Archive | October, 2013

Boycott Ender’s Game: My Disappointment with Harrison Ford…

31 Oct

Ender's Game (2013) trailer HARRISON FORD (Screengrab)Let’s be clear from the outset. Every ticket sold for the movie Ender’s Game enhances the wealth and well-being of a notorious homophobe. Orson Scott Card has been an enormously successful science fiction and fantasy author and has used his wealth and fame to denigrate and oppose the LGBT community at every turn. Every outlet that promotes the film without acknowledging Card’s opinions and influence is colluding with his vile efforts.

I write this article with a great sadness and heaviness upon my heart, given the first major promotional piece I saw for the film. I was watching the Graham Norton Show as Harrison Ford was promoting the movieShame on Graham Norton for even giving airtime to the nefarious Card and sustaining a heterosexist culture. How ironic that precious minutes of his show were so exceedingly harmful to the LGBT community, including Norton himself.

As we were watching  Ford promote the movie, my husband wondered if perhaps Harrison Ford, Viola Davis, and Ben Kingsley (all three of whom I love and respect) were unaware of the harm done by the homophobic hypocrite Card.  Their ignorance of Card’s harm is quite possible, but this in and of itself speaks to a great amount of privilege that comes with obliviousness.

Sadly, Ford acknowledges the atrocities of the awful Card, but rationalizes and justifies the work by saying, “the movie is not homophobic.” I have considered Ford and the others to be allies of the LGBT community.  Sadly, even our allies have the luxury of retreating to the safety of the dominant culture and thus contribute to the oppression of LGBT folk around the world.

Orson Scott Card has referred to LGBT folk as “mentally ill,” and in his now famous essay from 1990  advocates making/keeping homosexuality illegal.  In 2008, Card actively joined the Prop8 movement and called same-sex marriage a “mortal enemy”  that he would seek to destroy.  Of course, he pulls out the pedophilia notion and tries to claim that homosexuals are pedophiles. He was a board member of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) until just recently and apparently resigned to minimize controversy before the film opened. The fact that Card asserts that paraphilia and homosexuality are linked, is evidence that this man is obsessed with man on man sex.  One wonders what is hiding in Card’s closet.  He and Ken Cuccinelli would make a great couple.

Lionsgate, the studio releasing the film, is pushing the “not a homophobic story” meme, hoping that the success of the novel will overwhelm the nastiness of its author. Card is suspiciously quiet, avoiding a screenwriting credit and avoiding the convention panels that an author would typically attend to promote a film. Even the details of his compensation are less public than usual. All of this smacks of an effort to quell controversy, so as to allow for greater income–income that will be used to hurt LGBT people.

Even if Card does not make another dime from the film itself, he has already profited from selling the rights. His books will sell because of the movie. He certainly will profit from the toys, games, and other merchandise. The more successful the movie, the more he is rewarded. For anyone who believes in fair and just treatment of the LGBT community, this is unacceptable.

Artists and their creations are separate things, and it is sometimes possible to appreciate a song or story or painting regardless of its creator’s personality. Sometimes however, the person overwhelms the work. Card’s steadfast efforts to destroy the lives of LGBT people around the world is such an example.

CALL TO ACTION: Boycott this film. Encourage others to do the same. Show the studios and moguls that promoting the work of a notorious homophobe is not profitable.

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Farewell Lou Reed, Pioneer and Activist

28 Oct
Lou Reed, 1942 - 2013

Lou Reed, 1942 – 2013

The music world was stunned yesterday when a rock pioneer breathed his last. Lou Reed, the outspoken chameleon whose contributions helped launch virtually every left-of-center rock genre, died of complications from a recent liver transplant. He was 71.

Lewis Allan Reed was born in Brooklyn on March 2, 1942. He learned to play guitar at an early age and performed in a number of doo-wop and R&B groups. He went to Syracuse University, studying journalism and film. After graduation, he did a brief stint as a house composer for Pickwick records before branching out into more avant garde and subversive sounds.

Reed is perhaps most famous as the co-founder and principle songwriter of the Velvet Underground. Noted for their work with Andy Warhol, the quartet’s four albums ran the gamut from raw noise to delicate folk pop, with Reed’s deadpan vocals featured on most tracks. Despite minimal sales, the band’s output was massively influential. Reed went solo in 1970 and continued to produce challenging music on a wide variety of themes.

