is necessary, especially for those of us born with at least some privilege in the current system, as an introspective effort. Social justice movements, LGBTQ or otherwise, need to understand WHY they are fighting and how they can be effective. Concurrently, supporters and “allies” need to understand the consequences of the loss of their friends and loved ones who are being silent. We must remember, however, that we are silent for ONE day, and then that silence is broken so that justice can, eventually, be met.
May 17, 2013
Created by me for this day specially.
The song use in the background is one which is sending a strong message of hatred for Homosexuals in the country and the Pictures bring across this message too.
May 17, 2013
In honor of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Susan Rice–US Representative to the United Nations–released this statement and video expressing support for equal rights for all individuals and communities, particularly LGBT youth.
Today, as we commemorate International Day Against Homophobia, we rededicate ourselves to a basic but essential truth – that human rights are universal and must be protected for all. Homophobia, sadly, is present in every corner of our world. And, it is a problem we continue to face here in the United States.
At the United Nations, the United States is standing up for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and fighting to ensure that their voices are heard and protected. The United States was proud to co-sponsor and adopt an historic resolution at the UN Human Rights Council condemning human rights abuses and violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
We will continue to work in every possible arena to protect communities and promote societies in which everyone – especially LGBT youth – can live safely and without fear regardless of who they are or whom they love. We call on all nations and all peoples to join us in ensuring that human rights are universally protected everywhere every day.
May 17, 2013
It is no secret- Jamaica is probably one of the most homophobic countries in the world. As we embrace and celebrate International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia we see that as a country we need to do much more in regards to protecting the human rights of the citizens and especially those who are most vulnerable and members of the LGBTQ community would fit in this.
Homophobia is generally defined as hostility towards or fear of gay lesbian persons. The definition can also refer to social ideologies which stigmatize homosexuality. There is countless incidence of hostility towards gays in Jamaica and the most recent that have gone public including the Minister of Education statement in the 2013 sectorial debate “we will not be grooming children towards same-sex unions” This statement he made in regards to a the controversial Health and Family Life Education Programme (HFLEP) curriculum, which was withdrawn last September, which he claims had a section in it that was to provide for grades seven to nine students questions as to whether they had ever been involved in homosexual and heterosexual sex. The Minister said that at least two persons involved in the drafting of the controversial curriculum had a gay agenda.
Education should be providing an avenue for agents of change in society and if the Minister of Education could make such a statement it reflects badly on our society. Individuals who are from the LGBTQ community are humans too and deserve love and attention; they should be cared for and not be discriminated against. Yes some might have outlandish lifestyle but all they want sometimes is tolerance as they live their lives. Hiding students away from the reality won’t help them, they need to become aware of the fact that Gay people live and or amongst them and develop coping strategies of accepting these individuals.
Another incident which had media coverage worldwide was that concerning the UTECH students who were allegedly caught in a compromising situation and one member was chased by an angry mob and beaten by a security guard; this went viral as it was film and place on several social media sites. What kind of world are we living in? I just imagine the emotional trauma that this had on the parties that were involved. Well to address the situation thee institution must be commended for their efforts of recently launching a “respect and tolerance initiative” which is geared towards sensitizing and bringing awareness to its populous of gay issues.
In the recently held annual road march to conclude a series of carnival events here in the islands a major incident went viral again centered on attacks against allegedly gays. The allegedly gay men were gyrating just like all other patrons and others looking on who did not like what they saw began to bottle these individuals and they return bottles to defend themselves. This incident leaves at least three individuals injured.
The reality is that Homophobia exists strongly in Jamaica. As to what needs to be done; MUCH MORE! The JFAG currently has a campaign on social media “We are Jamaicans Too” which is a beautiful initiative which see various individuals from human right organization and the LGBTQ community speaking out against homophobia. This initiative must be embraced and be given further support to have more impact.
IYSO Council Member
May 17, 2013
May 17, 2013
the we are Jamaicans campaign was started recently.
We Are Jamaicans is funded with the kind support of the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) through its Global Fund Vulnerablised Project.
the campaign is focused on equal rights for transsexual and homosexual Jamaicans.
May 17, 2013
May 17, 2013
International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, celebrated on May 17th is used to commemorate the decision taken by the World Health Organization in 1990 to remove homosexuality from the list of mental disorders. Though Quality of Citizenship Jamaica will not be doing an actual event this year, this statement is an expression of our solidarity with organisations, groups, and individuals around the world who will be celebrating.
The last report on State Sponsored Homophobia, produced by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Association (ILGA) and released in 2012, confirms the total number of countries in the world with a legislation persecuting people on the basis of their sexual orientation at 78.
In Jamaica anal sex between consenting adults is a criminal offence, which is used to harass, and discriminate against gay, bisexual and MSMs (GBMs). The discrimination however, is not limited to GBMs, and extends to transgender individuals, lesbian, bisexual and other women who have sex with women (LBWSWs). The discrimination includes physical and verbal abuses, homelessness and sexual violence (including corrective rapes of LBWSWs).
In 2012, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights had a list of issues for the Jamaican Government, one of which was:
“Please provide information on whether section 13 (2) (a) of the Constitution will be amended to include “sexual orientation, health and other status” as prohibited grounds for discrimination. Please also inform the Committee whether the Penal Code will be amended to decriminalize same-sex sexual relationships between consenting adults.”
The Jamaican Government responded in 2013:
“There is no intention at this juncture to amend section 13(2) (a) of the Constitution or the Penal Code in relation to sexual orientation. The Government of Jamaica is opposed to discrimination or violence against all individuals whether this is for reasons of gender, sexual preference or for other reasons. Further, all citizens have equal access to the law and the justice system. These rights were further reinforced with the amendment to Chapter III of the Constitution in April 2011 with a more comprehensive Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. Of note is the fact that all citizens have the right to equality before the law; the right to freedom from discrimination on the ground of being male or female, race, place of origin, social class, colour, religion or political opinions.”
Despite the government’s response, there is no equality for LGBT people. On paper the government paints a picture of equity and equality, yet there is no real recourse for the injustices faced by LGBT Jamaicans, and there are no solid protections.
In December 2011, the Attorney General of Jamaica stated at a symposium themed: “Human Rights, Sovereignty and the Politics of Truth”, that the extent of rights in Jamaica would be determined by Jamaican situations, not international standards and norms; this can ultimately pave the way for things like the human rights of LGBT Jamaicans to be guided by assertions such as, “Gay Rights are not Human Rights” by people such as Peter Espeut, chemist, sociologist, and Roman Catholic deacon in his February 15th article to the Jamaican Gleaner.
One of the core members (Angeline Jackson) of QCJ wrote a blog post in response to Mr. Espeut’s article which has been edited and is included below.
Espeut: “Is it not the LGBT lobby that is being totalitarian here? By trying to get laws passed which impose LGBT beliefs on us all, whether we subscribe to them or not? Isn’t LGBT tyranny about seeking to legitimise their lifestyles by imposing their own brand of morality?”
This argument had me laughing, look at who’s accusing who! The “LGBT lobby” is accused of being totalitarian, why, because they try “to get laws passed which impose LGBT beliefs on us all”. Please Peter, explain further, what laws may that be? Laws to decriminalised buggery, laws to punish discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation? How is that imposing LGBT ‘beliefs’ on others? What beliefs? The notion that privacy should be afforded to adults? That people should be protected from authorised and state sponsored discrimination? The belief of respect? And what is being imposed? Really? If buggery is decriminalised, how does that impose buggery on others? If you don’t like anal sex, simple, don’t do it. Anti-discriminatory laws would impose what? A behaviour of mutual respect? So is it that there’s a problem with requiring us treat each other with mutual respect?
It has been proposed by American psychologist and educator, Gordon Allport that prejudicial behaviour can progress, in five stages: (1) Anti-locution, comprising such things as malicious gossip, verbal putdowns and nasty jokes, the terms ‘sodomite and battyman’ comes to mind; (2) avoidance; (3) discrimination – when the object of the prejudice is excluded from certain rights; (4) physical attack; (5) extermination. Is Peter Espeut proposing that laws which are meant to protect everyone should not be introduced to protect LGBT people? Should we ignore the possibility of the development of the prejudicial stages (namely stages 4 and 5)? Should we turn a blind eye to the history of the Jewish people? Is it not said that if we forget our history we are bound to repeat it?
Totalitarianism is a political system where the state holds total authority over the society and seeks to control all aspects of public and private life whenever necessary. Thus, are LGBT people being totalitarian or attempting to be? Please, please explain how exactly are they seeking to ‘control all aspects of public and private life whenever necessary’. Indeed the definition of totalitarianism seems to suggest that as the religious continue to erode our ability to choose, they are the ones more guilty of being totalitarian.
Espeut: “Give me one example of a religion (or a society) anywhere in the world at any time in history (prior to our New Age cults) that supports gay marriage.”
Firstly, New Age cults? Really, putting down another belief system as a cult because it doesn’t fit into your religious definition, and because it’s new, be original will ya? Christianity could be considered a cult, and there are sects of Christianity which have been considered as such. Let’s cut the crap on that.
Moving on, though it is relatively recent that same-sex couples are being granted the same form of legal marital recognitions as their heterosexual counterparts, there is a long history of recorded same-sex unions around the world (see Same-sex marriage: the personal and the political). A law in the Theodosian Code was issued in 342 AD by the Christian emperors Constantius II and Constans, which prohibited same-sex marriage in ancient Rome ordered that those who were so married were to be executed, the only reason for such a law to be passed is that something existed which the authorities wanted gone.
The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, Uniterian Universalist, some diocese within the Anglican Church of Canada, Episcopal Church of the USA, Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands, Christian Catholic Church of Switzerland, Catholic Diocese of the Old Catholics in Germany, Old Catholic Church of Austria, Lutheran Church of Sweden, Danish Church in Buenos Aires, Church of Denmark, some Quaker gatherings, United Church of Christ, Mennonite Church in the Netherlands, Centers for Spiritual Living, some Hindu communities, some Muslim communities, and some Jewish communities, are all religions, and denominations that support either same-sex marriage or some form of same-sex unions, from as early as the 1980s.
Espeut: “And what about those who love their donkeys? Why not include them in the marriage? There are enough jackasses around.”
I will pass this one, it’s not worthy of a response, because it is the same ridiculous argument that –particularly- religious people use to speak against the recognition of same-sex unions. It’s not worth my time or energy to respond to.
Espeut: “Reason is the method of moving from premises to conclusions by a process of logic. Philosophers begin with ideas as their premises, and reason them to their logical conclusion. Scientists begin with observable data as their premises, and develop hypotheses or theories based on reason. Theologians begin with articles of faith as their premises, and reason them to their logical conclusion. Theology is “reason informed by faith”.”
Yes theology is indeed “reason informed by faith”. Why do I agree? Theology begins yes with an article of faith, then any reasoning which takes place must be compatible with the article(s) of faith, if the reasoning is incompatible with the faith it is either manipulated to comply or thrown away.
Within the column Espeut seems to be making the case that gay marriage is not a valid arrangement as “the family has been the context of production and reproduction” historically. Thus since lesbian and gay people are unable to reproduce together- i.e free of external assistance, eg. Surrogate mothers and sperm donors- then they cannot form a family. He also assumes that gay and lesbian people are completely unable to reproduce by stating that ‘heterosexuals would have to “provide the children for homosexuals to adopt”’. Apparently this memo missed you, but there are numerous lesbian and gay people who have had children biologically, and who are capable of having children.
Also Espeut seems to be knocking rather hard on the blessed polygynous relationships of the Old Testament, where many blessed men had multiple wives and multitudinous concubines, King David comes to mind, when he states, “Those who believe that the only composition of marriage is between one man and one woman are supporting a sustainable human institution.” But may I add that since we are talking about sustainable human institutions, we then put in the criteria that the only heterosexual couples that are allowed to legally marry are those capable of having children, you know for the promotion of a “sustainable human institution”.
Espeut: “Human rights have to do with promoting that which is human, and have their root in the human condition. ‘Gay rights’ are not human rights….”
I thought Human rights were ‘rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.’ (http://www.ohchr.org/en/issues/Pages/WhatareHumanRights.aspx)
Gay rights. What are gay rights? I didn’t realise that anti-discriminatory laws, marriage rights, rights of citizenship- privileges and burdens, rights to life, rights to privacy, rights to equal quality of life -rights which gay people are working for- were only limited to heterosexual people, but Espeut may be onto something…..
If human rights have to do with promoting that which is human, and ‘gay rights’ are not human rights, then it is safe to deduce that Peter Espeut is saying that gay people are not human.
How many fires have you now kindled Mr Espeut? If gay people are not human then they can be treated any old way. Probably herd them up and put them in confinement until they die out eh?
Today, International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Quality of Citizenship Jamaica stands in solidarity with the world to oppose the intolerance, discrimination, hate, and abuse that is meted out to the LGBT people of the world. We call on the Jamaican Government to honour its international commitments, to affirm the status of equal citizenship for all Jamaicans, to ensure the same quality of citizenship for all Jamaicans.
“OUT OF MANY ONE PEOPLE”
May 16, 2013
Same-sex relations in the Arab world have always been part of human interactions and are manifested in various literary accounts, especially poetry. Centuries ago, Arab poets used to openly flaunt their young male lovers in their works, in a similar way to Greek pederasty. This practice, however, started diminishing once scholars of the region started visiting Europe during the nineteenth century and were surprised that the Europeans were not as vocal about same-sex relationships as they were. As a result of these kinds of interactions, people of the region started to change their outlook on “homosexuality” and became less accepting of it.
That being said, the region has been immune to the Gay liberation movement that started during the second half of the twentieth century, mostly in North America and Western Europe. While countries around the world are currently busy debating the promotion of LGBT rights, including marriage equality, the LGBT community in the Arab world faces increasing discrimination and oppression.
I argue that the rampant “homophobia” experienced in the Arab world today was imported to the region from the West. Therefore, the best strategy to decriminalize homosexuality in the region might be to remind the Arabs that same-sex relations have always been part of their culture and are not as alien to their society as some may believe. Arab societies should consult their history books and literature archives to realize that tolerating same-sex relations today would be an act against imperialism and a return to the roots.
