Tag Archives: Russia

The Return of Concentration Camps for Gays

17 Apr

It is with great sorrow and disgust that I share this news story. I write it because we must take action and because the world needs to know what is happening right now. We seem to be intentionally ignoring the lessons we should have learned from WWII.  Currently, the Russian republic of Chechnya is rounding up men who are gay or perceived to be gay and putting them into concentration camps where they are being tortured, beaten, their hands electrocuted, and being forced to sit on bottles. At present, we know that at least three men have been murdered according to the  independent newspaper, Novaya Gazeta.  Of course, Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov denies these claims saying that Chechnya has no homosexuals and reported: “You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic.”

Sadly, Russia has a long established history of homophobia and anti-semitism. What is more disturbing is that our own government in the United States seems to be creating a parallel structure of hate, homophobia, racism, anti-semitism, and misogyny. The anti-semitism coming from 45 and his minions like Sean Spicer is not only embarrassing, but it is exceedingly dangerous! Since 45 became President (thanks to a lot of help from Russia) right wing racist and homophobic Christians have become emboldened to the point that they are now taking our country hostage and eradicating our democracy and replacing it with a KKKristian theocracy.

For example, the trans bathroom rights established by President Obama have now been repealed, putting trans-identified and gender non-conforming people in danger. HB24 just passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee in Alabama, thus paving the way to make it legal to discriminate against LGBT homes and deny them the ability to adopt or take in kids in the foster system. Of course, this all fits into Vice President Mike Pence’s agenda of establishing a national “Religious Freedom” law, which would allow for his perverted idea of Christianity to rule the nation and to discriminate against the LGBT community. Ultimately, this would mean gay/queer people must worry they will be denied services, denied housing, denied medical care. Yes, this is where we are now as a nation.

Take Action: We must stand in solidarity with each other and we must enlist the help and support of allies. We must make it known around the world that what is happening in the Russian republic of Chechnya is unacceptable. We must resist 45 and his homophobic administration at all costs! If you consider yourself an ally to the LGBTQ community, now is the time to make your voice heard.

Advertisements

45, Subterfuge, and Russia

24 Mar

Love’s Twisted Secret

Forgive my absence, but I have been experiencing such fatigue from 45 that there are days I can barely hold my head up. We seem to awake to a new disaster from 45 every morning, with his late night or early morning tweets.

Where do we even start to unpack the number of lies perpetrated by 45 and his administration? When do we as a nation say ENOUGH! STOP! Clearly, the morally bankrupt GOP are not going to put 45 in check, as he is implementing the pathetic agenda of the Republican party: stripping people of healthcare, fear mongering, normalizing racism, homophobia, and, misogyny. Sadly, if we impeach 45 we are stuck with people that are just as nefarious and just as sociopathic as he is.

I hear and read about the number of distractions by 45 and have come to my own conclusion that these distractions matter just as much as Trump’s connections to the Russians during his campaign. Sadly, we have at least 25% of the population that can’t be bothered with facts or science. The fact that 45 lied about President Obama wiretapping Trump Tower, the fact that 45 lied about an attack on Sweden, the fact that Kellyanne lied about a fictional Bowling Green massacre and made up a bizarre story that our microwaves are spying on us — none of this seems to be enough for the nation to put these people in check. Where do we go when the leader of the United States outright lies on a daily basis–lies that are so huge that I would think they amount to treason. You know it is bad when even the very conservative Wall Street Journal has had enough of 45 and his lies when they say: “The President clings to his assertion like a drunk to an empty gin bottle,” referring to the complete fiction about being wire tapped.

I also want to come back to this attempt at repealing Obamacare which will strip at least 24 million people of health insurance, including my family. What most thinking people have always known, it has become increasingly clear that the resistance around the Affordable Care Act was rooted in racism–that it was a product of that black president.

On to hypocrisy. The always morally corrupt Mitch McConnell, issued a mandate during President Obama’s tenure that the GOP would block any SCOTUS appointment. Regrettably and most embarrassingly for us as a nation, Merrick Garland was not even allowed a hearing. If we follow the GOP’s logic (wow–talk about oxymoronic) then would it not also stand to reason we should not even bother to entertain allowing the horrifically racist, homophobic, misogynist Neil Gorsuch a hearing while 45 is under investigation by the FBI?

Moving on to the myriad connections to Russian and the tampering of the 2016 election. The number of ties of 45 and his family and administration to Russian is more than just problematic–it calls into question our very democracy. And now sadly, I have to divulge a secret that I hope will finally produce an investigation that will bring down the reprehensible and hypocritical GOP.  Even Vice-President Mike Pence has connections to the Russians–connections that some might find less than savory. Pence has paid for sex with none less than the infamous Katya. Yes, Katya who seemed so innocent on RuPaul’s Drag Race, whom I so wanted to win RuPaul’s All Stars slept with Pence for money. Sorry to have outed this secret of Katya’s.