Openly bisexual, Reed was given electro-shock therapy as a teen in an attempt to “cure” him. (He famously wrote about the experience on the harrowing song Kill Your Sons.) His songs were frank explorations of very real themes largely avoided by popular music to that point. He explored sex thoroughly, often championing the gay and transgender people he had met while working with Warhol in his songs. His finest album, Transformer, flirted with glam rock and explored gender and sexual identity in ways that were frank and playful both. (The album also produced his only real hit, Walk On the Wild Side, the first Top 20 song to refer to oral sex.)

He also explored addiction and its complications and wrote many frank songs about domestic abuse and broken relationships. While the content was often dark, it was anchored by his unremitting sense of humanity and deep-rooted optimism. Reed was an outspoken critic of the forces of greed and corruption and never hesitated to criticize politicians, other musicians, or the press for their shortcomings in working for a better world.

Reed was a tireless philanthropist, contributing to many causes. He focused on AIDS and LGBT issues (including work with Cyndi Lauper‘s True Colors projects) as well as support programs for children. He participated in the first Farm Aid concert and contributed to animal rights campaigns. After recording an all-star version of his finest song, the lovely Perfect Day, to help support the BBC, he agreed to release it as a single, with all the proceeds going to Children In Need.; the single raised £2,125,000.

Years of alcohol and drug abuse had taken their toll, and Reed was increasingly frail in recent years. After receiving a liver transplant in April, he seemed to be doing much better and spoke of his increased energy. Sadly, the transplant had some complications, and Reed succumbed after a brief illness. He leaves behind a legacy of frank speaking, activism, and musical originality that will never be matched.

Happy Birthday, Abigail Scott Duniway

22 Oct

AbigailToday Abigail Scott Duniway would have been 179 years old. Duniway is best known for her work as a suffragist and for founding the newspaper The New Northwest in Portland, Oregon. The paper was dedicated to women’s rights, including suffrage.  Sadly, Duniway did not live to see the passage of the 19th amendment in 1920.

While Duniway may not have lived to witness the passage of the 19th amendment, she did see and was responsible for the passage of women’s suffrage in Oregon in 1912.  Duniway was the first woman to register to vote in Multnomah County.  Despite great resistance from her brother Harvey W. Scott, who was the editor of The Oregonian, Duniway was asked by then Governor Oswald West to draft the suffrage proclamation.

Duniway wrote several books, but may be best known for her last non-fiction,  Path Breaking: An Autobiographical History of the Equal Suffrage Movement in Pacific Coast States which was published the year before she died in 1914.  How nice to see that Oregon was ahead of the curve and on the right side of history as we celebrate Abigail Scott Duniway and her work for women’s rights.

Good News in Oregon and New Jersey, While Rick Scarborough Foams at Mouth

21 Oct

MarrNewsNJORWhat a lovely way to start off a Monday morning with good news for LGBT folk who want to get married. Today marks the first day for marriage equality in the state of New Jersey, despite Governor Chris Christie’s homophobic protest.  To make this story even lovelier, Senator Elect Cory Booker, is performing same-sex marriages right now in his position as Mayor of Newark. Booker has made a point of not officiating weddings while equality was blocked in his state. A NJ appeals court had ruled that the lack of marriage equality was unconstitutional but stayed that opinion pending further legal action; the state supreme court lifted the stay last week noting that equality was legally sound.

More good news across the country in Oregon. Last week, the state of Oregon now recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other states.  Now we just need to achieve full marriage equality in Oregon. Despite a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, the Oregon Department of Justice released an opinion that a refusal to recognize out-of-state marriages was unconstitutional. The state COO immediately issued a memo requiring all state agencies to begin recognizing legal out-of-state marriages. Oregon United for Marriage is moving a marriage equality initiative forward for Nov. 2014; it is widely expected to succeed. The effort got a surprise boost last week when all three Oregon professional sports teams (the Portland Thorns, Timbers, and Trailblazers) endorsed the initiative.

While I certainly am taking time to celebrate this movement forward in civil rights for the LGBT community, alas we cannot rest here or grow complacent. Sadly, one of the  homophobic leaders of the Tea Party (Gays, Blacks, any non-white “Christians” not welcome), the odious Rick Scarborough, has announced that he wants to file a class action law suit against homosexuality.  Hmm, I wonder how that will work? Of course, he has partnered with the nefarious homophobic Peter LaBarbera.

It is clear that the Tea Party learned nothing from holding the country hostage during the Government Shutdown.  When will this small racist greedy group get it? Is there no chance of them showing any sense of decency or humanity?  Of course, I guess when your pockets are being filled with Koch money, there is less to motivate people to love rather than to hate.

Congressional GOP Gets Lost in Oz

16 Oct

ScareBoehner copyToday’s post will be greatly enhanced if you start humming the wishful tunes of Dorothy’s stalwart companions. The Shutdown has already cost close to 5 Billion Dollars thus far. As the government shutdown enters its third week and the debt ceiling looms, Republicans in the House and Senate seem to be searching for a brain, a heart, and some courage.

IF I ONLY HAD A BRAIN! Sadly, the longer the shutdown continues, the more absurd the claims of individual GOP Congresscritters gets. Initially, the refusal to fund the government was presented as a “principled” stand against the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare.”) When their bullying demands were met with stern resistance by Senate Democrats and President Obama, the House GOP got confused very quickly. They still stand for something, they assure us, and they’ll be sure to let us know what it is… as soon as they figure it out.

Almost daily, Speaker John Boehner hints at a new plan, lets a few details leak, holds a short press conference, and fails to bring anything to the floor. Apparently he left the shared brain with Mitch McConnell, who needed it to try to reason out a compromise that might pass the Senate. In the meantime, the usual crew — Ted Cruz, Michele Bachmann, Louis Gohmert, Mike Lee, and all the rest of the lollipop guild — keep changing their off-kilter tune. The fight isn’t really about health care (except when it is), it’s about the size of government (except when it isn’t). Forced to abandon their thinly-veiled racist rants against the president’s signature accomplishment, they just don’t know what to do.

IF I ONLY HAD A HEART! Members of Congress continue to draw their salaries while hundreds of thousands of federal workers go without. There’s still no guarantee that retroactive pay will be part of any deal. Even more dramatically, nearly SEVEN MILLION FTE worth of government contractors are without work during the shutdown and have no chance of retroactive pay. All this ignores the thousands of kids turned away from Head Start, the millions deprived of food, medical, and housing care, the thousands more who are just waiting for funds to run out one program at a time. If the shutdown continues to the end of the month, there will be no money to pay out Social Security or Veterans’ Benefits. And, just to prove how heartless they are, GOP leaders in both chambers of Congress are proposing to strip health benefits from their staff, driving them (ironically) to the ACA exchanges without an employer subsidy. You can bet all those staffers would like to drop a house on the leaders of the House.

IF I ONLY HAD THE NERVE! The media still spin this as a problem coming from the far right of the GOP (when they aren’t falsely laying blame on the President). It may be that the loudest voices from the fringe started the shouting, but in every vote so far the Republicans have voted as a tight bloc, more evidence of the GOP sharing one brain. All the so-called moderates have refused to stand up for what’s best for the country. In the Senate, the GOP managed to filibuster a clean debt ceiling bill. If there are voices of reason in the party, they refuse to speak. Sadly, the Gerrymandering of House districts leaves too many representatives sheltered from reality. GOP ratings in polls are dropping like the Wizard’s balloon but most House members can rely on at least a slim majority to return them to office.

CALL TO ACTION: We live in the United States, not Oz. We need elected officials who take their responsibilities as civil servants seriously and who govern with compassion, reason, and courage. Republicans should look seriously at their Representatives and find ways to support new voices in Congress that will bring true compromise and balance. Democrats should take courage and support challenges to GOP folks that seemed undefeatable. The people are paying attention, and the next election should be a clear message about what we really need.

National Coming Out Day: Visibility

11 Oct
National Coming Out Day

National Coming Out Day

October 11 marks National Coming Out Day.  For those of you who had any questions regarding my sexual orientation, allow me to put all questions to rest.  I’m a very proud gay man.  One might ask, so what? Why announce it? Why do I insist on being so visible? Why do we need a National Coming Out Day?

I cannot underscore enough the importance of being out and visible.  The more visible we are as a community, the more difficult it is to marginalize us and treat us as sub-human, or second class citizens, denied over 1,300 rights that our heterosexual brothers and sisters are granted just for being heterosexual.

Currently there are 29 states — over half of the US — where it is still legal to actively discriminate against LGBT folk.  Yes, in 29 states one can be fired for being gay. Not a big surprise that no state in the South has the slightest protection for the LGBT community. (There do exist individual cities that provide limited protection.)  I guess that wacky Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court decision from 2003 meant nothing.  Republican gubernatorial candidate in Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli, is trying to reinstate the sodomy laws their, so as to protect the United States from gay sex.  Poor Cuccinelli seems to be unaware that sodomy laws have just as big of an impact on heterosexual sex as they do “gay” sex. Again, it seems odd to me  when people  are so focused on gay sex. One might wonder what is hiding in Ken Cuccinelli’s closet. Click here to see if the state you live in can legally fire a human being for being gay.  Obviously, this puts people who are gender non-conforming at higher risk, not to mention the greater risk for LGBT folk of color being targeted.

I hope that today there will be much celebrating as people find the courage to use their voices individually and collectively to be Out and Proud as a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender person.  Living one’s life authentically allows for great freedom and of course supports the (tongue in cheek) Big Gay Agenda.

Congress Cashes In While Country Crashes

4 Oct

dimeI need to thank my friend Sarah B. for some of the research done here. If you are not outraged with the GOP/Tea Party, you are not paying attention. There is a great economic and emotional cost to this government shutdown–the brunt of the cost is being paid by the workers, the middle class, and lower classes of the country.  While millions of Americans in the United States are having to go without a salary and resources, John Boehner , Ted Cruz, and all the others drinking the Kool Aid are GETTING PAID while they devastate the country.  It is difficult to believe there is not a sad and disgusting thread of racism as part of what is motivating the Teahadists.

Let us look specifically at just some of the direct costs of this horrific behavior:

Furloughed Employees:

  • Over 800,000 Federal employees have been furloughed and will not be paid.

Head Start:

  • Up to 19,000 children are unable to attend head start programs, depriving them of early childhood educational opportunities and leaving their parents scrambling for childcare.

Cancer Patients Turned Away:

  • Cancer patients trying to enroll in clinical trials at NIH have been turned away until the shutdown ends.

No Flu Outbreak Monitoring:

  • Monitoring of Flu outbreaks nationwide has been crippled, with only cursory examinations and no “in-depth” investigations of potential outbreaks.

Assistance for low-income families comes to a halt:

  • The WIC program, which provides food assistance to families with children, has shut down. Some states are not accepting new applicants, and other states are running on reserves which will last mere days.

Colorado Springs:

  • Over 18% of the workforce in Colorado Springs, CO (55,000 workers) are on furlough and won’t be paid.

Highway Investigations:

  • Incidents like the deadly bus crash in Tennessee cannot be investigated because the staff at the National Traffic Safety Board are furloughed.

As of today, the cost of the Shutdown is now well over 1 Billion Dollars and all because a bunch of wealthy congressmen (who have full health care and are still collecting a salary) want to get rid of the much-needed Affordable Care Act, which they are calling Obamacare.

Here is where the GOP/Teahadists need to catch a clue and pay attention.  The Affordable Care Act is a huge success in just four days.  Millions of people are enrolling and for many this is the first time they have had health insurance in years. Enrollment is so vigorous that it is crashing web servers.  Now tell me again why the Affordable Care Act is a bad thing?

As programs continue to shut down when their existing funding ceases, the crazed militants in the House speak about the situation out of both sides of their Tea-holes. While many Republican members of the House laugh and call the situation “fun” and “the best part of my job,” others bemoan aspects of the shutdown that inconvenience them. (Yes, Rep. Neugebauer (R, TX), who publicly shouted down a park ranger who wouldn’t let him into a closed memorial, we’re talking to you.)

While it is great to see the President and the Democrats united in standing up to this bullying, the impact on the country is horrific. How long will the so-called “moderate” and “rational” Republicans be cowed by the fringes of their party? Until enough members of the House agree to do their jobs, the most vulnerable citizens of our country will continue to suffer.  Sadly, Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell (two Madhatters) were caught on mic with their despicable behavior.  Click here to see them.

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