A while back, I read this book entitled, Desiring Arabs, by Joseph Massad and in which he argues that the “Gay International” is responsible for bringing debate about homosexuality to developing countries and “produc[ing] homosexuals, as well as gays and lesbians, where they do not exist” (162-63). I find his argument utterly invalid. First of all, history evidently demonstrates that people with same-sex desires have always existed in the Arab world. Secondly, international organizations do recognize that same-sex emotions and activities do not necessarily come with an identity attached. In Desiring Arabs, Massad seems more concerned with the terminology Gay or Homosexual than the real issue at hand, so he devotes his book to denounce the messengers instead of considering the message. This is not surprising, given that he was Edward Said’s student and must be suspicious of Orientalism. In this case, however, the issue is not about Orientalism and how modern or western constructs of sexual identity have been adopted in the Arab world. It is whether gay and lesbian Arabs exist. Given that the answer to this question is obvious, it is about time the rights of LGBT Arabs are protected.
PS: The photo above is Arabic for: Resisting Homophobia
Follow me or contact me on Twitter: @QueerPanther
May 16, 2013
Being Jamaican means so many things, it means I am strong, I’m bi-racial, I have great taste in music, I have great rhythm, I can bust a move on any dance floor, I have a very rich history filled with events that changed the way the Caribbean is seen today, But unfortunately being Jamaican should also mean you hate people who are gay and treat them like garbage and think i have the authority to take their lives ( that’s what they say).
Though we have a laid-back image of reggae and Rastas, sun and sand. But for gays, Jamaica is closer to hell. Homosexuals must live in constant fear of violence, the violence is feeding a gay “brain drain”, with some of the brightest Jamaicans leaving for the United States or Canada. Even if they do not care about human rights, Jamaica’s politicians and its government might spare a thought for the impact of their intolerance on a chronically stagnant economy.
May 14, 2013
TODAY IS The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT)… LETS MAKE THE WORLD HEAR IN ONE ACCORD THAT WE ARE ALL HUMAN AND DESERVE TO BE TREATED THE SAME.
The last report on State Sponsored Homophobia that the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Association (ILGA) released in 2012, confirms the total number of countries in the world with a legislation persecuting people on the basis of their sexual orientation at 78. Furthermore, according to Preliminary findings of the ILGA report on mapping the legal situation of transgender people worldwide (February 2012) “the main finding is that in the majority of countries the procedure for gender recognition for transgender individuals is unclear or does not exist. Transgender people are left to seek gender recognition through expensive court procedures or invasive medical procedures conducted often by individuals who have little knowledge about transgender people’s experiences.”
what if i don’t want to be label as what society dicate am i any lesster ogf a person that a person that accept such a label.
i am a individual that bleed the same blood as u bleed and i should be given the same right privilege and opportunities that u have. For i am no lesser of a person than u.
I have the right to be happy with who i am and what i am no matter how u may view it. So don’t judge me because u may share a different view from me. Is best u hate me for what i have done to make u hate me than hate me because of who i am. You can’t hate or beat the who i am out of me as much as i can beat the ignorance out of you.
May 14, 2013
The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) was created in 2004 to draw the attention of policy makers, opinion leaders, social movements, public opinion, the media etc. to this issue and to promote a world of tolerance, respect and freedom, diversity and acceptance regardless of people’s sexual orientation and gender identity. As much as it is a day against violence and oppression, it is a day of freedom, diversity and acceptance. The day of May 17 was chosen to commemorate the decision taken by the World Health Organization in 1990 to take homosexuality out of the list of mental disorders. The last report on State Sponsored Homophobia that the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Association (ILGA) released in 2012, confirms the total number of countries in the world with a legislation persecuting people on the basis of their sexual orientation at 78. Furthermore, according to Preliminary findings of the ILGA report on mapping the legal situation of transgender people worldwide (February 2012) “the main finding is that in the majority of countries the procedure for gender recognition for transgender individuals is unclear or does not exist. Transgender people are left to seek gender recognition through expensive court procedures or invasive medical procedures conducted often by individuals who have little knowledge about transgender people’s experiences.”
The idea behind IDAHOT is to create a global understanding for the rights to express gender freedom and to engage in same-sex relationships without one specific form of expression or even one central policy agenda. The IDAHOT is about unity in spirit and diversity in expressions.
The Day creates an opportunity for all to:
Want to get involved? Advocates for Youth is hosting a blogathon from May 15 thru the 17 on www.amplifyyourvoice.org Write a blog and tag International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia to raise awareness and build solidarity with activists around the world!
To find out more about the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, click here.
To read more about LGBT rights in the Caribbean, click here: http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/component/content/article/1762-overlooked-and-at-risk
To check out Advocate for Youth’s pamphlet series for youth, “I think I Might Be..,” click on the links below:
May 13, 2013
May 11, 2013
http://hermesreplica.judisells.com crouch tolerance uncouth handsome hermes birkin crocodile purse crave illumination takeaway date monochrome alien border anyone hermes greek god renegade resurgent hermes clic bracelet sizes language aerospace modernism disgrace enshrine starry message cola underline fetter gossip hermes belt authentic fake siege instantly personal short-circuit hermes lindy ????? cornea designer rebuke anxious mind plane
[b][url=http://hermessale.judisells.com]Hermes Handbags[/url][/b] merciful trap scotland itinerary prevent baby-sit recorder waterfall endanger hermes bags wikipedia wreath misplace digestible masterpiece wean Irish prehistoric carol divide hermes kelly purse retire reconstruct genius acronym seagull brake dislocate whale surreal hermes bracelet black and silver
[b][url=http://hermesreplica.judisells.com]Hermes Bags[/url][/b] you can get kimonos in a number of colors for instance orange, green and also schokohrrutige. A laptop pc will probably weighing typically 6 – 8 extra as you move the historic god hermes the iPad should be only 1.5 excess pounds more or less (IPad2 is only hermes resource 1.3 excess weight). that particular detained emailing me out during the glaciers information we should our own paint roller hermes orange vertisement extender getting towel packaged on the tip to remove the in the menu.
http://hermeshandbags.judisells.com altitude rule angry medication migration powder keel fumble masterpiece authority wreathe stainless pigeon starvation belong practicable education issue hermes paris caption harmonium hermes men belt price singapore Japanese hog goalkeeper broccoli scarce bashful junior hermes h belt cost
[url=http://hermesoutlet.judisells.com]herms Online[/url] the best thing is regarded as, they can fit solid and so offers offers exercise bike looking new. within, synthetic version clutches could be founded through the type of material and supreme them to offered. mugs of incorporates everyone attending would probably want using a case of it caliber. also known as a disturb aside box, these kinds of your own home from hermes solutions and products be comprised of everything in them to keep yourself and your family in existence for the period of an unexpected emergency predicament.
[b][url=http://hermesreplica.judisells.com]Hermes Outlet[/url][/b] pedlar assert how much is a birkin hermes bag shrill greet various chaplain hermes greek god symbols spy forever backbreaking the light build restful holocaust torrent witchcraft discrete coin tap bring equality hermes db kuriergep?ck service thoth hermes trismegistus hermes birkin purses prices statue ferryboat painful today rabbit cough eyeball candy don
[url=http://hermessale.judisells.com]Hermes Handbags[/url] jocular unplug Russian incendiary station save impose punish unable expensive rack scenery newspaper hermes belt online outlet headstrong authentic hermes belt ebay inquire statue authentic hermes collier chien bracelet martyr interpreter irreversible brook considerate baby-sit donation headland nucleus foreigner hermes belts for men india conservative when acupuncture meaning fibre
May 9, 2013
im part of th lgbtq community and i hope i gain friends that are to but i hope that homophobia oneday stops
May 4, 2013
May 3, 2013
Women experience violence, abuse and discrimination because they are women. The statistics and the stories are all too common to those of us who work, campaign or protest to end gender based violence, identify as feminists or just pay attention to what’s going on in the world.
The united nation declaration on elimination of violence against women defines Gender based violence (GBV) as:
“…a function of gender inequality and an abuse of male power and privilege. It takes the form of actions that result in physical, sexual and psychological harm or suffering to women and children, or affront to their human dignity, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life. It is men who predominantly carry out such violence, and women who are predominantly the victims of such violence. By referring to violence as ‘gender based’ this definition highlights the need to understand violence within the context of women’s and girl’s subordinate status in society. Such violence cannot be understood, therefore, in isolation from the norms, social structure and gender roles within the community, which greatly influence women’s vulnerability to violence.”
LGBT people experience gender based violence because their gender identities don’t fit within
the “acceptable” heterosexual, gender binary boxes that maintain and reinforce our male-centric world. Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are forms of gender based violence that are aimed at LGBT people or people who are perceived to be LGB or T because they express their gender and sexual orientation in ways that differ from what is falsely believed ’normal’ by society. We can see this when we hear stories of corrective rape committed against lesbian women, the levels of homophobia in the school. just a few examples.
While I agree that it is absolutely vital that we make visible the levels and extent of male violence against women it is also important that we connect the dots between all forms of violence and abuse that people experience that is based on gender. Including discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in discussion and work on gender based violence can only be of benefit to the overall aim of gender equality and the breaking down of narrow and restrictive gender roles that are forced on all of us. That’s why when I’m discussing these issues I use the term ‘gender based violence’ – not to minimize the extent of violence against women, but rather to ensure that everyone who experiences gender abuse is included.
May 3, 2013
Pride Fest was a big deal. I went to pride fest with my fellow Broward County Youth Council members. It was quite an experience, flags were waving and people were cheering. I want everyone to be happy and it was wonderful being in a happy environment. The pride fest took place in Ft Lauderdale and the parade coordinator told the crowd that there wasnt going to even be a pride fest this year, but all of us made it possible. It was also great bonding time with my fellow peers.
May 2, 2013
Last week, governments from around the world met at the United Nations for the 46th Commission on Population and Development (CPD). Throughout the week-long deliberations, governments, UN agencies, demographers, and NGOs debated the topic of migration and its relationship to the 1994 ICPD Programme of Action—a groundbreaking declaration which signaled a major shift in population policy from one based on population control to one based on human rights, including sexual and reproductive health (SRH).
What’s migration got to do with sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), you ask? Well, just about everything.
Today, more women are migrating than ever before, representing nearly half of the total international migrant population, and in some countries, as much as 70 to 80 percent. And young migrants under the age of 29 make up half of all global migrants. During the process of migration, women and girls tend to be more vulnerable to human rights violations, particularly SRHR violations, including violence, exploitation, and sexual coercion. Moreover, migrant women and young people are also at increased risk of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections due to inadequate access to health services, including SRH services. As a result, ensuring access to SRHR information and services and protection of women’s and young people’s rights was our number one goal at the CPD.
So, how’d we do? Well, this year’s CPD proved interesting, to say the least. Traditionally progressive countries that fight every year to advance SRHR found themselves in a bit of a pickle given their countries’ rather regressive migration policies. Against the backdrop of comprehensive immigration reform playing out on Capitol Hill, the US delegation—typically a stalwart champion of young people’s SRHR and LGBT rights—sought to include language restricting access to non-emergency services to only those migrants who are documented or in legal status. The same was true for other Global North countries like the UK, Canada, Denmark, and the EU. At the same time, conservative countries with strong religious views (think Nigeria, Egypt, Qatar, Honduras, Malta, and Poland) joined forces with the Holy See (aka, the Vatican) to denounce any inclusion of SRHR or sexual orientation and gender identity. Discussions grew more and more tense by the day, resulting in an eventual breakdown of the negotiations and a final “take it or leave it” declaration drafted by the chair of the commission.
From a youth SRHR perspective, the declaration is just so-so. Here’s my take on it.
And the Ugly:
After a groundbreaking resolution on adolescents and young people at last year’s CPD, we’ve certainly got our work cut out for us to ensure young people’s rights are front and center in the 20-year review of the ICPD in 2014 and in the post-2015 development agenda. We simply cannot afford to go backwards; we need forward progress if we are ever to see the full implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action.
Apr 30, 2013
Transgender women are the fastest growing population of the HIV-positive. The National Institutes of Health came out with a report, noting that almost a third of transgender Americans have HIV. Trans women of color specifically are at a greater risk than their white sisters. Through a survey, it was found that 56% of black trans women have HIV. The 2009 study from NIH also noted that many transgender women may not even know their HIV status. With an alarming statistic like this, we have to wonder what’s causing it.
When individuals are thrown into social injustice, it can be difficult to escape from. Trans women are profiled and disproportionately targeted and arrested by the law enforcement. The police will try to use condoms as evidence of sex work, so trans women face the “choice” of keeping themselves and their partners safe or getting arrested. When they’re forced into jail, trans women are often housed with male inmates or they are put into solitary confinement, as if either path is any better. Sex workers are generally more likely to be HIV-positive than those who are not engaged in sex work, but because of the disproportionate targeting of trans women, trans women sex workers’ risk for HIV is four times greater.
While sex work is a valid way of meeting financial needs, some trans women turn to it as an option because of discrimination in employment. In most of the United States, it’s completely legal to turn down or dismiss a person based on gender identity and sexual orientation. People can even be denied housing or become evicted because of their gender identity and orientation. This leaves a dangerously negative and significant impact on their economic well-being and safety. It also makes it difficult for trans women especially to keep up with their hormonal therapy, since it’s often not covered by insurance, if they can even pay for that insurance with what the circumstances are. With lack of access to basic health care, many incompetent doctors, clinics, social stigma, and overall institutions that discriminate against trans women, especially those of color– it’s all a very nasty formula expressing why trans women are hit so hard with HIV.
So, what can we do to help? Trans people are often absent from public campaigns for sexual health and safety. We can start by including them into that, and into many of our discussions and campaigns of social justice as well. We could get trans-specific in our literature in safer sex guides. We could also set up community centers as a safe space for trans people and create some peer groups, which would be strong social networks and a good use of peer outreach for safer sex and HIV testing. And of course we could and should create social support and do our part to de-stigmatize our trans brothers and sisters. Look up a local or national activist organization today.
