Tag Archives: Safety

Tim Cook And The Big Gay Apple

31 Oct

Gay AppleThis past Thursday, Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, announced that he is in fact gay.  I need to thank my friend and LGBT ally, Jennifer Carey, for inspiring me to write this story. While there are some that have heard this news and have responded with “so what, how does this impact Apple?” I would offer that it is still exceedingly significant when a high profile person comes out. The more visible we are individually and collectively, the stronger we are as a community. For Apple, it sends a message around the world that Apple is a company that is safe for LGBT folk.

Safety, is no small issue. There are still 29 states where it is legal to deny a human being employment, housing, and healthcare just because of their sexual orientation. Cook’s visibility will be helpful to the entire LGBT community, as Cook seems to understand:

I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others,  so if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.

Well said!  I would add that Cook’s level of risk was minimal at best.  Sadly, the level of risk to be out at work is too great for too many of our LGBT family.  I hope today will be a reminder of how we can support people who are out and encourage people to become visible.

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The Most LGBTQ Friendly Colleges In The United States

8 Aug

GayCollegesThanks to my friend and LGBT ally, Jennifer Carey for inspiring me to write this story.  As LGBTQ people have to navigate with great care where they want to attend college, it is very important to know where one can look for a modicum of safety and hopefully embracing.  This week, The Princeton Review just released the list of the most LGBTQ friendly colleges for 2014-2015.  I must say this is a great resource for the LGBTQ community when looking at college choices.

Sadly, you must have a Princeton Review login to see their full report. The report was the result of 130,000 surveys from college students all over the United States.

The top five most LGBTQ friendly colleges in the US are:

1.  Stanford University in California

2.  Oberlin College in Ohio

3.  Emerson College in Massachusetts

4.  Smith College in Massachusetts

5. Warren Wilson College in North Carolina

While I am truly elated that there is a list of colleges and universities that are LGBTQ friendly, I also worry about those who cannot afford these institutions of higher learning.  I would also love to have seen a more granular break down of demographics.  How friendly are these schools for people of color in the LGBTQ community?  How do these institutions address systemic homophobia, racism and misogyny?  Finally, how do these institutions address economic justice? I do not diminish in any way the amazing, powerful implications for the LGBTQ community with this published list but I hope we know there is still so much more work yet to be done towards equity, Click here to see the rest of the story.

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.

Trouble in Paradise

7 Jul

By TSM Contributor James Queale

Now that summer is in full swing, it is time for a vacation. Since my partner and I are not wealthy, it is more of a local getaway, but it will still be a good time. Of course for any vacation involving a gay couple, you want to find an LGBT friendly zone (at least that is what I would prefer). Since Pennsylvania does not have statewide LGBT protections – and it will stay that way as long as Gov. Tom Corbett is in office — we had to research safe areas. The initial place that my partner wanted to go because he used to do regional manager work there was Wilkes-Barre, but it is one of the three (out of 15) major Pennsylvania cities without protections. So, we moved a bit further across the map to Scranton. Check!

Next we looked up hotel chains that are LGBT friendly and to our surprise majority of them are LGBT friendly. Check!

We barely make it to the movies because the small town we live in only has a single theater facility which rarely has a movie we really want to see and seems to have an unhealthy number of loud teenagers. One of the local theaters we found on Google maps was Cinemark, which had my gay-senses tingling. I did a little research and the CEO of Cinemark gave thousands of dollars to Yes on 8 campaign, California’s anti-marriage-equality measure. Thankfully we found another theater a little further away that does not have an anti-gay history. Check!

Overall I think this will be a fun couple of days to enjoy with my lovely partner Tom. It is sad that we have to be vigilant about where we go, but thankfully more and more companies and States are siding with equality.

P.S. – For the links in this story I just did a bit of online searching. There are also a handful of useful tools you can use:

  • The Human Rights Campaign has a shopping guide that rate companies by LGBT friendliness
  • Purple Roofs operates a website that certifies LGBT-owned and –friendly hotels and inns
  • Going out of state? Find out what protections (if any) are offered by the laws of your destination.

Enjoy the rest of your summer and travel safely!

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