Archive | November, 2010

Thankful.

24 Nov

I’m sitting here, having taken a break from a bevy of baking and cooking for my friend’s Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. And I’m thinking about the things I’m thankful for.

We spend a lot of time getting angry, being hurt and frustrated over our struggle for Equality. We get very upset about complacency and laziness within our movement, about wrongheaded tactics and a lack of solidarity. So many of us thinking it’s not our fight to fight – and it gets exhausting.

So I’m taking this moment to be thankful and I wanted to let you know. I’m thankful for people like David Mixner who has been fighting this fight for decades and is eager to pass the torch to the younger generation of activists, full of love, support and guidance all the way.

I’m thankful for activists like Jay Carmona and Robin McGehee, Eric Ethington in Utah and Mike McKinney in Vermont, David Mailloux in Boston – all taking to the streets and organizing in beautiful poignant ways, demanding that our leaders be accountable for their promises and duties and teaching our community that there is strength in self.

I’m thankful for the brilliant allies who have stood up for members of our community publicly – our straight brothers and sisters and parents and classmates – they are the ones who make us more than a minority.

I’m thankful for my family who has been always-supportive, loving and kind and even making that extra step and bringing up Equality in situations when they know they may be judged for it. They don’t care. And it’s because they love me.

I’m thankful for the organizations that are doing work on our behalf, moving our equality forward in small towns, big cities and on Capitol Hill and the Oval Office.

But mostly, I am thankful for all the people who’ve taken the brave step to tell your story. We believe that it is through our own stories that we will find our equality.

So, we hope you all have a marvelous Thanksgiving, wherever you may be. We hope and encourage you spend some time around the dinner table talking about Equality if you can and we hope you can look around that table and be truly thankful.

Jamie & Sean

Of Sports and Gays

23 Nov

It’s an established truth in our movement that with higher visibility comes greater acceptance. As more people come out we change how the public views us and views the issues that affect us.

On a mass scale nothing can change perceptions like a high profile celebrity coming out. It starts conversations, both in the media and on a personal level, and raises visibility for our community unlike any other personal narrative we can tell. Lets face it: we live in a socieity obsessed with celebrity.

And we also live in a society obsessed with sports. From August to February its almost impossible to escape the NFL. Co-workers’ discussions, our social media pages, and schoolyard conversations are dominated by sports, especially those of young men. This is a great untapped resource and a fantastic way to change some minds and force conversation in this very straight world. Professional athletes coming out will propel our dialog forward. Just ask German soccer star Mario Gomez, who has urged his fellow players to go public.

Is the world of professional sports ready for openly gay players? Maybe not.  One columnist in the UK has doubts:

Is football in the UK even ready for a player coming out? I do not think so. The football associations and the clubs need to ensure that match day officials, both on and off the pitch, are properly trained and ready to recognise and appropriately respond to instances of anti-gay abuse.

John Amaechi, a retired NBA star who came out in 2007, writes:

Homosexuality is an obsession among ballplayers, trailing only wealth and women. The guys I played with just didn’t like “fags” — or so they insisted over and over again. But they didn’t understand fags enough to truly loathe them. Most were convinced, even as they sat next to me on the plane or threw me the ball in the post, that they had never met one.

It’s entirely possible that some male dominated sports are not ready for this kind of change. Do the governing organizations of the NFL and NBA have policies in place that protect the athlete? Is the gay player prepared for taunting fans, entrenched locker room homophobia, and discriminating coaches and staff? Or have we reached a time where these issues might be eliminated with a few pigskin-throwing pioneers? We won’t know until someone comes out and tests the waters.

Whether the macho sports world is ready or not gay athletes need to consider the enormous affect they can have on the national dialog. Do they have an obligation to do so because of their status? Certainly not. The same respect for privacy we extend to all in our community should apply to them equally. We all know it’s hard enough to be gay without demanding careers be put in jeopardy too. That difficult decision lies with the individual, though the opportunity to be a role model, advocate, and game changer is there. Even though their coming out can do enormous good, at the end of the day closeted athletes have no more obligation to do so than the rest of us.

We just wish they would.

Maybe then I’d show up at an NFL game.

Gays Most Targeted Minority in Violent Hate Crimes

23 Nov

Matthew Shepard

Disturbing news but not a new trend from the research of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). According to the FBI’s 2009 Hate Crimes Statistics report, gays and lesbians remain the most victimized minority in violent hate crimes (attacks on persons instead of property). Though the numbers are not broken down as such in the FBI’s report, SPLC does an excellent job of breaking down the numbers here.

Though there was a drop in overall bias crimes from 2008 to 2009, the study, as broken down by SPLC shows that from 1995-2008, gays and lesbians are anywhere from 2.4 to 13.8% more likely than other minorities to be a victim of a violent hate crime. These numbers are based on studies done by the FBI and combine not only the numbers of hate crime incidents, but our representation in society – the lesbian and gay population.

One can make all sorts of assumptions about why this is. Everything from backlash for our heightened visibility in the past years to an increase in specifically-religious condemnation of gays, lesbians and our families. There is probably blame to be spread throughout, however one thing is for certain – nothing will change if we don’t step up the education and enlightenment around our issues.

Minds are changing – families are being informed and ignorance around who we are is being thwarted everyday. These statistics are important, but we cannot let them frighten us into staying closeted. These things are happening to our kids, and they will continue to happen if we don’t continue to teach our friends, families and allies the truth about who we are – and who we love. Visibility is the key to acceptance, so keep walking tall, speak out against these crimes and continue to live your life openly and honestly – we will change this. We have to.

thanks to Shannon for the tip!