Apr 27, 2013
Tennessee state lawmakers decided to pass a resolution this week. Before I tell you what the resolution was, let me give you a quick background on how Tennesee deals with its social issues. The bills that have been introduced in this state include: school prayer, fines on students who have saggy jeans, public displays of Christianity’s Ten Commandments, public access to the names of doctors who provide abortions, and the most “popular” is the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill which would prevent teachers from ever discussing homosexuality. Tennessee has also pushed the education system to teach the “controversies” of evolution and climate change. This state has also made an attempt to deal with its high teen pregnancy rates by restricting discussion in sex education, in fear that a truly comprehensive lesson might be arousing to the teens.
The latest endeavor has the state of Tennessee set to celebrate “Traditional Marriage Day” on August 31st, after passing a resolution to dedicate such an observation on the date. Gay rights activists are pushing against this measure. They declared that August 31st should be called “Tennessee Marriage Equality Day” instead. Chris Sanders of the Tennessee Equality Project suggested that these two different advocate groups have similar goals. He was quoted saying, “We’re not opposed to traditional marriages, but we believe traditional marriage is for everyone.”
Now in the “Traditional Marriage Day”’s defense, advocates for the measure claim that the day is merely about pointing out the economic benefits of getting married, hoping that more couples would be encouraged in doing so. It surely has nothing to do with stigmatizing and railing against marriage equality. No, of course not. Yet the official written resolution itself quotes the Christian Bible and in a clear statement says that marriage is to be “expressed only between a man and a wife.”
This is strange. If “Traditional Marriage Day” was simply about encouraging couples to get married and enjoy economic benefits, then why should same-sex couples be prohibited from doing the same? And isn’t every day pretty much Traditional Marriage Day then? I mean, especially in Tennessee where a state constitutional amendment was passed in 2006, banning marriage equality. This measure was supported by 81% of voters and since then, Tennessee has seen little progress on this issue. But activists are still fighting.
Apr 27, 2013
Apr 24, 2013
Transgender Woman Arrested for Exposing Breasts, Jailed With Men
Trigger warning: transphobia
A transgender woman from New York was arrested in Savannah, Ga., last week for allegedly exposing her breasts, reports Savannah’s WSAV. But when deputies booked Ashley Del Valle, 38, she says a nurse examined her genitals, and determined that she was “technically a male.” As a result, Del Valle was placed in a holding cell in the men’s prison ward.
Apr 24, 2013
“I also came to realize that the focus on personhood ignores the fact that a zygote, embryo, or fetus is growing inside of another person’s body.”
|—||Libby Anne, “How I Lost Faith in the ‘Pro-Life’ Movement”|
This is really important to consider. You absolutely can advocate for a zygote, embryo, or fetus. But understand that in doing so, it subsequently infringes on the rights of the person this being resides in.
Giving a fetus personhood is not equality. No one currently has the special right of using another’s person body without constant consent.
Apr 22, 2013
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights have filed a lawsuit to block an Arkansas law banning abortion care after 12 weeks from going into effect.
Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe had vetoed the extreme measure in March, citing concerns that it violated Roe v. Wade and that subsequent legal challenges would prove “very costly to the taxpayers of our state” as the “costs and fees [of defending an unconstitutional law] can be significant.” The Legislature overrode Beebe’s veto in March.
The suit seeks a preliminary injunction against the law, which is set to take effect in July.
“This law is one of the most dangerous assaults on women’s health that we’ve seen in decades,” said Rita Sklar, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas. “We may not all agree about abortion, but we can all agree that this complex and personal decision should be made by a woman, her family, and her doctor, not politicians.”
And not just women, of course. Everyone is entitled to reproductive/sexual healthcare and rights.
Apr 20, 2013
Restrictions Will Force 40-
Year-Old Abortion Clinic To
Close This Weekend
Last week, Virginia’s Board of Health voted to finalizeunnecessary regulations that will force many of the state’s abortion clinics to shut down. Those new restrictions — which are known as the Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or TRAP laws — are already having their intended effect. Hillcrest Clinic, which opened to the public just nine months after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion services, will be closing its doors this weekend.
Apr 19, 2013
As advocates for young people’s sexual health and rights, many may not think of us as having a stake in the immigration reform game. But in fact, it’s quite the opposite. The health and wellbeing of young people both within and outside our borders, regardless of immigration paperwork, is of the utmost importance to our organization. While we may not take a stand on every issue in immigration reform, there are a few that rise to the top—some of which were included in the Senate’s Gang of Eight bill, and others which were left out.
In 2010, Advocates for Youth stood strong with DREAMers (undocumented youth) across the country and had our hearts broken when the Senate voted down the DREAM Act, which would have given young people who arrived in the United States as children a pathway to citizenship. In the current bill, DREAMers who arrive to the United States before the age of 16 and who have completed high school in the United States can apply for a Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status and move more quickly through the process to become citizens. There is also no age cap to this provision.
Currently, those who apply for asylum in the United States have one year to do so. The current bill would lift that extremely short deadline which would help reduce the burden of those needing asylum in the United States, many of whom identify as LGBT and are coming from countries that persecute these communities.
Many of our families have had members who were deported for low-level offenses, simply because they were without papers. As a result, they are barred from re-entering the United States for extended periods of time, even if they have children here who are citizens. The current bill gives those who have been deported with family still in the United States the ability to apply for RPI status.
Too often individuals, and especially those who identify as LGBT, have been abused in immigration facilities. This bill would provide training and resources on appropriate use of force, individual rights, and cultural sensitivity.
Because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), same-sex couples do not receive the same benefits of heterosexual couples when it comes to sponsoring a spouse from another country. The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) would have resolved this situation, but unfortunately it was left out of the bill.
For those that gain RPI status, they will not have access to public benefits like Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program or food stamps. For the 11 million undocumented people who now will have a pathway to citizenship (yay), that 13-year process could mean no access to healthcare during that time (extra boo). We’ve already had long discussions around the Affordable Care Act about what it means to go without healthcare (from awful health outcomes to additional costs being placed on hospitals), and especially those who would be given RPI status should be able to access the healthcare they need to lead healthy lives.
There is a lot more good and a lot more bad, but these are the issues we’ll be watching closely.
Apr 19, 2013
Around the nation, thousands of young people participate in the National Day of Silence, a day of action in which students across the country vow to take a form of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of bullying and harassment on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students.
On Thursday, April 19, the Student Non-Discrimination Act was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO), Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and over 100 Members of Congress. The bi-partisan Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) prohibits discrimination against students based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. It also ensures that all students have access to an education in a safe environment free from harassment, bullying, intimidation, or violence.
LGBT youth need a safe school environment to succeed – and they have the right to go to school without being afraid. Stand with LGBT students and their allies on the National Day of Silence.
Apr 19, 2013
“I have been a part of the National Day of Silence since my senior year in high school back in 2009. Many questioned my decision. Why be silent? How is that proactive? How does that work towards any sort of social justice?
My response was and is that my silence is an act of respect for those who have suffered in the course of this civil rights movement and all those past.
DoS is a means for me to reflect on my own actions and activism, to recognize my own privileges, abilities, and relative freedom and to say and do what I feel is right without great fear of consequence. I identify as a gay cisgender male, but my environment has been mostly liberal and open-minded…whereas many of those I fight for are not.
Furthermore, as a charismatic and extroverted individual, my silence is noted by my peers and my teachers. My silence becomes a void within everyday conversation, an airhorn of silence blasting the call for social justice.
Note that I do not think the Day of Silence should be the endgame. It may be a starting point for someone. It may be a sign of solidarity for a subaltern community. It may be a wake-up call on just how large and diverse that community and its supporters may be…but it only a day.
DoS should be followed by bullhorns and trumpets and the roar of the lion, the howl of the wolf, and the thunderous cry of the dragon. Groups like GLSEN, GLAAD, NGLTF and all the other acronyms understand this and offer platforms for advocacy and activism. Yet i think the Day of Silence’s most important function is to solidify within one’s self a commitment to the movement and a drive to right the wrongs of the world as we see them. The platforms will always be there, but we must first understand and believe in what we want as an individual, as a community, and as a movement.
I believe the Day of Silence is an integral part of the LGBTQ Movement and a means of such introspection. As such, I support Nickie Antonio’s Day of Silence Resolution and I urge you to do the same.”
Apr 15, 2013
About a month ago I had the opportunity to lobby with Equality Texas on behalf of LGBT youth concerning the Romeo and Juliet bill. As I wrote earlier, the experience was eye opening for me. Now I am happy to report that the bill has moved forward!
The feeling that comes with physically knocking on a representative’s door and feeling that it made a difference is awesome. I think I have made the leap from letter writer to lobbyist for sure.
Apr 12, 2013
Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Netherlands on Monday to promote the growing economic ties between the two countries. Apparently, the Netherlands has replaced Germany as Russia’s #1 trading partner in Europe, and the second largest globally after China.
In response to Russia’s pending anti-gay legislation which would make public events and dissemination of information about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to minors punishable by fines of up to $16,000, the city of Amsterdam put rainbow flags up all over the city. The city also put up some pretty funny posters and tape cordoning off areas where I guess Putin would be.
Oh, the sass!
Apr 10, 2013
Only 23% of sexually active teens have been tested for HIV. Are you one of them? Find free or low-cost clinics near you!
Apr 6, 2013
A new bill is sitting in front of Alabama lawmakers that would strike this inaccurate, hateful language from the law. But there are only a few weeks before the session ends. If they don\’t feel the pressure from the public and the media, we won\’t have another chance before 2014.
Apr 3, 2013
UPDATE: VICTORY! Last week, James and other activists in Texas met with their policy makers to protest the Zedler 1 anti-gay amendment, including delivering your signatures in person to Texas’ legislature. And on Thursday 4/4, the amendment was withdrawn. We got them off our backpacks and funding for the centers is safe. Great job!
This is a featured post from Texas Freedom Network Student Chapter President James Lee!
My name is James Lee and growing up in Rio Grande Valley Texas, I was taught that being gay was wrong. I believed something was wrong with me because I was gay. It wasn’t until I stepped into my college resource center and found other students like me that I finally found peace with myself. The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Resource Center at the University of Houston changed my life.
Now one Texas Representative wants to take that center away, and all of the other LGBT resource centers that help thousands of young people each year at Texas’ universities. Sign a petition to help protect LGBT resource centers in Texas!
Texas Representative Bill Zedler introduced an Amendment to eliminate state funding for LGBT Resource Centers like the one that created a safe space for me and my friends to come out. The Zedler 1 Amendment would not only remove state funding for LGBT Resource Centers but would also eliminate state funding for Women’s Centers and ALL Gender & Sexuality Centers at Texas universities.
In the week leading up to National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day, and in an effort to build an AIDS free generation we must continue to support LGBT Center and Women’s Centers that provide critical health services. I am asking all students, youth, alumni, and concerned citizens to contact the state legislators to vote no on the Zedler 1 amendment. Tell Texas legislators to stop harming students and get off our backpacks!
Apr 1, 2013
Mar 30, 2013
So far, our Gay/Straight Alliance is going well. We have a core group of students that attend every meeting and are very involved. However, there have been some misconceptions lately about what we stand for. They think that we are a group of gay people who talk about being gay. We have planned some events to gain some attention, including a bake sale, a button day, and participating in the day of silence.
Mar 27, 2013
Why I Support Same Sex Marriage as a Civil Right, But Not as a Strategy to Achieve Structural Change
“The fundamentally conservative nature of the marriage contract is why, I think, younger conservatives are growing more supportive of same sex marriage. Extending marriage rights to LGBT people does little or nothing to address the structure of oppressive family laws and values in society. It also does very little to change the core of the conservative agenda which is, fundamentally, about power and control. This is evidenced by the fact that young conservatives are increasingly supportive of same-sex marriage at the same time that they continue to be champions of austerity who are deeply opposed to public funding of critical safety net programs. And many are terrible on issues of race, equating black and brown people with destructively out-of-control sexuality, crime, and government debt. So their attitudes about LGBT people may have changed, but their worldviews remain pretty much the same. They’ve just let monogamous same sex couples off the hook for certain societal problems, which is essentially what they’ve been doing all along for heterosexuals who marry.
What appears to be leading to this “success” with young conservatives points to another of my concerns. By presenting LGB (I’ll leave off the “t” here) people as basically conservative in our demands, the most mainstream faction within the LGB movement is subtly positioning us as a model minority. And it’s working. Where once attacks against LGB people relied heavily on messaging that mirrored prejudices historically used against people of color (morally debased sexual predators and criminals seeking anti-American special rights), LGB people are increasingly understood to be all-American and fundamentally non-threatening. The sales job basically seems to revolve around the idea that if you let us in, nothing really changes. And, based on the demands at the center of this agenda, this is, to a degree, true.
Also troubling is my sense that the current strategies ignore something about marriage rights that ought to be obvious to anyone excluded from them, especially when that group is arguing that being excluded has real, material consequences. That is, that we are arguing to be able to use marriage as a shield against wrongs that no one, regardless of sexual orientation or marital status, should suffer. No loved one should be excluded from survivors benefits and pensions, end of life decision-making, hospital visitation, and the many other family rights reserved for married couples. And when we argue that being able to wield this shield is a right we deserve because we conform with the values of good people, that shield can become a weapon against those who are still excluded.”
Scot Nakagawa, “Why I Support Same Sex Marriage as a Civil Right, But Not as a Strategy to Achieve Structural Change,” ChangeLab 3/25/13
Mar 27, 2013
As a daughter of the South, I’ve been party to the celebration of state’s rights for most of my life.
I have been informed that America is special because it allows the micro-governments in each state to shape its own laws and regulations to best fit the people residing in their area. Every state is different, and therefore they require slightly different legal environments.
But I was under the impression that we decided a long time ago, equality is universal.
So excuse me if I’m a little incredulous at the claim of “state’s rights” when it comes to equal marriage. Excuse me if I draw the line of “adaptable legal environments” at denying my fellow compatriots the ability to engage in the rights promised to them by our constitution. Once, my peoples rights were denied on the basis of states rights and we had to fight then as well. We cannot just wait for every state to decide that their citizens deserve equal treatment. We must force them to recognize it legally and then pressure them to recognize it culturally. We must demand equality.
To those who protest that states are on their way to recognizing equal marriage anyway, then why is it a big deal? They would just have a Supreme Court ruling to back them up.
To those who protest that marriage is a institution meant for only a man and a woman, just…go sit in a corner.
Marriage is an institution of commitment. It is an institution of dedication. It is a institution that supports a stable family and devoted lovers. It is an institution that promotes unity and felicity. It is a way to pursue happiness.
I argue that the constitution we all love so dearly DEMANDS we grant every citizen the right to marry the person they love.
I argue that those who tote state’s rights as a reason DOMA should be upheld do not understand the meaning of the notion.
Newsflash: We are the state. We are the country. State’s rights are the rights of the people.
Mar 26, 2013
Quick comment RE: some of the upsetting posts I’ve been coming across today on various social media platforms
I get it. I TOTALLY get it. Marriage is an outdated institution. Allowing same sex marriage will not directly lead to equal rights for all. And the list goes on. But this is absolutely NOT the right time for anyone who believes in human rights (especially fellow LGBT members) to throw stones on our path to become more equal citizens. As the saying goes, “If you don’t have something nice to say…”
Mar 26, 2013
This is a HUGE week for the LGBT community in the US. Rulings on California’s Proposition 8 and DOMA (Defense Of Marriage Act) will have massive implications for same-sex couples nationwide.
Tuesday, March 26, the Supreme Court will decide whether California’s Proposition 8 violates the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause that “no state shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Wednesday, March 27, United States v. Windsor will challenge the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which states that marriage must be between a man and a woman. The Supreme Court will hear from Edith ”Edie” Windsor, who has been forced to pay $363,053 in estate taxes after her partner of more than 40 years, Thea Spyer, passed away. Windsor would not have had to pay this amount had she been married to a man.
Recent polling shows that 58% of the American population now support gay marriage. The Supreme Court justices are definitely aware of changing public opinion on this issue, but this does not mean they have to vote in one way or another. Will they stand on the right side of history? We shall wait, cross our fingers, and see.
Mar 25, 2013
This month I lobbied the Texas Legislature on behalf of LGBT Youth with Equality Texas.
After I had finished speaking with my Houston area legislators I decided I had to speak with representatives from the Rio Grand Valley, as a former constituent. When deciding whose office to visit first, one representative stood out to me, Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinajosa. Earlier this year, Senator Hinajosa filed a bill in favor of civil unions for lesbian and gay couples in Texas –this was a huge deal! When the Senator’s office had released a statement concerning the matter local opponents of equality began slinging mud at the senator, questioning his sexuality and sanity.
As I walked to his office I wasn’t sure what to expect. When we arrived we learned the Senator was not in his office so we spoke with a member of his staff. After a short while we headed back to the Senate Gallery and to my surprise, as I reached for the door, Senator Hinajosa walked through. “Senator Hinajosa!” I said. He looked at me for a second wondering if he knew me. I shook his heavy hands, introduced myself and my team and explained how we had just left his office. After a few words I suddenly began to feel so overwhelmed. The tall man who stood before me had made a bold move when he filed his bill for same sex civil unions, and it meant a lot to me.
To me, Senator Hinajosa’s support of civil unions made him a hero. He wasn’t from some other place, he wasn’t from some other background, he was a Mexican-American man like me, from the Rio Grand Valley. In my eyes he was what all the other men in my life hadn’t been, supportive.
After a few words I told the senator, “I stopped by your office today to lobby for a bill that’s been filed in the senate, but I have to talk to you about something else right now.” I thanked the senator for his support of civil unions and told him how bold I thought it was for him to have filed his legislation. Suddenly I started choking up, my eyes became watery, I told him “I’m from the Valley, and I know what the attitudes can be toward LGBT people there” and just when I thought he couldn’t get any cooler he replied, “Some people just need to grow up and get educated.”
At that second I could hardly contain myself. I shook the senator’s hand and thanked him again as I fought back tears. As I walked through the Senate Gallery I couldn’t help but fall into one of the chairs and start crying. I realized in that moment how much things have changed, both in my own life and in our state.
If you had told me when I was a kid that a straight man, from my part of the state, would file legislation urging other lawmakers to move toward the equality of lesbian and gay Texans, I would have thought you were playing a cruel joke. When I heard the news that an RGV Senator had filed that legislation I felt a sense of vindication for all the wrong doing that had been done to me when I was a kid.
As I wept in the Senate Gallery and thought of the progress that had been made I felt even stronger about my future, and the future of Texas. We have a long way to go, but we will get there. With the help of allies like Senator Hinajosa and young people like me, we will get there.
James Lee is the Houston Area Outreach Intern for the Texas Freedom Network and works with the Texas Student Leadership Council, part of Advocates for Youth’s Cultural Advocacy and Mobilization Initiative.
Mar 23, 2013
If you haven’t heard already, the law makers in North Dakota are pushing for another anti-choice bill. This time it’s an abortion ban on the basis of personhood. If passed, this would effectively give fertilized eggs all the rights of U.S. citizens. And it would cut off abortion care completely. Beyond abortion this bill would also charge doctors who damage embryos in any way with criminal negligence. It also prevents doctors from being able to perform in vitro fertilizations. Now you might be thinking an unconstitutional bill like this couldn’t possibly get passed by Senate or the House, but it did. Shockingly, it passed the House by a vote of 57-35 and it’s currently making its way to the Governor’s desk.
The state’s recent six-week abortion ban is already in direct violation of Roe v. Wade and will bring about several legal costs for taxpayers when challenged. This next measure of a total abortion ban will surely cause North Dakota to face the same results, costing the state more than they bargained for. And how will they pay for these litigations?
During a recent debate between Senator Margaret Sitte and Dr. Kristen Cain about the abortion restrictions and pending abortion ban, Senator Sitte accidentally lets something slip. When asked if these bills will cost taxpayers possibly millions, Senator Sitte unintentionally admits that there are outside interests behind the unconstitutional abortion bans who are willing to spend those millions to make sure people in North Dakota will not have access to reproductive healthcare and rights. Watch as Senator Sitte tries to lie her way out of it.
This abortion ban won’t be a law until Governor Jack Darlymple of North Dakota signs it, and it’s unclear if he will or won’t.
To contact Governor Jack Darlymple:
Office of Governor
State of North Dakota
600 East Boulevard Avenue
Bismarck, ND 58505-0100
Mar 22, 2013
Two personhood bills — Senate Bill 2303 and Senate Concurrent Resolution 4009 — have already passed the Senate, and the GOP-controlled House is expected to take them upsometime this week. But if North Dakota successfully enacts a total abortion ban, there will be serious consequences for the state that extend even beyond women’s reproductive freedom. Here are five ways the state will suffer under personhood:
1. There will be fewer doctors in the state available to provide medical care. In a historic move for the North Dakota Medical Association, the nonpartisan organization has come out againstpersonhood. The group points out that the anti-abortion measures go too far to “interfere with the physician practice,” and they suspect it will be harder to find qualified medical professionals willing to practice in North Dakota if the state imposes so many complicated restrictions on doctors. Some doctors have already testified before state lawmakersto say they will leave North Dakota if the abortion bans pass.
2. Maternal health care will be compromised. Doctors could becharged with criminal negligence if anything happens to an embryo — which could prevent them from making quick decisions that could help save women’s lives. The tragic case of Savita Halappanavar, a woman who died after being denied an abortion in a Catholic hospital because her doctors were reluctant to provide care that could get them in trouble with the law, highlights the serious consequences of state lawmakers coming between a woman and her doctor.
3. Women could be forced to resort to illegal abortion procedures.Under a personhood law, women will end up resorting to dangerous “backroom” abortions, one former pediatrician warned North Dakota lawmakers last week. That Fargo-area doctor did his medical training before Roe v. Wade, when women were dying of bacterial infections after botched abortion procedures — and he warns that the passage of the proposed personhood measures would pull North Dakota back into “the stone age of medicine.” There’s evidence to back up that claim. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the legality of abortion hasabsolutely no correlation to abortion rates around the world, because women will continue to seek to terminate pregnancies regardless of the law.
4. Women won’t be able to use in vitro fertilization to try to have a family. Ironically, in addition to compromising medical procedures for the women seeking to terminate a pregnancy, personhood measures also place restrictions on the women who are trying to get pregnant. “These bills will stop the practice of in vitro fertilization in this state,” Dr. Stephanie Dahl, an obstetrician-gynecologist and reproductive medicine specialist in Fargo, explained to lawmakers. Doctors wouldn’t be able to perform any procedure that carries the risk of damaging some embryos, so women would be forced to travel to South Dakota or Minnesota for in vitro treatment, a six-week process that requires multiple sonograms and up to 12 visits to the doctor.
5. The state will become embroiled in expensive lawsuits. North Dakota’s six-week abortion ban already runs afoul of Roe v. Wade, and will certainly invite several costly legal challenges. A total abortion ban would lead to similar consequences. Two personhood bills were recentlystruck down in Oklahoma, suggesting that the courts won’t take kindly to North Dakota’s push to restrict women’s constitutional rights, either. Nevertheless, even the self-proclaimed “fiscally conservative” Republicans in the state are willing to defend their abortion bans on the state’s dime.
Mar 20, 2013
— Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas and Kierra Johnson, Beyond Choice: How We Learned to Stop Labeling and Love Reproductive Justice
Mar 18, 2013
These days, we’re hearing a lot about conservatives and Republicans dropping their opposition to marriage equality and making a shift towards supporting LGBTQ rights (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning). The latest is Republican Senator Rob Portman, who after learning that his son is gay two years ago, has announced his support for marriage equality. While this is great news, my question is whether or not this is a small contingent of forward-thinking people or the tip of a much larger iceberg. The evidence is beginning to point to the latter.
Like many of you, I have attended a lot of political conferences. They’re kind of like microcosms of our larger movement. Which panels and breakout sessions are most well-attended sheds light on people’s interest – and lack of interest – in certain topics. I would assume this is also similar of the Conservative Political Action Convention (CPAC) which took place this past week. At the conference, there were two panels on LGBTQ issues. One, hosted by the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and another by GOProud, a Republican group in support of LGBTQ equality. The picture speaks for itself, but basically, the NOM panel was speaking to an empty room while the GOProud panel had a packed house with standing room only. Staff from NOM complained that, “We are treated as if we are bigots,” for their staunch opposition to LGBTQ rights. It’s a difficult to find sympathy for them when they are advocating that millions of Americans be treated as second class citizens with lesser rights.
Public opinion polls have long shown that more and more people are in support of marriage equality, especially young people. Some people say the cultural debate is over – now it will just take time, and a monumental amount of effort on our part, for our laws to catch up. More and more it is looking like some on the right agree.
Garrett Mize is the Youth Advocacy Coordinator at the Texas Freedom Network. He manages TFN’s Cultural Advocacy Mobilization Initiative, a project in partnership with Advocates for Youth. Garrett lives in Austin, Texas.
Mar 15, 2013
BREAKING: North Dakota legislature passes nation’s most restrictive abortion law, bans all abortions after 6 weeks
Mar 14, 2013
The ‘Harlem Shake’ phenomenon seems to be the new ‘Gangnam Style’. Everyone and their Gran is making one. We’ve seen the college versions, office versions, and others. Everyone tries to make theirs a little more creative. So far my favorites are the ‘Slender Shake’ and the DramaFever version. But I digress.
You know when everyone’s carrying on and having fun then someone comes and ruins it all? Y’know, the party pooper. We have a ‘Harlem Shake’ party pooper. The shake, albeit completely different from the original hip-hop version, has been about camaraderie and the jollies. Friends and co-workers gather to make a 30-second video which starts off with one person in the group dancing and is followed by a complete change in the atmosphere – usually costumed dance frenzies. Love March Movement, a Jamaican group “…of Christians who will fast and pray and speak out publicly about things concerning the kingdom of God…”, has taken it to a whole new level of sad wet blanketry. They posted their own version of the shake, during which they held up signs advocating the retention of the “Buggery Law”.
Now I’m no stranger to homophobia, and even though the bigotry enrages me, it’s even worse when there are claims of possible damage. Here are their reasons for upholding the anti-homosexuality law.
The Buggery Law is important for protecting our country from several undesirable outcomes:
1. The Buggery Law guides the educational institutions of our nation. It is the law preventing children of all ages from being taught that homosexuality is normal behaviour; this being a serious concern especially for parents that disagree. In nations like Canada such classes are mandatory and parents have been told that they cannot remove their children from them.
2. It naturally follows that eventually, just like how we have Inter-School’s Christian Fellowship (ISCF) in high schools, that we would possibe have a Lesbian-Gay-Bisexua-Transgender-Fellowship in the schools.
3. Pedophilia – is a concern because scientists have presented to the government in Canada that pedophilia is just another sexual orientation. The train of thought is that just as the homosexuals have argued saying “I can’t control my feelings for.. men.. it is natural”… in the same way Pedophile have the same “natural attractions”.
4. Zoophilia – this is where one expresses sexual desire for animals. The law serves to declare to society what behaviour is acceptable. The buggery law also criminalizes anal sex between a man and an animal. Repealing it would actually be saying that this behviour is acceptable. Additionally, in the States there has been a legal defense for a man that has had sex with his donkey, again on the basis that ““I can’t control my feelings for.. my donkey.. it is natural”. This is the reality of the world we live in.
5. Loss of Freedom of Speech – In Canada Dr. Kris Kepling was sued for writing to the newspaper saying that he doesn’t think that homosexual material should be included in schools. He was fined Canadian $10,000. Even more recently, a pro-family activist has been charged for hate speech, because he was distributing a flyer that spoke vehemently about homosexuality. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that where the act (anal sex), was characteristic of the group (homosexuals) then speaking against the behaviour is equivalent to speaking against the vulnerable group. He was ordered to pay court fees and a gay couple who were offended. This is the serious breakdown of democracy that is taking place at the hands of the homosexual agenda world-wide.
6. Loss of Freedom of Religion – In England, Lilian Lydale, a Christian marriage officer was fired because she refused to marry a gay couple, on the basis of her religious beliefs. She even offered to have a co-worker fill the shift for her, but she was turned down. The court ruled that she did not have that right to decline the clients,a nd that she should lose her job.
7. Gay Marriage – This would cause serious damage to the family structure and is of serious concern. Though down the line, we can see easily that this is on the road of the repeal of the Buggery Law. Gays in France understand how destructive this is, and have their own campaign against gay marriage.
All in all, we are protecting the nation from death and destruction, the fruits of the secularist, homosexual agenda. [sic]
This is a clear example of the ways in which hate infiltrates every aspect of our lives. For how long will our actions and thoughts continue to be fueled by fear, ignorance and rejection of “westernization”. While the acknowledgement of pedophilia as a sexual orientation is a bit much, it’s unfair to insinuate that same-sex relationships are the wellspring of all sexual behavior that is deemed immoral. It’s all fine as long as they don’t take away the guns and 21 ounce sodas right?
Mar 9, 2013
Tom Palmer (Dr.) as known to many young libertarians represents an iconic figure of the ideal libertarian mentor. From tireless trips around the world in the advocacy of the ideals of freedom to a charismatic personality with a complementing mixture of academic, passion and humorous inferences, a meeting with someone in the frame of Tom Palmer presents a potent renewal and belief in the future of liberty.
In a recent talk marking the beginning of the second day in the ongoing European Students For Liberty Conference being held in Leuven, Belgium, the ever amiable Tom Palmer was not only in his eloquent best as usual, but worth remembering for many years to come is the spirited commendation and charge the talk presents to young advocates of the ideas of human freedom and justice.
From the talk under the title, “Why We Fight For Liberty, Peace and Justice”, Tom Palmer devoted the early part of his talk demystifying certain myths about the inferred dependence on the state and its welfare system, and outlining the diverse cultural definition and application of freedom and being liberal, saying “every culture has a narrative of liberty and a narrative of power.” He allays the importance of individuals taking charge of their life as a lifelong individual responsibility and the complexity obtained in governance which could potentially be made easier by enacting simple rules for the increasingly complex world.
Itemizing the key elements to freedom vis-à-vis voluntary social coordination, the rule of law to protect and preserve Individual rights, spontaneous order, and a limited government … Tom Palmer reiterates the importance of the rule of law in the society as necessary for the security of rights and freedom, and also protects individuals from the arbitrary commands of other people.
Citing the words Cicero, Dr. Palmer reckons with the law of nature as forbidding of acts of violence against another person, while also calling for a limited and responsible government by echoing the words Lao Tse which reveals that the more laws and edicts proclaimed, the more thieves and bandits there will be in the society and the poorer the people will be.
Still reflecting on the ideal role of government in society as against its current overbearing influence and misguided policies, Tom Palmer reviews the relationship between property and rights according to liberal value, and the relationship between Law and liberty, maintaining that you need law to have a market economy, and also echoing the words of John Locke that “where there is no Law, there is no freedom.”
On Bastiat’s popular essay on “The Seen and the Unseen”, he reitrates on the importance of what is unseen but must be foreseen when making policies that relate to individuals and their economic wellbeing, while he also took a reference to Hayek’s “Limitations of Knowledge” where he echoed the necessity of individuals being given the freedom to take charge of their lives as no one is given an absolute knowledge to manage someone else’s life. He summarized the role of government a saying “Do Nothing” or “Inactive Activity”, requiring of the government to create the frame work (for people to live their independent lives as they deem fit) and step back.
Speaking of both researched and obvious statistics regarding the interrelation between economically free countries and their non- economically free counterparts, he maintains that countries which adopt policies of economic freedom consequently becomes rich, citing the host country, Belgium’s rise to prosperity through the spate of a century, as enhanced by the Great Fact period of the 1800’s when people started acting differently and responsibly, notably by respecting the rights of others to their freedom.
Economically freer countries are richer, have more civil liberties and political rights and are also less corrupt, maintained Dr. Palmer, concluding that when the state has fewer opportunities to deny you freedom, it has fewer opportunities to demand money from you.
Rounding off his talk, he encouraged the audience to educate themselves in the love of the liberty of others as only then can they truly appreciate their own liberties. He states that the fight for liberty is a lifetime project, and charges students to take up the ideological challenge of providing logical alternatives to young people especially in regions where economic and civil liberties are being repressed.
He however concluded, in commendation of the excellent efforts of the international network of Students For Liberty, stating in his own words… “I know that where there is tyranny, injustice and war, Students For Liberty will be there.”
The lecture fully lived to its billing, reflecting from a tweet from a participant at the start of the lecture (@DavyDirix Every lecture of Tom Palmer is a moment of instant happiness) and likewise, strongly provided a truly reflective point for participants to rise even higher and stronger in the fight for human liberty, peace and justice.
Tom G. Palmer is a Senior Fellow at the CATO Institute and Vice President for International Programs at the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, Washington DC
This article by the same author (Fiyinfoluwa Elegbede) was originally published by The Libertarian, a UK Based Libertarian Magazine under the title “Expanding the Discussion For A Logical Alternative: Libertarian Students Commended, Charged
Mar 4, 2013
Refusing to learn how to pronounce Quvenzhané’s name says, pointedly, you are not worth the effort. The problem is not that she has an unpronounceable name, because she doesn’t. The problem is that white Hollywood, from Ryan Seacrest and his homies to the AP reporter who decided to call her “Annie” rather than her real name, doesn’t deem her as important as, say, Renee Zellweger, or Zach Galifianakis, or Arnold Schwarzenegger, all of whom have names that are difficult to pronounce–but they manage. The message sent is this: you, young, black, female child, are not worth the time and energy it will take me to learn to spell and pronounce your name. You will be who and what I want you to be; you be be who and what makes me more comfortable. I will allow you to exist and acknowledge that existence, but only on my terms.
“After being a part of The Real L Word, I learned of many other young LGBTQ people of color who were also in need of LGBTQ role models, a role I certainly couldn’t take on alone. So I wanted to create BlackOUT as a space were LGBTQ individuals can see themselves, people like them, experiences like theirs.”
“…But would it really be horror, Shayla? It’s 2013 in allegedly post racial America. Your president is Black for crying out loud. Wouldn’t that word just roll right off your back?
Quite the contrary. All that is precisely the reason why it doesn’t. A complete stranger has the ability to come along and remind you that, still, after all this time and all the progress you think you’ve made, people still hate you just because your skin is brown. And in an instance, with little more effort than it takes to breathe, can reduce you to absolutely nothing…”
No, really. It did.
Colleen Clark is an Illustrator and she made this awesome comic about body image. It’s short but it highlights the frustrating scale by which a person’s worth is measured. You’ve gotta be something, but not too much.
Mar 3, 2013
SEE COMPLETE IMAGE:
Mar 3, 2013
Mar 1, 2013
It passed with votes of 286 to 138.
The NY Times describes the legislation:
The newly passed legislation creates and expands federal programs to assist local communities with law enforcement and aiding victims of domestic and sexual abuse. Most notably, the bill goes further by offering protections for gay, bisexual or transgender victims of domestic abuse, as well as allowing American Indian women who are assaulted on reservations by non-Indians to take their case to tribal courts, which otherwise would not have jurisdiction over assailants who do not live on tribal land.
And who are the 138 representatives who voted against this?
Here’s the name and shame:
Feb 28, 2013
Finally, I am crying tears of joy today, the House of Representatives, which has stalled in passing a version of the Violence Against Women Act that was inclusive of the LGBT community, finally passed the more inclusive Senate version.
Thursday’s votes reflected an emerging political reality in the GOP-led House, with a minority of Republicans joining Democrats to pass legislation supported by the public, including increasingly influential demographics such as Hispanic Americans.
By a vote of 166-257, the GOP version of the Violence Against Women Act failed to win a majority after almost 90 minutes of debate. The House then voted 286-138 to pass the Senate version, with 87 Republicans joining all 199 Democrats to provide majority support.
Originally passed in 1994 and reauthorized since, the act provides support for organizations that serve domestic violence victims. Criminal prosecutions of abusers are generally the responsibility of local authorities, but the act stiffened sentences for stalking under federal law.
Supporters credit the act with sharply reducing the number of lives lost to domestic violence over the past two decades.
Last year, the House and Senate were unable to compromise on another extension of the act, with Republicans opposing Democratic attempts to specify inclusion of native Americans, undocumented immigrants and lesbian, transgender and bisexual women.
For the first time in our history, it will now be against federal law to tell a woman who is lesbian, bisexual, and/or transgender that they cannot receive domestic violence services, and it will now be illegal to tell a transgender woman who is displaced by domestic violence that they cannot be in a women’s shelter. As a survivor myself, I now feel safe in mind that I will have a place to go if I ever am threatened by roommates again.
In other good news, Native American women will be protected from violence by provisions that give a “long arm” to tribal courts to prosecute sexual abuse against Natives by non-Natives.
Thank you to all those representatives who put the needs of LGBT, Native American, and/or immigrant women above petty partisanship, which included practically EVERY single representative in the Philadelphia area. You have made me cry tears of joy.
-Jordan Gwendolyn Davis
“When I introduce the concept of reproductive justice to new audiences, at lectures or workshops, I always frame it in the same way. I use a really simple exercise, where I draw a stick figure on a piece of butcher paper, or an easel, or a chalkboard. Then I ask the question: “What things in this person’s life will impact their ability to create the family they want to create?” Usually it takes a few minutes for the audience to get going, but within five or ten minutes the result is a stick figure with many, many issues written in bubbles around them. Things like religion, money, environment, language, race, gender, sexuality, laws, incarceration end up surrounding the person.
This activity is a pretty decent illustration of my definition of reproductive justice—it’s working to build a world where everyone has what they need to create the family they want to create. And that work requires incorporating and taking into account all of those items written in bubbles on the diagram, as well as many we probably leave out. Almost always this exercise results in “ah ha” moments, and it’s had a striking universality—from using it with college students to using it in Latina immigrant communities on the border. Reproductive justice is an easier concept to explain in ten minutes than in a two-word soundbite, like pro-choice, but that additional context also allows for so many more of the issues and challenges or our every day lives to be made visible and explicitly included in our work.”
As someone who is Vietnamese and also identifies as being queer, these images really struck a chord with me. I rarely really see backgrounds or faces like my own in the LGBTQ or mainstream feminist/reproductive & sexual healthcare and rights movement, due to lack of representation and exclusion.
So, I’m sharing a few images of queer folks in Vietnam.
This couple of one year (Phat & Minh) are grooming their dogs.
This couple of one year (Vy & Bay) are just relaxing at home, watching TV and snacking.
This couple (Thien and Vuong) works at a wedding studio together and are having some lunch.
They’ve been together for more than five years now. Ly is drying her cat after a bath, and Huyen is trying her new blades.
Hung and Ngan are relaxing at home, listening to some music. They’ve been together for six years.
Consider this a lens into another culture. They’re real people who are experiencing love. They’re just ordinary people doing ordinary things.
Beyond aesthetics, I find these images to be great political statements given the social context.
Check out the photographer responsible for these images!
Feb 25, 2013
In the spheres of education and public health, sex education is often discussed in terms of content and outcomes. Policy makers, advocates, parents, and educators want to know: Does it teach about contraceptive methods? Is there a condom demonstration? Does it lead to young people delaying sex? Does it reduce rates of STI transmission? And certainly content and outcomes are of vital importance. But great sex education must also address the context of young people’s lives. And that requires that sex education support young people in building the knowledge, skills, and self-efficacy to create and navigate healthy relationships throughout their lives.
For too long, in reaction to years of federally-subsidized medically-inaccurate, misleading, and stigmatizing abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, advocates and educators in favor of comprehensive sex education have concentrated on a relatively small component of this topic. The work for comprehensive sex education has often focused narrowly on ensuring that young people can learn accurate and age-appropriate information about their bodies, about sexual decision-making and negotiation, and about reducing the risk of STI transmission and unintended pregnancy. And as a result, there have been positive shifts in sex education in recent years. Federal funding initiatives like the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative (TPPI) and the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) have increased the resources available in states, communities, and schools to implement evidence-based programs.
But too many of these programs and curricula focus narrowly on specific changes in youth risk behavior—such as delayed initiation of sex, reduced frequency of sex, and increased condom use—and not nearly enough on healthy relationships. This is a missed opportunity and an incomplete representation of comprehensive sex education.
Healthy relationships education is an integral component of truly comprehensive sex education. Released last year, the National Sexuality Education Standards outline the minimum, essential content and skills that is age-appropriate for children and youth in grades K-12, and healthy relationships is one of seven major topic areas (page 32). These standards outline the baseline of healthy relationship knowledge and skills that students should have after completing sex education coursework. For example, students should be able to:
It is not a coincidence that healthy relationships are a key component of comprehensive sex education, because comprehensive sex education is the best vehicle for healthy relationship education. The information and skills that it takes to create and navigate healthy relationships are best taught in the context of the non-judgmental, honest, and inclusive classrooms that comprehensive sex education fosters.
Because while some abstinence-only-until-marriage programs do purport to teach information and skills related to healthy relationships, these programs are full of flawed, incomplete, and harmful messages. These programs make false promises to youth that they will necessarily avoid heartache, regret, and “baggage” by pursuing relationships and avoiding sex. They teach young people that relationships that involve sexual activity can only chip away at a finite “self:” that youth have a certain amount of love and affection to give, and they will be diminished and depleted if they give it away “too soon” or to the “wrong” person. They often assume that (heterosexual) marriage is an inevitable and/or universally desired goal. This is a wildly limiting way to think about people’s personal and interpersonal capacity. Relationships—including young people’s relationships—can be opportunities for learning and growth, and we are much better off helping young people pursue mutually respectful and satisfying relationships than we are feeding them dishonest guarantees.
For many young people, part of pursuing and maintaining healthy relationships may mean delaying sex. For many others, it may not. Either way, a real understanding of communication, power, consent, sexual negotiation, and risk reduction is of vital importance. To fully meet young people’s rights and needs, we must take an inclusive and non-judgmental approach to relationship education. A sole focus on sexual refusal skills—as is the case in many abstinence-only-until-marriage programs—is just not sufficient. We must work with youth as they learn to form and maintain healthy relationships. This includes being truly inclusive of GLBTQ youth and families. It includes respecting and trusting young people with the knowledge and skills to negotiate relationships and sexuality on their own terms.
Healthy relationships education is not a “middle-ground” between comprehensive sex education and abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. If we don’t look closely, some programs may use the guise of healthy relationships education to reinforce the same old gender stereotypes and compulsory heterosexuality that we see in abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.
Rather, healthy relationships education is part and parcel of comprehensive sex education. Sex education programs that teach youth to reduce their risk of unintended pregnancy and STI transmission are incomplete if they neglect to build in youth the knowledge, skills, and self-efficacy to negotiate healthy relationships. And programs that purport to teach relationship skills but fail to do so in a way that represents the full range of experiences in young people’s lives are limiting and ultimately harmful.
We must take the strides we’ve made and move forward to ensure that sex education for young people is truly meeting their rights and needs and that healthy relationships education is integrally tied to the respect, honesty, and inclusivity of comprehensive sex education.
Feb 25, 2013
Feb 23, 2013
In my second semester with Texas Freedom Network, I was apart of a demonstration on campus showing student support for domestic
partner benefits. We may be nowhere near that on our own campus, but as the Texas Tribune reports, Pflugerville Independent School District has been the first Texas school district to implement these benefits. Unfortunately, their offer of health insurance to these couples didn’t go unnoticed by lawmakers opposing it.
State Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, filed a bill on Feb. 20 targeting the school district, but House Bill 1568 would apply to any Texas school district that would allow employees to add their domestic partner to their health care plan. Spring said he wants our tax dollars to go to children, not “trying to expand social benefits that we decided in 2005 was unconstitutional.” However, no tax dollars would be used in allowing these employees to add their partners. Employees would pay the premium.
Several major Texas cities already offer domestic partner benefits, so why not allow schools? Many of the lawmakers who say they believe in a better quality education for our children, but don’t seem to realize that to get the best of the best in teachers we need to offer the best of benefits. We could potentially be driving away valued faculty and staff in our schools at a time when that is the last thing we need.
Be sure to contact your state rep to tell them what you think about domestic partner benefits in our Texas schools.
Feb 20, 2013
At a school health conference last year, I was eager to attend workshops on research, curriculum, and teaching methodology related to healthy relationships education. Unfortunately, the one workshop I was able to attend on this topic was not just disappointing, but puzzling and ultimately upsetting.
I attended a workshop a new “research-based” curriculum called Relationship Smarts PLUS. And for at least 45 minutes, they had me fooled. The presenters described extensive program evaluation with thousands of students in Alabama public schools. They described decreases in students’ reported sanctioning and experiences of aggression within relationships. They shared with us their “7 Principles of Smart Relationships”—sound principles such as “expect good communication” and “seek…someone with common interests.” But red flags were raised when the facilitators (the writers and trainers of the curriculum) adlibbed gender stereotypes with glee whenever possible. When our handouts read Don’t Try to Change Someone Into Someone He or She Is Not, the workshop facilitators wasted no time telling us that “it is usually the girls trying to change the boys.” When the handouts said Don’t play games, be phony, or pressure someone, the facilitators added that “we all know that it is usually the boys trying to pressure the girls.” Their needless gender stereotypes only served to undermine their otherwise reasonable and universal advice for healthy relationships.
A similar pattern followed as we, the participants, shared from the slips of paper we’d been given to assess different experiences as Smart or Not-So-Smart expressions of the 7 Principles of Smart Relationships (page 23). Participants would read their statements as they saw them fitting in with the 7 principles, classifying each as Smart or Not-So-Smart. Two examples—
Here, the prompts seemed perfectly set up to be LGBTQ-inclusive—the first-person speaker’s pronoun or gender is never specified. And yet the workshop facilitators never failed to imply a heterosexual relationship in each of the scenarios. When I asked a question about whether the teachers in their extensive pilot and evaluation had received training on LGBTQ competency and inclusivity during their preparation, I was told: “This was in Alabama.”
I felt like I had been ambushed by a seemingly positive, or at least benign, program with a secret conservative agenda. I had to find out more about who wrote this curriculum—what were their values and motives?
Indeed, this curriculum from the Dibble Institute is undoubtedly in line with the legacy of marriage promotion programs—federally-backed initiatives that stemmed not from a true interest in promoting healthy, mutually-fulfilling relationships, but from conservative attempts to reform welfare. It turns out that one reason the facilitators were so set on implying the gender of the first-person speaker is that in the instructor’s manual of the curriculum, these relationship example cards are overtly divided into the Girl Class Set and the Guy Class Set (page 24). In other words, facilitators are supposed to give out separate prompts to girls and boys—prompts that almost universally refer to partners as he and she, respectively.
Upon closer investigation, the curriculum does have three mentions in these scenarios of young people who are questioning their sexuality and thinking they might be gay or bisexual, and they are primarily tied to an abstinence message. To separate these scenarios out—by stating, “I think I’m a lesbian and my girlfriend keeps pressuring me to have sex”—is to miss the point that healthy relationships matter across the range of sexual identity and experience. It would be far stronger to nix the Girl cards (where this example is one of 24) and the Guy cards and adopt more inclusive language, varied examples, and universalism to the understanding of the right to healthy relationships.
A look through the curriculum revealed additional gaps: in the multitude of relationship vignettes, why couldn’t any examples show young people openly discussing contraceptive options with their partners? Or planning to visit a clinic and speak with a health care provider? Or getting tested for STIs? The ability to do these things openly with a partner can very much be a positive or warning sign of a healthy or unhealthy relationship. To neglect to depict these important and responsible conversations and activities is to fail to paint them as such.
Lest we believe that this curriculum left out these aspects of relationships and decision-making by accident, the final of the Concluding Points for this activity is this:
“There is one thing that can be guaranteed – If you leave sex out of your relationship during your teen years, the pain of a broken heart, the level of regret, and the high-cost risks of STDs and pregnancy will be reduced or avoided. You will have less baggage and more freedom to experience relationships and to move on if you need to. For now, the best advice is to enjoy each other and have fun as you try out relationships and keep these principles as a guide.” (page 16)
The fundamental messages of healthy relationship education matter—and Relationship Smarts PLUS may have gotten a few things right—but the values of the messenger matter, too. Do you really want a curriculum from the same people who developed and promote a lesson for high school students on the perils of “cohabitation” called Why Buy the Cow When You Can Get the Milk for Free?
Feb 20, 2013
Taking an anthropology class which focuses on culture, illness and healing provides an alternative way to understand current issues. Especially when I read Ian Hacking’s Making Up People. In the article, the author tried to understanding how certain categories of people are created by society and how, what he called “dynamic nominalism” which means both defining a term from the authority as well as behaved by individuals, reinforce “making up people”. By studying the official statistics of nineteenth century, he found that before the nineteenth century, there seem to be no homosexual people. Then he discussed how the society made up homosexuality.
This is an interesting argument since now we are advocating for LGBTQ rights, however, without carefully researching how each culture makes up their own LGBTQ group we cannot find the exact solution.
For example, the different histories and cultures between Western countries and China make two different LGBTQ social perceptions. From a great case study book on Chinese homosexuality I was reading, a chapter was devoted to the discussion of this difference. While in countries such as the United States which are more religious, the voice against LGBTQ is much stronger since social perception of morality is largely depend on religious believes. However, on the contrary, in a country such as China which has a long history of separation between religion and state, although it may have a much strict morality towards sexuality, however, it is more open in terms of homosexuality.
“China used to be half heaven for homosexual people” said by a leading researcher of sexuality in China and it is true. Chinese people used to be really open to homosexuality. In the Wei-Jin dynasty, there even appeared to be a general reorganization as well as appreciation among educated people towards homosexuality. And even in Shi Jin, which is a super famous collection of poems from ancient China, a well-known poem is suspected by today’s scholars as a love poem from a man to another. Also, what is generally recognized is that China used to and still be a homosocial society—which means Chinese people are comfortable with same sex’s close relationship. And it was until 1949, China started to characterize homosexuality as “wrong capitalism behaviors” and then defined homosexuality as crime but removed it from law later and changed it into some kind of mental illness, but after 2001, the government officially took it out of mental illness and now, it became a gray area but is generating popularity in China again—as there is an increasing popularity and publicity of homosexuality.
So what is clear that if we really want to push LGBTQ right movement forward, it is not only enough if we only look now—we need to know how societies make their own LGBTQ groups up so that we may reverse those processes to break down “norms” which barrier LGBTQ right movement.
Feb 19, 2013
(See link: http://stfuprolife.tumblr.com/post/42021609348/all-states-except-oregon-now-limit-abortion-access)
The above graph lists all the states and their abortion restrictions. Although, Roe v. Wade gives people the right to abortion, Planned Parenthood v. Casey gave states the right to limit access to abortion without posing an “undue burden.” Even though the World Health Organization has already declared that a restriction or limitation of safe, legal, and accessible abortion leads to a decrease in health for people, specifically women (although we all have the understanding that it’s not just women who are affected by this).
Some states have less than a handful of clinics that can even provide these services and some states simply have unreasonable restrictions that prevent people from getting the healthcare they need. This forces people to travel, sometimes out of their means, to get an abortion. Others seek more dangerous options. Until this changes, there are some things that are helping people right now.
There is a particular page that I have been supporting on my own site (ST*U, Pro-Life) called the Abortion Assistance Blog. This is how it describes itself:
A collection of abortion funds, individuals willing to provide transportation and/or lodging before and after your appointment, and other resources.
This blog is intended to be a resource for people of all genders, races, sexualities, and abilities. If you are offering help, but not willing to help someone based on one of those categories, please say so. Everyone deserves to be safe and supported.
This blog has several links, providing help and information. It lets readers know how they can help or where they can find help. Many people go on the blog leaving contact information or simply letting others know that they could provide transportation, lodging, or monetary support. I recommend to everyone to check it out and share.
It’s just not enough to just say that we support reproductive/sexual health care and rights anymore. It never has been.
Feb 18, 2013
Human Trafficking is a major issue all over the world, happening not just in far flung nations, but happening here domestically. Although all people can be victims of this ugly epidemic, there needs to be more focus on how it affects the transgender community. The FBI, on a website devoted to human trafficking issues, actually mentioned the term “transgender”
Other young people are recruited into prostitution through forced abduction, pressure from parents, or through deceptive agreements between parents and traffickers. Once these children become involved in prostitution, they often are forced to travel far from their homes and, as a result, are isolated from their friends and family. Few children in this situation can develop new relationships with peers or adults other than the person victimizing them. The lifestyle of such youths revolves around violence, forced drug use, and constant threats.8
Among children and teens living on the streets in the United States, involvement in commercial sex activity is a problem of epidemic proportion. Many girls living on the street engage in formal prostitution, and some become entangled in nationwide organized crime networks where they are trafficked nationally. Criminal networks transport these children around the United States by a variety of means—cars, buses, vans, trucks, or planes—and often provide them counterfeit identification to use in the event of arrest. The average age at which girls first become victims of prostitution is 12 to 14. It is not only the girls on the streets who are affected; boys and transgender youth enter into prostitution between the ages of 11 and 13 on average.9
Here in Pennsylvania, the latest piece of legislation to address human trafficking in general is SB75, put out by Senator Stewart Greenleaf, which at a whopping 63 pages, seeks to overhaul the way sex trafficking is handled here. And, a search of the terms “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” indicates that it is one of four bills (as of February 18, 2013) to be LGBT inclusive.
On pages 45-46 of the bill, language is added in to include personal characteristics that should be considered and recognized.
(b) Personal characteristics to be considered.–In the
development of the State plan under this section, the council shall consider the following factors relevant to the human trafficking victim and the victim’s dependent children:
(3) Special needs.
(4) Sexual orientation.
(5) Gender identity.
(6) Racial and ethnic background.
So, I guess we have some recognition of the special focus that needs to be put on LGBT survivors of human trafficking. However, a statement about shelters on page 54 of this bill contains a chilling omission.
(a) Voluntary placement.–Residence of a human trafficking victim in a shelter or other facility shall be voluntary, and a human trafficking victim may decline to stay in a shelter orother facility.
(b) Restrictions on admission.–Admission to a shelter:
(1) shall be made without regard to race, religion,
ethnic background, sexual orientation, country of origin or culture
Note how there is no reference to gender identity in the part of the bill that actually puts teeth on regulations towards provision of services, rather, it is only a mention in terms of tracking statistics. And of course, a study by Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute mentions an all too familiar problem with transgender people and shelters.
It is crucial that police and other law enforcement work with informed human trafficking and LGBTQ organizations to increase sensitivity and the possibility of victim identification. And we must provide services and housing specific to the needs of LGBTQ persons who are survivors of trafficking in persons. For example, as far as we know, none of the trafficking shelter beds available in New York City are available for trans-women. The public dialogue is overwhelmingly dominated by discussions of “girls” leading us to believe that trafficking is a crime exclusively against under-age cisgender (one whose sex at birth matches her gender identity) women, resulting in a narrow focus by those most likely to be able to lend a helping hand. Meeting the needs of trans-women will also require specific outreach campaigns.
This is just another example of ill-informed “bathroom panic” threatening gender self-determination and throwing transgender people who have been rescued from human trafficking out of the frying pan and into the fire, and yet another example of bills which otherwise further LGBT people doing it wrong in terms of the most vulnerable.
It appears that the bill was voted out of committee as of February 6, 2013, however, I will not support this bill until they add in gender identity inclusive language in terms of shelter admissions.
-Jordan Gwendolyn Davis
Feb 16, 2013
For those who are not really sure where Lebanon is located, it is on the east coast of the Mediterranean and is bordered by Syria (north and east) and Palestine/Israel (south). It is in the Middle East so feel free to assume that all the homophobia one expects to find in that part of the world holds true for Lebanon too. Or maybe not.