Oh goodness!  I feel a bit dizzy. The fatigue, anxiety, and fear of the past 60 days of 45 being in office allowed my head to be full of confusing facts. For a minute there, I thought Mike Pence was having sex with Katya. Dear Reader, please practice some serious self-care. We need to stay alert, in solidarity, and we need to find some joy and laughter!

Dear Donald: A Plea For Decency

19 Dec

trumpstampDear Donald:

How unfortunate that the only truth you managed in the past two years was that the “election was rigged.” Sadly it was rigged on your behalf. While I fear this plea will fall prey to your pathological narcissism and thus will not be heard, I make it nonetheless.

It looks as though you may be assuming the role of President of the United States. May I implore you to rise to the occasion — to comport yourself with the gravitas of the role of a world leader?  You are NOT representing yourself here, rather you are representing every person that lives in the United States. Sadly, you have “drained the swamp” (your words) directly into your cabinet and have caused great alarm for all targeted people and communities living in the US. This is not just about misogyny, but about how someone who demonstrates every day that his ego rules over all else and whose success is rooted in the oppression of women, people of color, the LGBT community, people with disabilities, and all of the intersections therein.

For you and your followers, we need something to prove you all are not racist, homophobes, misogynists, breeders of hate. Your appointment of white supremacist and homophobe Steve Bannon does not inspire hope. Your appointment of white supremacist and homophobe Jeff Sessions further deteriorates any modicum of trust in your judgement. Sessions who was declared “too racist” during the Reagan years is now fit to be in your cabinet? One can hardly take solace in your appointment of Rex Tillerson, the Director a US/Russian oil company, as the next Secretary of State–conflict of interest much?  In fact, every appointment you have made demonstrates great disdain for the office they will hold and nothing but contempt and disrespect for the American people.

According the the Southern Poverty Law Center, CNN, Time, The New York Times, and myriad other publications, hate crimes have increased exponentially since the election. Sadly, you have done nothing to disavow any of this horrific behavior. As such, your silence condones it. Your supporters have grown so emboldened that they are ushering in the New Fascism. Ohio has just passed some of the most restrictive laws that preclude women from governing their own bodies. Louisiana has now passed laws that declare LGBT protections illegal, thanks to eternal homophobe Jeff Landry.

Given the evidence of the intercession of the Russians to influence the election in your favor, I know many are now worried about war. Is this what you want to be your legacy? Your inability to understand diplomacy, the need for intelligence meetings, (I know you consider yourself “biggly smart”), your disdain for science and for education should alarm us all. This is where I hope I am categorically wrong. I hope we do not end up in another war because of you. I shall take no pleasure in telling your supporters that they have only themselves to thank for another war and the loss of human life for caprice.

Yes, while I suspect this plea will be wholly ignored, I also implore all people living in the United States to resist the New Fascism, for us all to stand in solidarity, to work together to ensure that your threat to democracy does not prevail. Mr. Trump, “Have you no decency sir?”

I shall end this letter asking everyone: who will you take action to stand with and harbor? Sweet Honey in the Rock: Would You Harbor Me?

From Russia with Love (?)

22 Apr

jews-must-register-or-face-deportation-ukraine-russia-donetsk-leafletGiven all of the vicious homophobia of Russia and its self-proclaimed Tsar, Vladimr Putin, along with the recent annexation of Crimea and the long-established regional history of misogyny and anti-Semitism, I’m starting to get a bit worried about a possible resurrection of a new USSR.

Last week I learned that following Pesach services a group of masked men (hard not to make a link to the KKK here) were delivering leaflets that instructed Jews to register with the city of Donetsk.  Jews were told they had to register to prove their citizenship and provide a list of all of their assets.  Am I the only one freaking out about this? Is anyone else thinking about Nazi Germany or the old Russian pogroms?

Despite the clear impression they intended to give, the masked bigots were not actually representing the Ukrainian government or the city of Donetsk.  They seem to represent a fringe right-wing group of bigots. Sadly, I can only imagine the trauma caused to these people coming out of the synagogue.

The tensions mounting in the Ukraine are unsettling at best. I struggle with how humans can make space for creating communities to thrive, and how do we prevent communities from being taken over and governed by an autocrat? Certainly, Putin has not been a friend to the Jewish community or the LGBT community. Now with his increased military presence in eastern Ukraine, this is feeling similar to Uncle Joe Stalin’s way of governing.

Cousin Vlad has made stirring speeches referring to “Tsarist borders” for Russia. Given the Crimean annexation, that should be terrifying for anyone paying attention. Do those borders include Latvia? Lithuania? Poland? Finland? Does the simple weight of historical maps trump over a century of evolving national identities, diplomacy, and binding international agreements? Putin seems to think himself a law unto himself. If he gets a nationalist surge behind him, where will it end?

By no means am I encouraging or endorsing we entrench ourselves in yet another war, but I wonder if it would be helpful for NATO to take a strong stand against Putin? The weight of history around how humans treat Jews and gays is very scary for me and I wonder with sadness, have these militants never read a history book?

Late Night with Stephen Colbert (?)

