After NBA player Jason Collins came out this week, there was a flood of support for his courageous move. Everyone from his family members to President Barack Obama and the First Lady publicly showed their support.
Of course there were the detractors as there always are, but they were most definitely in the minority. Breitbart blogger Ben Shapiro showed his bigotry by claiming it was no big deal that Collins came out. Shapiro found himself on the same side as the Westboro Baptist Church when they announced they’d picket his games.
And right on cue, a church in Wisconsin has shown their true (intolerant and ignorant) colors. Former Green Bay Packers safety Leroy Butler was scheduled to speak at a Wisconsin area church, but when that church found out he tweeted four words this week “Congrats to Jason Collins,” they cancelled his appearance.
Butler took to Twitter to tell the story.
“Wow, I was schedule to speak at a church in WI, and a member said that the pastor wants to cancel my event, I said ok why?”
“Then I was told, because I said congrats to Jason Collins on twitter, I said really? we have a contract, he said check the moral clause,
“FYI the fee was 8500$, then I was told if I removed the tweet, and apologize and ask god forgiveness, I can have the even, I said no,
“Only god can judge,”
I’ve always heard that the three most stressful things in a person’s life are moving, depression and planning a wedding. I’ve dealt with the other two, but this is my first wedding. I can happily say that overall, it’s been a very happy event. A few minor disagreements here and there, but overall it’s been pretty smooth sailing. Except for one little thing.
We all know stories and maybe even have friends who’ve experienced direct discrimination when it comes to wedding planning. A good friend of ours just dealt with someone on Etsy who refused to make a guestbook for them because Jesus didn’t want her to or something. And then there’s the story of the Washington florist. A gay man went to her regularly, spending lots of money and developing a nice relationship with this florist – all of a sudden, when it came time for the man’s wedding – the woman could no longer take his money. Having zero to do with marriage equality of course, and everything to do with that state’s anti-discrimination laws, the woman is now being sued by the state for violating those laws.
Those are huge infractions and those business owners who choose to violate state laws banning discrimination against gay people should absolutely be held accountable for breaking those laws. But then there are the seemingly little things.
With nearly every vendor we’ve dealt with (with the exception of the caterer who is located in Provincetown and services more gay weddings than straight) has asked us “who’s the bride” at one point or another. It’s an understandable question as I realize that gay weddings are a relatively new phenomenon. But it’s nonetheless a constant reminder of the fact that we’re still not “normal.”
Luckily, we haven’t run into any outright bigotry with any of our wedding vendors – so we feel very fortunate. But every time I see a form, or am asked for the name of my soon-to-be wife, it’s another conversation I have to have. But instead of feeling that shame I spent much of my 20s trying to get rid of, I take it to the next step and ask to speak to a manager. Or I simply make a formal request for that company to change the form and educate their employees.
From the time I was a little kid – every movie I saw, every book I read, every TV show I watched – featured straight couples, causing me to think there was something wrong with me. If by asking a company to correct a form or change their phrasing to “what’s the name of the other party?” or “what is your fiancé’s name?”, I can help stop someone from recalling those unfortunate feelings of inadequacy, I’m happy to do it.
At the end of the day, we’re in a very exciting time – it means more work for us – more calling out of the things that make us feel less than, and most importantly, more patience and assumption of good intent.
The guy who works at Men’s Wearhouse who asks me the bride’s name isn’t intentionally trying to make me feel bad that I’m not straight. But if I take a moment to calmly tell him that there’s no bride, but I’m happy to tell him the other groom’s name, he may stumble and feel awkward for a moment – but I bet he’ll think twice next time he makes that assumption.
Look, it sometimes sucks to have to be the ones who forge new territory, but at the end of the day we have an awesome opportunity to make the next generation of LGBT people feel more comfortable through some really easy conversations. Speak out when someone says one of those things that makes you feel less than. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to change their form so that it’s inclusive of you and your family.
Again, most often, there’s no ill-intent, just a lack of education or experience. It’s up to us to make it easier for the next generation.
When it comes to marriage, one of the final arguments of the anti-gay movement is “Why not civil unions?”
This week, Roger Gorley was visiting his husband’s bedside at Research Medical Center in Kansas City. When the ill man’s family demanded Roger be ejected from the room, Roger refused. He and his husband took part in a civil union ceremony 5 years ago and they also holds Power of Attorney for one another.
When the nurse was informed of this, she didn’t even bother going to look for the paperwork, she merely called security and had Roger removed from his partner’s bedside in handcuffs. Furthermore, the hospital has now taken out a restraining order keeping him from visiting his husband in the hospital.
The hospital released a statement which insinuates Roger was somehow putting people in danger or perhaps even reacting violently to being asked to leave his husband’s room.