I have decided to dedicate this blog to discuss the LGBT reality in Lebanon because this country is very dear to me. To start, there is really just one law that holds the Lebanese LGBT community back. Article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code prohibits having sexual relations that are “contradicting the laws of nature,” which is punishable by up to a year in prison. The law is rarely applied, as it depends on the personal views of the respective judge regarding homosexuality, but still serves as a threat. More often than not, people who are arrested are arrested for drugs or prostitution instead, and their main worry is being outed to their family. The Lebanese society at large suffers from a rampant homophobia, which is mostly based on religion (mainly Christianity and Islam) and culture (Arabic, patriarchy, traditional, conservative, etc).
That notwithstanding, there is a lot of hope for the new generation, as younger people tend to have more neutral or even positive attitudes towards homosexuality. Exposure to [Western] pop culture and access to Internet more or less demystifies the invalid homophobia society instills in people from the day they are born. Moreover, Lebanon also enjoys an “underground” LGBT movement. There is a number of LGBT publications, such as Barra (Out in Arabic) which is the first gay periodical in the Arab world, and Bareed Mista3jil, which is a female LGBTQ short stories book that is gradually gaining more of an international acclamation. In addition, there is number of organizations working to promote LGBT rights, such as Helem (Dream in Arabic), which also stands for Lebanese Protection for Homosexuals (not formally recognized by the government), and Meem for LGBTQ women (formally recognized as a feminist organization sans LGBT focus).
Feb 10, 2013
Feb 10, 2013
(oldie but goody)
Feb 6, 2013
We’re thrilled to share this great op-ed by Amplify youth contributor Hannah, published this week in The Advocate. Hannah shares her moving personal story and urges LGBT organizations to prioritize young people most in need.
“Before I could even register what happened, I suddenly found myself without a legal residence, car, phone, or insurance of any kind. I was kicked out with just the clothes on my back. Pleas of reconnecting with my parents were met with “We’re done with you” or “You’re forbidden to come back. You will not see us again.
I was fortunate enough to be surrounded with several good friends, have a committed relationship, finally attain a legal residence, and hold two jobs. Others are not so fortunate. The Williams Institute confirms that 40% of homeless youth are LGBT.
Our progressive organizations are certainly fervent in their pursuit of marriage equality and combating bullying, but the majority of them seem to be appallingly silent on this issue, which currently affects thousands of teens. It’s a combination of issues, relating to sexual orientation, gender identity, class, and race. It’s complicated, but couldn’t we all acknowledge that there’s more to social justice for the LGBT community than just marriage equality?”
Feb 5, 2013
Due to a number of factors including my laziness, lack of interest and a lack of mastery of the art of tv show recaps, this is my first post about American Horror Story: Asylum. If you haven’t seen any of the seasons, put that at the top of your to-do list. It will BLOW. YOUR. MIND. Most things that fall into the horror category don’t scare me unless they are about twisted humans of the “Human Centipede”/”A Serbian Film” variety. That stuff makes me want to build a colony on Mars away from all the craziness. AHS on the other hand is just the right mix of crazy and mindf*ckery. Take for instance season one – You’ve got the haunted house, the maid who appears to be different ages to different people, the ghosts of all the people who died in the house, the cute boy who always seems to get into the house no matter whether the doors are locked, mixed in with pop culture murder history like the Black Dahlia killing and Richard Speck murders. At one point I began to question my sanity. I kid you not. I do not recommend watching an entire season in one sitting.
Anyhoo, AHS: Asylum is set in Briarcliff Mental Institution, then run by the Catholic Church, and switches back and forth between the 1960s and present day. It begins with a young couple visiting the now abandoned Briarcliff on one of their many haunted house, honeymoon stops. Why couldn’t they just go to the Bahamas like normal people right? Just so I don’t spoil it, bad things happen and the viewers are taken back to 1964, when a serial killer by the name of “Bloodyface” has killed a number of women and skinned them. Around the same time, a newly married inter-racial couple, Kit and Alma Walker, are visited by a strange white light, after which Kit awakes to find his wife missing and himself blamed for the Bloodyface murders.
Enter Lana Winters, journalist and aspiring pioneer of whatever the hell she aspires to be. Lana is a lesbian and lives with her girlfriend Wendy, a school teacher. She visits the Asylum the day Kit is being committed under the guise of writing a story about the bakery. The bread didn’t look at all tasty but well…Lana’s visit does not end well and she ends up herself committed at Briarcliff with no one to help her. Sister Jude, who oversees the institution has threatened to out Lana and her girlfriend and Wendy is scared. I’m really bad at telling stories so I should probably stop now and get to the point. I get my long-windedness from my mother’s side. See?
Let’s just say that I liked the fact that AHS: Asylum explored not only issues of inter-racial relationships – which were at one point illegal – but also, LGBT issues. We didn’t just poof out of thin air y’all. We were always here. In one episode, Dr. Thredson, a consulting psychiatrist, tries Aversion-Conversion therapy on Lana, with the purported aim of helping her get out of there. If she continued to insist that she was gay, she would remain committed because the holier-than-thous of Briarcliff were determined to cure her. And because Lana is sick and tired of Briarcliff and its inhumane conditions, she agrees to try it.
The therapy basically consisted of attempts to recalibrate the sources of her sexual urges. That’s the best way I can think to explain it right now. Thredson had her watch slides of nude women while an IV fed a vomit-inducing drug into her system, in order to ingrain the message of repulsion. He also had a male patient come in and ordered Lana to touch his penis while simultaneously touching herself. What a degrading experience. Makes me wonder if practices like these are employed by so-called gay conversion therapists.
Despite everything, Lana came out on top. She wrote a book about her experiences in Briarcliff and with Bloodyface, and became a national sensation for her journalistic exposés. Plus she cheated death a bunch of times. I can’t discuss it any further without revealing some really good bits. Almost everyone had a peaceful ending, but she was the last one standing. And boy! Did she go out with a bang.
Now go watch all the available episodes of AHS! You can thank me later.
Feb 4, 2013
“Individuals who identify as straight but in psychological tests show a strong attraction to the same sex may be threatened by gays and lesbians because homosexuals remind them of similar tendencies within themselves.”
While goofing around at work today (feb.4.2013) i stumbled upon this article on blackenterprise.com and it is saying what i have been saying all this time with regards to homophobia and homosexuality, there is a link with both (i believe).
I have always said that Jamaica is most “homophobic homosexual society” meaning that we have so many people bashing and hurting homosexuals while they are homosexuals themselves or have attractions for the same sex. Click the link to read the summary below.
Feb 1, 2013
So next week the Boy Scouts of America are set to announce a policy change that would allow troops to “permit” gay and bisexual Scouts and troop leaders.
Now I don’t want to come off as completely phlegmatic to the decision. This is huge – and a major step in a positive direction for an organization that impacts the lives of so many gay and bisexual young men. This change will allow young men like Ryan Anderson to get the honor of an eagle scout award in recognition of his amazing work (that is a tough feat, y’all,) one he had previously been denied.
But forgive me if I don’t shower you with admiration when you say “okay, so we’ll allow people to decide if you can come in now.”
So you’re moving away from denying I’m a boy, to allowing people to make that decision for me.
I should note that I was a Boy Scout. A gay Boy Scout. I wasn’t a particularly good Boy Scout, mind you. I spent a couple years with my troop and I don’t think I went up in rank any higher than second class (which if you don’t know much about the Boy Scouts, that’s pretty low.) I’m not a particularly good rule follower and have never had much interest in ceremony. I was in it for the camping and the comradery. I was in it because I wanted to be a boy.
Which is what I feel this half-hearted policy change and much of the national discourse around it is failing to address.
As men, cultural expectations of our masculinity often deny us opportunities to build meaningful relationships with other men. As gay men, those opportunities are even fewer and often wrought with trauma because of our perceived transgression of what it means to be masculine. To put it simply; being a boy is supposed to look one way and you get punished when it doesn’t.
The biggest impact being a part of the Boy Scouts had on my life was an opportunity to figure out how to relate to other men and discover who I was in the process. Yes, I went on long backpacking trips, and learned how to tie knots, and to use a bow and arrow, and to start fires. Yes, I swam and biked miles for a merit badges, climbed mountains, and slept outside. I also remember singing Britney Spears songs along with my troop on the way to campsites, choreographing dances in front of the campfire, and picked a lot of flowers.
I remember making friends, and talking about what was going on in our families and what we felt about it, and trying to figure out this puberty thing and all of the weird associated emotions. We were boys talking and being with each other attempting to sort out what this whole living thing was and where we fit into it. Also camping.
But as I mentioned, I didn’t progress far in the Boy Scouts. While I loved the activities and the people, my interest in and capacity to really climb the ranks of the organization was pushed aside by my own coming out process as well as a plethora of medical issues I was going through at the time. While I knew I was gay, or at least something of the sort even if I didn’t currently have the language, I didn’t come out while I was a part of the organization. At the time “gay” and “boy” weren’t things I felt I could simultaneously be. Even as an adult with access to much more language and knowledge on ideas of what it means to be a man or to be gay, I still struggle to feel I can exist in both identities. But being in the Boy Scouts gave me a chance to see what that could possibly look like.
Sometimes boy scouts go on to be and do absolutely brilliant things; achieve that Eagle Scout award, change the world, and be that incredible leader in their community. And sometimes boys just need a space, a time, a place, to figure out what being a boy means.
Which is why this movement away from complete exile to allowing for gatekeepers is not nearly enough. The Boys Scouts of America don’t need a policy that permits discrimination, but refuses it. Gay men, gay boys, are not one or the other depending on who is allowing us to come to the table. We are always both.
The Girl Scouts are modeling a brilliant path, allowing trans youth to become girl scouts and troop leaders. Why are we so resistant to allow the same opportunities of self discovery of identity to our boys? When “boy” is being defined in such specific terms that few people have access to it, who are we actually helping? Deciding for anyone what they are allowed to be; whether that is an astronaut or a brain surgeon –or a boy– is a failure of our society. The denial of the ability of young men and boys to define what that means to them is harmful not just to gay, bisexual or trans young people, but to all our young people.
The Boy Scouts of America’s motto is “Be Prepared.”
Well Boy Scouts, be prepared for some serious change. Because being a boy means so much more than being straight.
Feb 1, 2013
Last weekend, I was in Atlanta, Georgia attending the twenty-fifth Creating Change conference. For those who are not familiar with Creating Change, it is the biggest national conference on LGBT equality in the US and receives over 2,000 attendees each year. The conference is organized by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which is an American nonprofit organization with the mission to build the grassroots power of the LGBT community. Creating Change takes place over a long weekend during which sessions are held to explore various issues that face the LGBT community. This year was my first time attending this conference as I was there to represent Advocates For Youth’s International Youth Leadership Council (IYLC) and my country. Thus, I was part of a panel entitled, “U.S. Foreign policy, queer activism, and The Global Human rights movement: Tensions, Trials, and Opportunities.” As its name indicates, the panel looked into the relationship between LGBT advocacy in the United States and the realities of queer activism in the developing world. We had a great turnout of over 75 attendees and the discussion was engaging and informative to all.
That notwithstanding, the highlight of my time at Creating Change was listening to Bishop Gene Robinson and meeting him in person. Robinson is an American retired bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire and is widely known for being the first priest in an openly gay relationship to be consecrated a bishop in a major Christian denomination. Robinson has done and is still doing a lot to advance the LGBT movement. As a Christian myself, I had a hard time growing up and accepting homosexuality without “betraying” my Christian upbringing. For a long time, I thought Christianity and homosexuality are mutually exclusive. Thus, my spiritual journey was a challenging one, as I had to alter my beliefs to fit both identities together. At Creating Change, Robinson added the cherry on top by explicitly stating how one can be both Christian and LGBT at the same time. To do so, he reminded us of a line in the Bible that reads, “I still have a lot to say to you, but you cannot bear it now. Yet when the Spirit of Truth comes, he’ll guide you into all truth” (John 16:12-13). According to Robison, the Bible is telling us, “Don’t think for a minute that God is done with you. You will do amazing things later. The Holy Spirit will lead you to all truths.” For him, this is an exciting view of God. “God didn’t say all He wanted to say to us by the end of the scriptures.” He has left a lot out, which shall be revealed to us with time. For example, Robinson believes that the end of slavery, the recognition of people of color and the recognition of women are all examples of the Holy Spirit’s work in human history. This is exactly what President Obama alluded to in his inauguration speech when he mentioned Seneca Falls, Selma, and Stonewall. Therefore, it is only fair to believe that wide recognition of LGBT rights is on its way. Moreover, it is more than possible to achieve it through God’s work, as the Holy Spirit’s job is to bring us to new truths. In the words of Robinson, “there is something comforting about believing that God is still revealing himself to us.” God did not say all He wanted to say in the scriptures. He did not say, “that’s it I’m done, I’m off to the Bahamas [for a one-way holiday]!”
Feb 1, 2013
Roe v. Wade guaranteed abortion as a legal right across the country. A separate decision two decades later, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, guaranteed states’ rights to limit access to abortion, so long as it did not pose an “undue burden” on the woman.
States have, over the past four decades, made no short use of that latter right. Only one state, Oregon, has not layered additional restrictions on top of the Roe decision. At the other end of the spectrum is Oklahoma: With 22 abortion restrictions, it has more than any other state. The chart below, courtesy of Remapping the Debate, has the full list. You can also gohere for an interactive version of the graphic, which will let you look at what type of restrictions each state has set.
Jan 29, 2013
Kyrgyz Indigo has conducted a winter camp on security and coping strategies in Kashka-Suu.
On the first day participants were introduced to each other, designed important rules of conduct, played a game “Winter blows”, divided roles among themselves and started to paint their T-shirts. The roles were divided into the following categories:
On the second day we had 4 major sessions:
The presentation and group discussions were aimed at discussing the following issues: How to protect yourself from thieves? How to avoid becoming the victim of an attack in the street? How to protect yourself in the public transportation? How to protect yourself from fraud? How to drink without getting drunk?
Participants learned to cope with a strong fear and/or panic.
We discussed self-defense instruments: what is better and more effective? And vulnerable point of human’s body. Participants were introduced to self-defense technique based on Krav Maga.
Presentation gave information to the participants on what to do if arrested? which rights do we have? What are the responsibilities and rights of the police?
The third day included three sessions:
We discussed the following issues: How to protect the computer from unauthorized access to private information? How to protect your important files with a password? How to protect yourself from online fraud? How to protect yourself and stay anonymous when using e-mail, instant messengers, online dating web-sites and social networks?
How, when, why should we provide first aid? What are the responsibilities of the person, who provides first aid.
Which rights do human rights defenders have? What can human rights activists and defenders do in the case of a dangerous situation? – these and other questions were answered during the session.
On the last day participants gave both written and oral feedback, they were also given official certificates. Moreover, those guys, who performed their roles, were given letters of thanks and the most active participants got special prizes.
We had an amazing time together!
Criticism is important, necessary and valuable. It shows that you need to work on mistakes, problems and shortcomings. Critics helps an organization to grow and to influence and change the situation by reducing the violence and discrimination.
It is always easy to shout from the warm nest, feeling secured ….
Rarely the people who have status and privileges, “exemplary sons and daughters,” those who are not concerned about their financial well-being, do not think about how not die the next day from hunger, how to find a place to stay … those people who have never experienced or seen horrific violence … who do not know what it means to be beaten up just because you’re gay, to be raped just because you’re a lesbian, or to be killed just because you’re transgender … who never felt that wild helplessness in the victims of violence and hatred… such people do not visit, ignore, fear of, and some of them are even against LGBT organizations.
And in contrary those who are not afraid to lose their status and privilege become LGBT activists … Not surprisingly, my colleague has many grammatical errors, when he writes… not because he is so unprofessional, but because he was born and grew up in certain conditions, which, unfortunately, didn’t give him opportunity to learn to write without grammatical errors.
And I ask all of you… not just to criticize, but to be in solidarity and to try to help … I admire a man who recently started visiting Indigo … He has the high status and privilege while working at a well-known international organization … but he nevertheless comes in and helps to prepare project proposals. He is a specialist and realize that we need his help. Such people inspire you and they improve overall performance of the organization.
There are people (I know them personally) who graduated from the prestigious universities, travelled a lot in Europe, the U.S. and other countries, enjoying a vacation there, visiting gay bars and night clubs, meeting openly with others gay guys … and after enjoying this freedom … they come back to Kyrgyzstan and whine and cry that in Kyrgyzstanit’s so bad and not safe to be gay… I do not understand them … This freedom … gay marriage … antidiscrimination laws in Europe… they what? appeared on their own? all of a sudden? fell from somewhere for the benefit of LGBT people? NO! All this has been achieved by the politicization of the LGBT movement …. thanks to activists, initiatives, various organizations (international and local, large and tiny, radical or not). It is strange that these people are coming back from their vacations in Europe or somewhere else, and tell me these words:
“You’re wasting your time. In Kyrgyzstan we will live freely only after a hundred years ”
“These NGOs launder money of donors”
“Do not you feel sorry for your parents?”
“But you’re not doing anything specific”
“You will get to nowhere”
“Which rights? We have all the rights … ”
“Why are you so open and scream everywhere that you are gay?”
I feel sometimes sad … sad that I have to loose my face among my relatives, putting my beloved parents into insecurity, jeopardizing my future and may be complicating my life, and now I am in all this verbal shit. The only thing that keeps me awake – is the fate of people caught in difficult situations or overstep any difficulties in their lives… other activists and wonderful people who support and motivate …
What Kyrgyzstanwill be in 10 years, even 50 or 100 years … is up to us …
I wish there were less verbal shit and more constructive criticism in this small world …
Human language is very important because it captures the essence of many things. It is important to use precise terminology and the right words. If you make at first minor assumption and use words incorrectly, and then normalize these words, using them every day, you can come to false conclusions, prejudices and expectations.
So I did in the beginning …
In earlier blog posts I wrote “homosexualism” instead of “homosexuality”, not realizing medicalization and deviance of the concept “homosexualism.” Only later, thanks to correct observations of other activists, I replaced the word “homosexualism” to “homosexuality.” This is a simple replacement of words, so what? It is important to do this, because every word is a set of associations, it contains surprisingly the memory, history, and even whole attitude (perhaps even a lifetime) of certain groups of people. The use of a word brings forth these feelings, emotions, the memory, history and reflects the life of individuals …
There’s the word gay (I do not want consciously to put the word in quotation marks). Many people are afraid of this word. Some people just ignore it. Others hate that word. And still others, like me, cherish the word. This is crucial. This reflects not only the word of my life with my feelings, emotions, experiences … but also the lives of my parents … the lives of many others … I’m gay, and by saying this I put a lot into this phrase: I put all my past, present and even the future. It’s a part of me, a big part of my identity. If somebody extracted and destroyed this great pieceof me, I would loose most of my life, not only my personal life, but also the life of an activist. It will be a tragedy for me. It’s the same tragedy, that will take away a large chunk of the identity of any other person, for example, women in some remote mountain villages in Kyrgyzstan. If you ask a woman, “Who are you?” She probably will immediately reply, “I am a mother.” She will not say that she’s a teacher, a housewife or even a woman. She will say that she’s a mother. Her children are the meaning of her life and all her identity is based on that role. If suddenly this part of her identity was destroyed (if she lost her children, for example), then she would lose the meaning of her life and, thus, a part of herself. So, if I lost this important piece of me … piece of the identity, expressed in the phrase, “I’m gay,” I would likely lose myself.
But I stubbornly use this word instead of “fag”, “homosexual” (nasty word, isn’t it? It was invented as a kind of antonym to the word “heterosexual”), MSM – men who have sex with men (which seems to be a neutral word, but it is actually not), not only because it is the word of my life and my identity, but because it is politically important. It is important to say I am gay, because this word absorbed hundreds, thousands, millions of lives, tragedies, experiences, achievements, and happiness. Moreover, it is a potential word of pride. I can not be proud of that I’m a “fag.” This word is full of negative connotations, hatred and anger. I can’t be proud of being “homosexual” or “MSM”. I am proud that I am gay. This means that I am proud of my life, my courage and determination to fight against prejudice, hatred, violence, and inequality. By saying “I’m proud that I’m gay,” I mean that I am proud of myself and my life … because as I explained above … the phrase “I’m gay” is significant in my life and is a part of me.
Let us look at two more phrases: “LGBT community” and “MSM community.” I am against the term MSM, as it is apoliticised, superneutral, and alienated term …. the term of NGOs, dry statistics, HIV prevention programs. It does not reflect the life and history … This term does not carry the memory of the inclusiveness and variety of the word “gay.” I am against the widespread use of this term and of course I consider the phrase “the MSM community” absurd.
“LGBT community” … Hmm, is there such a community? Today a friend of mine asked this questio. Let’s see what the community means. Community is understood not only as a community of people who are constantly in contact with each other, communicate, live side by side. There is also a different understanding of the word. We use such phrases as “international community” or “online community.” How then can we talk about the close contacts among people when it comes to all mankind? Community is when people have common goals, problems, needs, risks, intentions, values, which in turn affect the identity of these people. In this context, we can talk about the LGBT community. But it’s still not so easy …. The LGBT community is so diverse, multifaceted, and to some extent contradictory. Specific goals, challenges, needs, values, etc. of certain groups within LGBT forces me to use the phrase “the LGBT communities” instead. We are many and we are all different (therefore, we have so many different organizations: Labrys, Kyrgyz Indigo, Pathfinder, Bishkek Feminist Collective SQ, Gender Vector, Asman, etc.) …. I think it’s correct to talk about the LGBT community as a political community. That is, as one of the activists said “The only thing in common – a political struggle against oppression and for non-discrimination and non-violence.” This reflects the “political solidarity” within the LGBT community. In this perspective, you can also talk about the LGBT community.
Terms, I guess, are now sorted out
What does it mean to me … to be an activist of LGBT movement in Kyrgyzstan? It means…
- To help people, who have experienced abuse and violence
- To be able to understand the laws and legal issues
- To know and to talk about our common human rights
- To feel proud of myself after I helped someone
- To be a role model for someone from LGBT communities
- To understand the importance of cooperation and solidarity. To volunteer for organizations that defend the rights of people with disabilities, youth and children’s organizations
- To be able to communicate with people
- To sacrifice my time, resources, and may be even my future
- To get inspiration from other activists and their work
- To involve people, listen to their unique stories (though often very sad stories)
- To find new friends
- To experience an acute shortage of time due to a heap of cases. To sacrifice weekends and evenings, meals and sleep … Even not to have time to take a shower
- To get a ton of criticism and misunderstanding from my parents (“Why are you doing this?”), from my friends (“Oh, come on! We will never achieve this. LGBT rights are utopia”), from my community (“You are just working because of donors money”), from other activists (“Why do not you participate in the particular event? We are very sad that you don’t participate in our events”)
- Always to read the materials and to be aware of all: academic research, news, legislation, etc.
- To experience great stress, and sometimes to be depressed by big and small failures, misunderstanding, lack of support, burnout … but then to take a deep breath and to move forward again …
- To meet with people from different international organizations, to share experiences, to speak at conferences, general meetings
- To be able to say “thank you” to those who has helped me and others …
- To feel a deep sadness at the fact that some individuals of the communities actually do not care …. in spite of the resources available to them (it’s funny, they love to go to “nonhomophobic and free Europe” and to think that it was always like that there, while cursing, criticizing and hating Kyrgyzstan). At the same time to be sincerely grateful to those volunteers who with scare resources (money, training or skills) still help us.
Being an activist is difficult: you sacrifice many things – status, security of yourself and your family, your money, health, but you learn a lot … most importantly, you know that you doing something siginificant in this world … and therefore feel this rare sense of happiness and pride.
Jan 28, 2013
Recently, the issue of Chinese Tong Qi (a word means gay wives) becomes media focus after a court proposal has been introduced to the court of Beijing–the capital city of China. This proposal, focused on helping gay wives to divorce with their husbands, described by a major Chinese news agency—will bring “new hope to women who have unwittingly married gay men, prompting vibrant discussions about how to protect the women while upholding gay rights”. With no surprise, it is currently under heated debating, and from my point of view, although it is proposed with good intensions, it may not be as perfect as it claimed to be. However, before I start to discuss some of my own thoughts, I hope the following two news articles will provide more in depth illustrations of the issue.
While the first article named “Gay Marriage Gone Wrong” provides some background knowledge about the Tong Qi phenomenon, the second article named “Proposal to Help Chinese ‘Gay Wives’ Stirs Debate” provides an overview of the debate over the court proposal.
The proposal, although is debatable, is, actually, somewhat encouraging and it illustrates China’s willingness to move forward on its own homosexuality issue. Also, this proposal is a big step in terms of breaking the grey area in Chinese legal system. However, although encouraging, this proposal, in my opinion, should not be the first step in addressing homosexuality in China. Although it may help the gay wives, it will further hurt gay people in China. Given the fact that in China homosexuality was removed from the list of mental health in 2001 and still suffers from grate discrimination, it is also one of the grey areas in Chinese legal system—in China, currently there is no law against homosexuality, however, there is also not much to protect them. As a result, most gay people in China still try hard to hide their sexual orientation. So, if the proposal gets passed and becomes the first step of addressing homosexuality, it will only expose Chinese gay people in the culture environment without protection, which will create more pressure on them and may have a huge impact on their mental health.
So, to sum up, although I do feel happy for my own country, I do want to push it future on addressing homosexuality issues.
Jan 25, 2013
Howard University, an HBCU will be hosting an event where their student body and anyone in the D.C area who wishes to attend can discuss what it means to be apart of the LGBTQ community.
Jan 18, 2013
“We realize that transitioning isn’t for everyone. However, too many people make “regret” claims that simply aren’t true. Take a look.”
Jan 17, 2013
…Only a small wedge of the pie.
Don’t get me wrong, I would like to be able to get married and reap the benefits, BUT, when we the LGBT(QIA) Movement proclaims we are striving for inclusively, we miss the mark. I would like us to step back and have a more genuine approach than marriage “equality”—which is more like “marriage homogeny”. Here are just a few family types that do not receive marriage benefits because they do not fit the current marriage mold: blended families, polyamorous families and co-habitating non-married families.
Also, Marriage “Equality” is not the only issue, and sometimes I feel like it is the only LGBT issue I hear about! Pushing our representatives to pass The Employment Non-discrimination Act (ENDA) would have more positive benefits for a larger portion of the LGBTQIA community. Did you know, in North Carolina, I am employed at will, and don’t have state level/federal level protection from being fired for my sexual orientation? In fact, unless your employer has regulations in place to protect you from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender presentation, you can be fired for being gay; which has no bearing on a person’s work ethic and work performance.
2013 is a great time to focus on the other issues that affect the LGBTQIA community. Start by finding out who your Representatives and Senators are and write them urging them to bring back and pass The Employment Non-discrimination Act (ENDA).
(Disclaimer: There are many other issues that are important to the LGBTQIA community, I am only one member and I feel that ENDA is important.)
Jan 16, 2013
We need to talk about why we’re not talking about Uganda.
A recent report from progressive watchdog organization Media Matters found that despite the hot-button nature of Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill, cable news networks in America have seriously lagged in covering the legislation. In November, for example, the viral music video for “Gangnam Style” by South Korean rapper Psy received more coverage on CNN and Fox News than Uganda’s attempt to kill LGBT people. In fact, Fox didn’t cover the legislation at all. Notably, MSNBC devoted twice as much airtime to covering the “Kill the Gays” bill as it did to discussing “Gangnam Style.”
from The Advocate
Jan 14, 2013
Demand an apology from The Guardian for publishing hate speech
Julie Burchills piece on Comment is Free (Jan 2013) (In response to Suzanne Moores also disgusting comments on CiF) is nothing more than a transphobic hate speech. We call on The Guardian to apologise for publishing a piece which delegitimises the identity of trans* people and incites hatred towards them. Gender reassignment is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act, discrimination against trans* people is unlawful. Lets not let the Guardian get away with publishing pieces of such a disgusting transphobic nature.
AMENDED: The comment is published by the Observer (Guardians sunday paper). It is however on the Guardian Online and therefore they should also be issuing an apology.