13 Apr

late-night-talk-show-hotsI subscribe to the New York Times on-line. Twice this week I received notifications that there was breaking news. My fear was that the “Breaking News” was something about the United Soviet Socialist Republic restructuring and that the Ukraine was now part of the New USSR — shades of Uncle Joe Stalin.  But, no. The breaking news was that David Letterman had announced when he would retire from Late Night with David Letterman.  This news was then followed up a few days later that Stephen Colbert was the appointed heir apparent.

So now we have witnessed two major late night television shows that have recently replaced their hosts.  I have nothing ill to say about either Jimmy Fallon or Stephen Colbert. What does sadden me is that we have all now experienced continued white heterosexual male domination in who we can see for late night television. Was there a dramatic shortage of  LGBT folk and women and of people of color, thus the only population to pull from to fill these two spots was white heterosexual men?

I am exceedingly sad here because I can think of a number of amazingly talented and exceedingly witty potential hosts who are black and or women.  Why not replace Letterman with Arsenio Hall? He already has a proven track record as a host of late night TV.  Why not give the phenomenally talented Mo Gaffney a try? I am hard pressed to think of someone who is equally witty.  Speaking of witty and amazing, what about Whoopi Goldberg?  What about Julia Sweeney — another personal favorite of mine, or Chelsea Handler who is leaving her late night show on E. I wonder if either network even thought about giving one of these shows to our Margaret Cho? Even the charming Neil Patrick Harris was floated as a possibility, but I guess gay folk only get to host daytime talk.

Sadly, NBC and CBS have already made their respective decisions — decisions that have demonstrated that Late Night Television is reserved for white heterosexual men only. I wonder when this glass ceiling will be broken.

Bigot of the Week Award, December 6: IKEA’s Russian Censorship

6 Dec
Bigot of the Week

Bigot of the Week

This week Sweden’s famous build-it-yourself furniture company went from big box to bigot box. The international company actually has a long history of LGBT inclusion, offering same-sex partner benefits regardless of the country where a store is located. They have included images of gay and lesbian couples in their advertising and promotional materials for years — including an ad in the US in the 90s that was very cutting edge for its day, up to this point, I say Bravo, IKEA.

Sadly, IKEA’s leadership has decided to take a giant step backwards. The current issue of IKEA Family Living, the promotional magazine given out in the stores, includes this feature about a lesbian couple in England and their son. Well, it includes that feature in every country except one.

Surrendering to Russia’s draconian new “gay propaganda” law, the furniture giant created a separate version of the magazine for its Russian stores. This is a blatant act of censorship and cowardice. Talking out of both sides of her charming salad bowl speakers, IKEA spokesperson Ylva Magnusson contorts like someone trying to assemble a folding bookshelf. Regarding Russia’s law, she says:

Our business is of course focused on home furnishings and we’ll be neutral.

In the words of the lovely and amazing Howard Zinn: “You can’t be neutral on a moving train.” What a sad dismissal of years of progressive business practices! Of course Magnusson tries to focus on that aspect, saying:

By being an inclusive employer, it provides both a better working environment and allows us to make better decisions.

But that, of course, is also a violation of Russian law, at least implicitly. The hypocrisy is palpable.

IKEA had a choice. They could have stood firm, running the very small risk that the Russian government would pursue legal action against a major international corporation. They didn’t. They could have made a point by depriving Russian shoppers of the magazine altogether, putting a “banned as gay propaganda” sign in the dispensers. They didn’t. Instead they made a callow, callous business decision, reinforcing a tragic law that damages millions of lives.

Badly done IKEA. No meatball for you!  I would encourage people to boycott IKEA at this point.

Kristallnacht and Veterans Day

11 Nov

kristallnacht-bannerSaturday commemorated 75 years ago that the Nazis started the pogroms throughout Germany and Austria. This night in 1938 witnessed a strategic attack on Jews.  Kristallnacht — the Night of Broken Glass — marks the event where Jewish store fronts,  homes, and synagogues had their windows knocked out and smashed.  Jews were rounded up and sent to concentration camps.  The world learned on this night that the Holocaust had now started.  The Nazis were putting into play their “Final Solution.” 

This part of history is exceedingly ugly and painful.  We witnessed mortal racism and homophobia as Nazis assigned yellow stars and pink triangles to those they deemed unfit to live — people like Gad Beck. Sadly, we are currently seeing a rise in anti-Semitism in Germany and Russia.  We are also seeing a rise in homophobia around the world, including Russia, which is hosting the 2014 Olympics.

Thank goodness for all of the veterans and all those that helped to end World War II.  I do believe these veterans are heroes; they fought to ensure that regardless of our differing opinions and beliefs, the one thing that should unite us all is our shared humanity. That bond values those differences and does not try to limit them or take away people’s rights.

Call to action: I charge all people around the world to look for the humanity we all share and to interrupt oppression when we witness it. When we hear anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, homophobic, sexist slurs, we must interrupt that oppression or we dishonor those who fought to protect and cherish our common humanity and strove to create a level playing field.  We also strip ourselves of human dignity when we practice any form of hate against people who are different from us or collude in our silence with the oppression practiced by others.

For young kids, I would recommend reading Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars.

%d bloggers like this: