Tag Archives: bullying

Bigot of the Week Award, October 17: The Vincennes New Years Eve Ball

17 Oct

LincolnThank you to my friend and staunch LGBT ally Jennifer Carey for pointing me to this Bigot of the Week, a sad snapshot of just how far we have to go on the road to equality and why celebrations like National Coming Out Day are still very necessary.

Every year for decades Juniors and Seniors at Vincennes Lincoln High School in Vincennes, IN have been invited to participate in an annual New Years Eve Ball, with the restriction that the event is for “couples only.” Sadly, since 2004 the invitations have clarified that only “traditional couples” are welcome. Wow! That’s some harmfully loaded and coded language.

Just in case anyone was uncertain about that language, the charmfree Lincoln High School Super Straight Alliance has tweeted “We don’t cheer for queers!” and used the tag #StraightPower. So much for equal access at this public institution.

The group that organizes the party every year hides behind the fact that the Ball is funded by parent contributions and held off campus. Those facts do nothing to change the fact that the Ball is inherently bigoted and damaging to LGBT students. Invitations are distributed at school; the yearbook publishes pictures of couples at the Ball every year; the university that hosts the Ball is ALSO a public institution. Whatever defensive posturing and sickening sidesteps the hosts use, this event discriminates.

That’s the most important detail, making all the quibbling over who funds the event and where the students dance immaterial. LGBT couples are told they aren’t welcome, forced to accept that they are second class citizens. That damage is a lesson that will last for years after high school is just a distant memory. Bigotry is bigotry, even in fancy dress.

LGBTQ History Month 2014: We Have A Long Way To Go

1 Jun

lgbtpridemonth2014June is recognized as LGBT History Month, a time for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community to come together and celebrate who we are and stand in solidarity with each other.  We celebrate in June because it was June of 1969 that jump-started the Gay Liberation Movement in our country’s history with the Stonewall Riots.  While we have witnessed much progress in some areas, we still witness mortifying discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

In 1969 it was illegal in the United States to be gay and we were targeted by police for raids and put in jail.  Sadly, the LGBT community is still policed disproportionately and there are still 29 states — mostly in the South — where it is still illegal to be gay, despite Lawrence v. Texas. Yes, most states in the South have zero protections for LGBT folk, so one can be denied employment, denied housing, and denied healthcare just for their sexual orientation.

As much as we think It Gets Better, we still have a long way to go.  One wonders why we don’t have a better campaign that says: Make It Get Better, and put the onus on the dominant culture.  We know from the 2010 National Health Report that harassment and violence against the LGBT community have increased by 20% and the increase of violence is even greater for LGBT folks of color.

Sadly, this trend is international and shows no sign of abating. India’s new Prime Minister, Narendra Modi,  supports the country’s lower court’s ruling, once again making gay sex a crime punishable by up to ten years in jail and putting tens of millions of Indians at risk of prosecution or harassment. Look at the spike in protesting and violence in France that started as marriage equality began to work its way through the legislative process. Look at the violence in Russia and the Ukraine and the official indifference — or outright support — it receives. Nigeria just passed “All Gays to Be Jailed” law. Even in supposedly progressive Oregon, look at the hate and discrimination practiced near Portland at Oregon City High School.

The closer we get to equality, the angrier — and more aggressive — our foes become.  While I am elated that we now have 19 states plus the District of Columbia that celebrate marriage equality, I am also fearful that there will be an enormous backlash. How many of us are still reeling from the injustice to Larry King, the 8th grader shot in the back of the head twice and murdered.

Granted, our heterosexual brothers and sisters do have to live in fear of the Gay Agenda…

I want to acknowledge gratefully that DOMA has now been overturned, as has Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. We still have a long way to go because of current LGBT hate crimes and because of the impact of multigenerational trauma.

LGBT History Month provides a time and place for the community to celebrate and come together in “numbers too big to be ignored.” (You know I love me some Helen Reddy.)  I ask all of our heterosexual brothers and sisters to stand in solidarity and support all LGBT folk in the many colors and lives we represent. This is not a time to grow complacent. We must be visible!

Homophobia at Oregon City High School

18 Apr
Home of Homophobia

Home of Homophobia

I have to thank my dear friend and amazing LGBT ally, Jennifer Carey, for inspiring me to write this story. She actually heard about this sad news before I did. Yet another story that hurts my heart.  Once again, here in the self purported progressive Portland, we witness some very ugly homophobia. Even more sad is that this awful incident comes in the wake of the Farmers Pantry homophobic debacle.

This story has a lovely beginning. Students at Oregon City High School were honoring the National Day of Silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools.  Just to prove how much we need this Day of Silence, other students at Oregon City High School decided to protest, creating and wearing shirts that read: “Gay Day is Not Ok.”  I won’t even bother to link to the very hurtful homophobic interview one of the teens gave, but I will share some of  his words:

I don’t have a big problem with gay people. It’s just when they start parading around the school about how we have a day of silence for gays, lesbians, transvestites — it’s like, we don’t have a straight day!

Let us hope this young man will have a transformative experience in his life and will not be full of so much hate. Let us hope he will evolve. I also tire of the often heard heterosexual victim attitude of: “I’m not homophobic — I just don’t want to treat gays equally.”  How do we even address the ignorance of “it’s like, we don’t have a straight day”?  I hear this from many white people about Black History Month — “why don’t we have a white history month?”   Really people? Every day is white heterosexual day.

I contacted the school and tried to speak with Principal Tom Lovell about this incident, but he never returned my calls. I am interested in how he is addressing or not addressing this very serious problem.

The impact of this incident sends a very clear message that LGBT students are not safe at Oregon City High School. It also sends a message that LGBT people here in Oregon have a long way to go to being treated as human beings. We have yet another reminder that we LGBT folk must navigate the world with extreme care. I guess we cannot “parade” our lives in public like heterosexuals who are allowed to be who they are all the time.

Call to action: Here is an opportunity for LGBT folk and our allies to call Principal Lovell and ask that he address this homophobic problem.  On a larger scale, we have another opportunity to ask all schools in every state to create and enforce policies that help protect LGBT students from bullying and harassment.

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.

John Boehner’s House of Shame

30 Sep

Boehner_Hostage_xlargeJust when you thought the country was able to finally get the rancid taste from the Tea Party out of our collective mouths, the Teahadists have brewed a particularly wicked, hypocritical, and inequitable pot of tea.  John (I seem to have mislocated my spine) Boehner has yet again proven his dedication to erring on the wrong side of history. Twice in one week the House has passed a budget bill defunding the Affordable Care Act even though President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have made it clear that such a budget bill will never survive. Never mind that these nasty Republicans are acting AGAINST what is best for Americans and against what most Americans want.

Boehner yet again acquiesced to competing Madhatters, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.  This gang of school yard bullies have wasted tax payer money with their grandstanding and posturing in their attempt to hold the country hostage over the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Yes, why not deny millions of Americans access to health care? These civil servants (a term I use loosely with this group) do not have to worry about their own access to health care, but certainly are not advocating for those in need.

Let us also address how this greedy group of gangsters is impacting the economy. Without a budget in place, most Federal government functions will shut down on Tuesday. That means millions of workers will be furloughed and may never get their back pay. The ripple effect will touch every service these workers might use and every place they might shop. So-called “essential services” — air traffic control, Social Security payments, meat inspections, and such — will continue but most services will not. Even the things that will be funded will operate more slowly.

Ironically, many health services are considered essential. That means that by shutting down the government, the Tea Tainted Tricksters may actually ensure the implementation of the next wave of ACA measures.

The GOP’s increasingly strident demands to defund the ACA demonstrate how much they fear it. Polls and samples clearly show that as Americans understand what the law actually does — and begin to benefit from it — its popularity goes up. If it rolls out as intended, the Democrats have a signature accomplishment to campaign on in 2014. Bitter, bickering, bigoted, and blathering, the GOP has nothing but rhetoric and an insane hatred of the President to campaign on (racist much?). Sadly, they are willing to punish millions of true civil servants to make their pointless point.

Hero of the Week Award, September 27: Cassidy Lynn Campbell

27 Sep
Hero of the Week

Hero of the Week

Thank you to my dear friend and LGBT ally Jennifer Carey for inspiring me to write this article. Cassidy Lynn Campbell, a 16-year-old student at Marina High School in Huntington Beach, CA, was named homecoming queen last Friday. The remarkable thing about this everyday occurrence is that Campbell is transgender. She is the first known transgender homecoming queen at a U.S. high school.  Brava, Cassidy!

Campbell began taking hormone blockers and estrogen injections in high school to transition and has documented her journey in videos on her YouTube channel, LanceMize. As she started this school year, she decided to stand up for the transgender community and run for queen.

If I win it would mean that the school recognizes me as the gender I always felt I was. But with all the attention, I realized it’s bigger than me. I’m doing this for the kids who can’t be themselves… it wasn’t for me anymore and I was doing this for so many people all around the county and the state and possibly the world and I am so proud to win this not just for me, but everyone out there.

What amazing courage and dedication! Few people of any age would have the strength of character to make such a bold, public stand. Fortunately, the students at her school proved supportive. On September 20, blue and gold balloon at the school revealed her win. “I instantly just dropped to the ground and started crying,” Campbell said. Campbell’s mother is very supportive, calling her “wonderful” and saying “I never would have thought in my lifetime that I would see this.”

Sadly, not everyone has been so supportive. After the election was announced, she was subjected to bullying comments and feedback that she described as “ignorant.”

After 16 years of struggling, I finally do it and I finally am myself — thinking I’ll be so happy. It’s just sad that everyone has to be so judgmental about it, and so hateful, and so mean and so negative. I’ve never done anything to any of these people. And I don’t know why they have to be this way, when I’ve done nothing to them. It just hurts so bad because I feel just as much of a girl as all of them do.

Let us all send Cassidy Lynn Campbell our support and help her celebrate both her accomplishment and her wonderful spirit. She deserves happiness and success.  Let us also hope that Cassidy’s narrative is heard and we all stand in solidarity with her to help fight transphobia.

LGBT History Month 2013: Cyndi Lauper

24 Jun

cyndi  lauperToday I would like to honor and celebrate a fierce  and lifelong LGBT ally — a woman dedicated to civil rights for all and social justice, not to mention a personal hero of mine, Cyndi Lauper.  Lauper founded  the Give A Damn Campaign, which strives for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender equality. What a lovely voice of solidarity for the LGBTQ community.  Her activism is greatly appreciated and she uses her celebrity for the greater good.

Lauper’s True Colors tour — taking its title from her #1 ballad to being true to yourself –  is a wonderful spectacle of support for the LGBTQ community and for strong voices in the music community representing marginalized populations. She truly exemplifies the values she speaks. Activist neo-divas like P!nk and Lady Gaga owe a great debt to her bold example.

More recently, Lauper started True Colors Residence, providing housing for LGBT youth.  Yes, sadly, there are far too many LGBT youth who find themselves homeless after coming out. Announcing the facility, she stated:

These young people often face discrimination and at times physical assault in some of the very places they have to go to for help. This is shocking and inexcusable!

Lauper also successfully turned her many talents in a new direction with a recent Broadway hit. Director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell asked her to write the music and lyrics for a stage adaptation of the true-story movie Kinky Boots. Harvey Fierstein came on board to write the book for this story of a young man who recruits a drag queen to help him save his family shoe factory by designing comfortable and stylish drag footwear. Nominated for 13 Tony Awards, the show’s win for Best Musical may be the gayest Tony ever. Lauper became the first woman to win Best Original Score solo, adding another first to her list of accomplishments.

From the very beginning, Lauper has used her star power to help the under-represented. On her groundbreaking video for Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, she insisted that the performers be as diverse as possible wanting:

every girl who saw the video to see herself represented and empowered, whether she was thin or heavy, glamorous or not. I wanted women of every race.

She has used that same philosophy to great impact in her support of the LGBT community. Thank goodness for allies like Lauper.

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