“We believe involving the family is an important part of the patient care process. And, the patient’s needs are always our first priority. When anyone becomes disruptive to providing the necessary patient care, we involve our security team to help calm the situation and to protect our patients and staff. If the situation continues to escalate, we have no choice but to request police assistance.”
In 2010 President Obama mandated that any hospital that receives federal funding such as Medicare or Medicaid must allow visitation privileges for same-sex partners.
The fact of the matter is that not everyone knows what “civil union” means and this story is not isolated. For every story like this which makes it to the news, there are a dozen more for gay and lesbian couples who don’t have the resources to get their story out there. And in most states, if a story like that were to get out – someone could lose their job or be evicted from their home for being gay.
I live in Washington D.C. and I’m getting married in a month. If Sean were in the hospital and someone in his family were to try to make me leave, you can bet they’d have to arrest me too.
I got to go to the Macklemore concert on Friday night. If you want to hear about how that went, ask me, seriously, I want to talk about it until I die. The whole thing was great; but the best part was when Macklemore sang “Same Love.” Augustana’s gym was filled to the ceiling with 5,000 people, mostly aged 18-25, and decked out in thrift store gear (American flag bro-tanks, neon Nikes, MC Hammer pants.
After spending the past two days organizing and helping run the stage at the United for Marriage rallies at the Supreme Court, doing about a dozen radio interviews and holding my soon-to-be husband’s hand while Edie Windsor walked down the court steps, I’m tired.
Yesterday after the rally, Sean and I walked to the anti-gay rally and were surprised to find a remarkably tiny crowd and horrifically boring rally. The only fireworks were from a 15 year old gay activist being bullied by some adults in the crowd. I was able to take a few photos of the scant crowd before leaving (or being bored to tears). Thomas Peters of the National Organization for Marriage claimed 15,000 people attended the rally and NOM President Brian Brown claimed over 10,000. Of course, the pictures show otherwise and the Capitol Police count (you know – the people in charge of counting crowds) claimed between 1,500 and 2,000.
And then there’s science. You may have notice 1 or 2 or 1,000 of your Facebook friends have changed their profile photo to a red equal sign or some version of it. According to SpotCo’s media team:
-The photo was shared over 77,000 times just from the organization’s Facebook page directly.
-Number of profile photo changes to HRC logo estimated in the over 1 million.
-Big Brands jump on board to support. (Madonna, Beyonce, Martha Stewart Bud Light, among others…).
-People from 26 other countries chimed in for support – Japan being at the top of the list.
-Photo remixes estimated over 3,000 just yesterday
I spend my days working for the New Organizing Institute. I work with some pretty awesome people and I can be myself uncensored in the workplace. At NOI, we teach people about something called “Engagement Organizing.” And no, it has nothing to do with getting a ring on your finger or helping you sort your closet.
We teach people about how to get involved and stay involved in progressive organizing – fighting for the things you believe in. It truly could not be a cooler job.
One of the most important things we teach is that you have to take breaks and find ways to rest now and then as spending every day doing something you’re passionate about can wear a person out. A lot of people have jobs they can leave at the office – but when your job is fighting for equality and teaching people to do the same, it’s a 24 hour thing.
I’ve been tired as of late and just at the right time tonight, I got a little inspiration. I want to share with you a note I got on Facebook that took me by surprise and is just what I needed to move me to the next steps I need to get to. We don’t always see when we’re making a difference when we fight, but know for every letter like this, there are a hundred more that haven’t been written.
10 years ago, I was producing my very first benefit concert, barely involved in the LGBT movement, but doing what I could when I could.
Thanks my friend, for pushing me to the next mountain to climb.
I keep seeing your name pop up recently, and I couldn’t help but PM you.
You probably do not remember me… but I wanted to let you know that you saved teenage-me’s life many years ago.
Long story short, I had been going through a rough time while figuring out that I am queer. A friend of mine had been gunned down for being assumedly gay and I had been considering ending my own life out of fear of having the same outcome.
Your words had somehow convinced me that life does indeed get better, even for gay kids. That I would make it out ok and grow to love myself.
Here I am, nearly ten years after you saved my life. I have a college degree, about to accept a full time position working with special needs young adults, and an incredibly supportive partner of nearly four years. We live together with our insane little cat-child in a small town near very accepting Philadelphia.
I’m a very active voice for lgbtq rights in my community. I proudly perform with the local Freedom Band, and marched openly for the President in January with my partner and 250 proud musicians from all over the place. It was unbelievable, and something I would’ve never expected to happen to me.
In hopes that I can be a voice for that struggling teenaged-me amongst our youth that you inspired so many years ago.
I thank you dearly for your kind words and encouragement, and your fearlessness.