Tag Archives: Hero of the Week Award

Hero of the Week Award: Sen. Chris Murphy

17 Jun

Chris MurphyThis has been an extraordinarily painful week for the LGBTQ community, in the wake of last Sunday’s massacre. If it is possible for something good to come from all of this hate, homophobia, and fear, I hope part of the healing will come from gun control reform.

Kudos to Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn), for leading the filibuster on the senate floor to expand gun control policies with two specific measures. Yes, this is the very least the senate can do in response to the massacre in Orlando. As a side note, I need to point out that this is also very tied into race, gender, homophobia, and misogyny. The Pulse was — and will be again — a safe space for LGBTQ people, mostly queer people of color. The United States seems to feel it is acceptable to regulate women’s bodies, why can we not regulate guns? Finally the NRA’s bedfellow, Mitch McConnell, has acquiesced and agreed to hold votes for the proposed amendment.

It grows ever wearisome to hear the call for prayers every time we have people murdered by guns. We do not need the prayers, we need gun control! Sadly, I have to offer a dishonorable mention to Florida Governor, Rick Scott, a.k.a Lord Voldemort. When reporters asked Scott if there was anything that could be done on a policy level to prevent future shootings like this, Scott (who has put forth enormous energy to relax gun control laws (there is no waiting period currently to buy the AR-15) replied: “We can pray for the victims, pray for the families and pray this never happens again.” How’s that working so far?

There are at least 27 reported gun deaths EVERY DAY in the United States. The AR-15 was used in the following massacres: Orlando, Florida–49 killed, 53 wounded; Aurora, Colorado, 12 killed, 70 wounded; Sandy Hook, Connecticut, 26 killed; Santa Monica, California, 5 killed, 4 wounded; Roseburg, Oregon, 9 killed; San Bernadino, California, 14 killed, 22 wounded. Maybe its just me, but prayers don’t seem to be doing much to change things. Maybe we need action, such as adopting expansive gun control measures? Want that to happen? Get out and vote!

In addition to Murphy, I want to acknowledge and give an honorable mention to the following Democratic Senators for finally creating significant resistance against the NRA and pushing for greater gun control policies: Richard Blumenthal, and Cory Booker (NJ),  Dick Durbin (IL), Bill Nelson (FL), Chuck Schumer (NY), Joe Manchin (WV), Ben Cardin (MD), Ed Markey (MA), Patrick Leahy (VT), Al Franken (MN), Patty Murray (WA), Gary Peters (MI), Bob Casey (PA), Ron Wyden (OR), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Jeff Merkley (OR), Bob Menendez (NJ), Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Claire McCaskill (MO), Mark Warner (VA), Amy Klobuchar (MN), Barbara Mikulski (MD), Sherrod Brown (OH), and counting. Yes, I’m very glad to see that both of Oregon’s senators were on this list!

The constitution is a living document and the flaws of the second amendment seem glaringly obvious. Given that no women and no people of color had any representation or voice in drafting the original document, it would stand to reason that this document needs further tweaking to represent more voices.

If you do not see your senator on this list, please contact them and let your voice be heard. I wish everyone a Happy Pride Month and let us not give into fear but share our love and solidarity!

Hero of the Week Award: September 21, the Toronto Blue Jays

21 Sep

Hero of the Week

Perhaps the homophobic tide is slowly turning in professional athletics. Just weeks after two NFL players made headlines with their outspoken support of marriage equality, a major league baseball team handled the homophobic actions of a player in a clear and decisive way.

Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar is known for writing slogans in white paint on his eyeblack. According to teammates and news items, most of the writing is “inspirational or motivational.” Last Saturday, however, the writing was neither of these things. The eyeblack (which comes in adhesive strips making it easy to augment with words or images before applying) he wore on the field said “Tu eres maricon,” Spanish for “you are a faggot.”

The outcry was swift. Escobar held a press conference with a lame “everybody says it in the locker room” defense; he then moved on to a “it doesn’t really mean anything,” sounding like a high school kid caught slinging the word “gay” indiscriminately. He also played the “lots of my friends are gay” card although he could only name his decorator and hair stylist. fortunately, Blue Jays management didn’t buy his nonpology. After consulting with the Baseball Commissioner, they handed  Escobar a pretty stiff penalty.

The player was suspended for three games and his salary for those games (equalling an impressive $83,000 and change) will go to two charities. The bulk will go to the relatively new You Can Play project, whose mission is:

You Can Play is dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation. […] You Can Play seeks to challenge the culture of locker rooms and spectator areas by focusing only on an athlete’s skills, work ethic and competitive spirit.

What a perfect choice! The balance of the penalty will go to GLAAD, another fitting selection. Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos described the decision clearly.

Taking away from all of this, there is a problem not only in sports but a problem in society, and how do we move forward to help with that problem? If at the end of the day the Blue Jays become a vehicle and Yunel becomes a vehicle to improve things and make them better, as unfortunate as this is, hopefully some good will come from it.

The management team also acknowledged their responsibility, noting that eyeblack writing is so common that it is often overlooked. They hope that this action will make players think twice and are instructing coaches to pay closer attention in the future. Nicely done, Blue Jays, and thank you.

Hero of the Week Award: August 17, Soledad O’Brien

17 Aug

Hero of the Week

I must confess that I have never been a fan of CNN.  I  have always found the network to be biased to the right and in the past six years it has in many ways mimicked Fox (Faux) News.  What a wonderful surprise and delight to see Soledad O’Brien engaged in real journalism and completely prepared with FACTS as she counters the LIES regurgitated by the exceedingly charm free John Sununu.

Sununu predictably offered the Republican talking points about the Ryan budget plan’s impact on Medicare.  The only thing that made his blatant lies bearable was O’Brien quoting directly from Romney.  I’m consistently amazed at how many in the Republican party try to deflect from the truth with the , “look over there, something shiny,” as their voices grower louder in an attempt to bully and intimidate. Sununu is clearly the school yard bully; kudos to O’Brien for standing up to him and holding her ground as a journalist — something exceedingly rare to witness today.

Click here to watch the video of our hero Soledad O’Brien.  Warning: Brace your self while watching the Petulant, Pugnacious Pig, Sununu.

I will conclude with an address to Mr. Sununu: Dear Mr. Sununu, I’m sorry, but there is just no way you can make Romney and Ryan look like anything other than the bigoted, homophobic, misogynist, rich white boys that they are.  You see, most Americans can read and hear and we can read and hear the words coming from Romney’s mouth, even after he tries to take them back — time after time after time after time…

Hero of the Week: August 3, DNC Platform Drafting Committee

3 Aug

Hero of the Week

This week the Democratic party took a major step toward endorsing full marriage equality. The Platform Drafting Committee is responsible for crafting the planks of the party’s platform for the convention in September. They met last week to debate which things to add or change in the platform. The 15-member committee voted unanimously to include marriage equality for LGBT American’s in the party platform. It’s been a long time coming. The draft platform will go to the full platform committee next week for approval and finalization for adoption at the conference.

Openly gay Rep. Barney Frank (D, MA) serves on the committee and made the announcement on Monday. While the exact language is not yet available, reports indicate that the plank not only supports marriage equality but specifically calls for repealing DOMA and adds support for a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). This would be the first time either major party weighed in positively on any of these issues–nice to see a party actually moving toward civil rights!

Blunt as always, the recently married Frank later expressed his surprise that the announcement got so much attention.

I was surprised that this got the attention that it did, because in this instance, it is not even a promise or a prediction of what the Democrats will do. It is an after-the-fact statement of what we have already done. President Obama has already stated his support for marriage equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. […] Equally important (as an exercise of presidential authority) is the president’s refusal to defend DOMA in court because it is so blatantly unconstitutional, as well as his articulation that any government action discriminating against LGBT Americans must meet a higher standard than the simple “rational basis” test. […] Governor Romney, of course, opposes the president on every one of these points.

While it’s true that the President and the party have made great strides in recent years, codifying these principles into the platform is more than symbolic. It signals a great step forward for LGBT-inclusive equality, and sends the message that we are not subhuman.  We are full citizens entitled to the exact same rights as our heterosexual brothers and sisters.

Hero of the Week Award: January 13, Transgender Response

13 Jan

Hero of the Week Award

Thanks to friend and LGBT ally Jenny Shaw for pointing to this week’s HWA.  In a very sad and unfortunate display of bigotry from 17 year old “Taylor” who is spearheading a boycott of Girl Scout Cookies because the Girl Scouts did the right thing by allowing a transgender girl to join, it is so nice to see this transgender girl’s response to “Taylor.”  Click here to this eloquent response.

Action: Buy some Girl Scout Cookies and support equality, civil rights, and the mission of the Girl Scouts:

Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.

Let us hope that “Taylor” grows up and one day embraces all of humanity, not just the parts she chooses.  For those young people who are transgender and need support, click here.

Hero of the Week Award: October 21, We Do!

21 Oct

Hero of the Week

Regular readers of TSM will know that I am not an adherent of any organized religion; in fact, the behavior of many “people of faith” toward the LGBTQ community has left me wary at best. What a delight, then, to be able to celebrate a movement within the Methodist church for this week’s HWA. The Methodist church itself retains an antiquated and discriminatory ban on marriage equality. Methodists In New Directions (MIND) has launched the We Do! Project in New York and Connecticut. Since both of those states practice marriage equality, the signers of the We Do! covenant agree to practice it within their congregations and implore the New York Conference of Methodists to reform its practices in the matter. In a delightful treatise which quotes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Methodist founder John Wesley, the members of the project lay out a faith-based defense of equality for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression. Impressively, the signers include active clergy as well as lay members of the church.

We, United Methodist clergy, in accordance with our ordination vows to “seek peace, justice, and freedom for all people,” commit to marrying all people, both gay and straight, who seek the blessing of the church, without bias or discrimination.

How wonderful to see these nearly 1,000 people (and more every day) signing on to change their broken church from within and practicing true love for all. The tag line on their banner sums up their message: “God welcomes everyone. So should we.” Bravo, MIND and We Do! May your efforts prevail.

Hero of the Week: September 30, The Rodemeyer Family

30 Sep

Heroes of the Week

It takes great personal strength and courage of character to turn a family tragedy into an opportunity for speaking out. This weeks heroes did just that. When Jamey Rodemeyer committed suicide on September 19 after enduring years of bullying for his sexual orientation, his family somehow managed to find time for their personal grief and to become outspoken advocates for the thousands of kids suffering bullying around our country.

Given Jamey’s own efforts to be a role model for LGBT youth, including recording an It Gets Better video, this is a wonderful way to honor his legacy. Traci and Tim Rodemeyer, Jamey’s parents, gave an exclusive interview to Ann Curry of NBC’s Today show, describing the circumstances of his life and death and the importance of stopping bullying. Their unflagging support of their son, even in the face of their personal tragedy, took great strength. Sadly, bullies at Jamey’s school didn’t stop after his death, but taunted his sister, Alyssa, at the homecoming dance. To her credit, Alyssa stood up and joined in the family’s message, inteviewing with Anderson Cooper.

I don’t know who would have the heart to disrespect someone even after they’re dead. It’s mindblowing.

This family’s sense of grief and loss is hard to imagine, yet somehow they have managed to honor their son with their words and actions. Taking a page from the Judy Shepard playbook, they demonstrate true courage and heroism.
Honorable mention, must, of course, go to our Laday Gaga, ever vigilant against bullying. She dedicated a concert to Jamey and took the opportunity of this tragedy to meet with President Obama about the tragic number of suicides that this plague of hostility has caused. Brava once again, Mother Monster.

Hero of the Week Award: September 2, Cher, Chaz, ABC

2 Sep

Hero of the Week

I want to thank my friend James Queale for inspiring this week’s HWA.  Apparently, ABC’s Dancing With the Stars will feature Chaz Bono–which seems perfectly reasonable to any enlightened and thinking person.  Unfortunately, bigots abound right now and said bigots are putting enormous pressure on ABC to kick Chaz off the show.

Fortunately, Cher has been tweeting and defending her son, demonstrating how much she has grown regarding Chaz over the past two years. Lacey Schwimmer, Chaz’ dance partner is also showing integrity by supporting him, “Everybody should just get over it and accept him as a human being.” ABC is also doing the right thing and standing by their decision. DWTS Executive Producer Conrad Green has said firmly in interviews that it is Bono’s personal story that made him a prime candidate for the show

It’s a fascinating story, his life in the last few years and the changes that he’s made in his life. He’s got a really interesting story to tell and that’s just one facet of it.

This week’s Hero of the Week Award goes to: Chaz for having the courage to do the show and thereby raise the much needed visibility of our transgender brothers and sisters, to Cher for supporting her son, and to ABC for not caving into bullying from right wing bigots!  Kudos to all three heroes!

Hero of the Week Award: August 26, Chely Wright

26 Aug

Hero of the Week

This week’s HWA comes with a hearty congratulations to country music star Chely Wright who married her fiancée, Lauren Blitzer, last Saturday, August 20. Wright was the first major country star to come out as LGBT. She did so knowing full well the impact it could have on her career. After years of trying to hide her sexual orientation, including a disastrous affair with the homophobic Brad Paisley, Wright decided in May 2010 to come out publicly. She cited the damage to her personal well-being from all the “lying and hiding” and her growing concern over all the bullying and suicides in the LGBTQ teen community.

She notes the irony of the country music community being so frequently opposed to homosexuality:

The thing that I don’t understand — the thing I find so … hilarious, actually, is the fact that the country music community, fine folk that they are (and that’s not sarcasm), openly supports and encourages things like alcoholism. So … being gay isn’t okay, but being a drunk is?

Since coming out, she has been a vocal LGBT rights activist and an articulate spokesperson for the community.

I hear the word ‘tolerance’—that some people are trying to teach people to be tolerant of gays. I’m not satisfied with that word. I am gay, and I am not seeking to be ‘tolerated’. One tolerates a toothache, rush-hour traffic, an annoying neighbor with a cluttered yard. I am not a negative to be tolerated.

Brava, Chely! Thank you for your bravery in coming out, your honesty in dealing with a hostile community, and your support of the most vulnerable LGBTQ Americans. May you and Lauren have a long and happy life together.

Hero of the Week Award: August 12, Charlie Cavell

12 Aug

Hero of the Week

This week’s hero is a young man who has – at the age of 20 – already committed himself to the cause of social justice. Charlie Cavell, a social work student at Wayne State University in Detroit, isn’t content to wait until he has his degree to start making a difference in the world. Wanting to get involved with the struggling Detroit schools (where he intends his someday children to attend), he ran for a seat on the board of the city’s new charter schools. After winning the seat, he put himself for president (and was elected vice-president).

Charlie has an infectious grin and an astounding energy and enthusiasm. Not content just to work on the schools in his adopted home, he also runs a Facebook initiative, Pay It Forward, the purpose of which is

working every day to partner jobless residents of Detroit with internships at non-profit agencies around town. This helps at 3 different levels! The unemployed person, the non-profit and the new clients the non-profit is now able to serve!

He was recently profiled on NPR for his hard work and lofty goals. A great representative of the Millennial generation, Charlie Cavell is the kind of engaged champion we should hope to see far more often and a fitting recipient of the HWA.

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