A Very Mary Holiday: Honoring a Friend

23 Nov

Next Monday, November 29th, I’ve been asked to present an award to my best friend, and I couldn’t be more excited. The 2nd Annual Broadway Speaks OUT! A Very Mary Holiday Concert will benefit the Ali Forney Center for LGBT homeless youth, and I’m giving the Hero Award to Tony Award-Winner Laura Benanti.

Laura in The Secret Garden World AIDS Day Concert

Not to give away too much (not as if I’ve written a speech yet), but just to give you a little history…I’ve known Laura for 8 years now and while she’s not the girl you see screaming in the streets for equality, she has quietly made a difference in a lot of people’s lives – especially mine. By being a supportive friend, by always agreeing to perform in every LGBT or HIV/AIDS benefit I’ve ever produced and by helping educate her friends and family on LGBT issues and equality, Laura has proven to be the type of ally we need to win this fight.

Please join Talk About Equality and Broadway Speaks OUT! next Monday night for a bevy of Broadway stars and performers singing out for equality!

A Very MARY Holiday will be presented Monday, November 29 at 8pm, being held at Dixon Place. The starry benefit will be hosted by Marti Gould Cummings, and boasts the ferocious talents of Kate Shindle (Legally Blonde) , John Arthur Greene (West Side Story), Matt Doyle (Bye Bye Birdie, “Gossip Girl”), Matt Shingledecker (West Side Story), Danny Calvert, The Broadway Dolls, Annie Golden (The Full Monty), Michelle Dowdy (Hairspray), Brian Charles Rooney (Three Penny Opera), Tracy McDowell (Rent), Malan Breton (Project Runway), Chase Davidson (Spring Awakening), Krystina Alabado (Spring Awakening), Scott Nevins (truTV’s The Smoking Fun Presents), Kate Pazakis, Megan Reinking, Alex Ellis, Taylor Mac, Marcus Simione, Composer Scott Alan, The Broadway Boys and Ryan Nickulas and TJ Kelly (Logo’s A-List NY) . Orfeh (Legally Blonde) and other broadway stars will film special video messages for the evening. Author, political strategist, and civil right’s activist, David Mixner will be the night’s Keynote Speaker.

Drexel D. Heard II, serves as the evening’s Director, with Kristen Lee Rosenfeld (Music Director), Brad

Laura, Me (with more hair) and her Mom, Linda at the Embrace Concert for the Matthew Shepard Foundation

Gardner (BSO’s Music Director), and John Murdock (Production Stage Manager).

Tony Award winner Laura Benanti, currently appearing on Broadway in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, will be this year’s Broadway Speaks OUT! Hero Award Honoree.

The evening is being Produced by Broadway Speaks OUT! and Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights Aids, and sponsored by Gay City News, GIVEN Liqueur, Dixon Place, Ferality Show, and Talk About Equality.

*Performers are performing with special permission from Actors Equity Association*

Tickets can be purchased at https://www.ovationtix.com/trs/pe/8505685

For more information please visit www.broadwayspeaksout.com

 

PHOTOS: No One is Alone – Trevor Project Benefit

23 Nov

So many communities have spoken out to LGBT kids in recent weeks, and tonight the Broadway community came out in full-force at the special benefit event for The Trevor Project called “You Are Not Alone.” The concert featured performances from some of Broadway’s best, led by Tony Award-Winner Betty Buckley. Talk About Equality was there to document the evening. Enjoy the photos, and please make sure you consider The Trevor Project in your holiday giving. Thanks to all those involved for a remarkable evening.

Lea Delaria

Seth Rudetsky

Lisa Kron

Erin Quill

Marc Kudisch

John Tartaglia

Aaron Lazar

 

 

Max von Essen

Betty Buckley

Betty Buckley

Andrew Keenan-Bolger

Adam Wachter

Kate Pazakis

Jeff Blumenkrantz

The Trevor Project's Johnny Cooper and Joe Lodato

All photos copyright Jamie McGonnigal, TalkAboutEquality.com

Sending Love to Queen of the LGBT Blogs, Pam Spaulding

22 Nov

The brilliant Pam Spaulding of the aptly-named PamsHouseBlend.com is undergoing surgery today and we wanted to participate in the blogswarm of love being sent her way.

She’s been an incredible leader in the LGBT movement and we need her back on her feet ASAP so she can keep up her inspirational work on and offline. I met Pam only once, briefly at the Courage Campaign’s “Camp Courage” down in DC the day before the National Equality March and I can’t wait to see her again!

Please take a minute to send some thoughts and prayers her way for a speedy recovery! Thanks Pam, for all you do! Get better soon!

Be a Gay Santa for Homeless LGBT Youth

18 Nov

There’s a problem we don’t talk enough about. There’s an issue that we, as LGBT people seem to ignore while we are fighting to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. There’s something we are missing when we discuss the teens around the country that are taking their own lives.

We sometimes forget the survivors.

Statistics are numbers, something you can read and feel bad or good about and move on. They can be staggering or heart-wrenching and when I tell you the next statistic, it should shock you, but it may not.

According to the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, of the 1.6 million homeless American youth, as much as 40% of them identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Many of these kids were kicked out of their homes after coming out, many realized they couldn’t live at home openly and so the only choice was to run away. Either way, these are our kids. They are our responsibility. Many have been left without parents who want to know or understand them and without a single positive role model in their lives.

Cyndi Lauper’s phenomenal Give a Damn! campaign released this star-studded video today, featuring Susan Sarandon, Alan Cumming, Rebecca Romijn, Eden Reigel and Pete Wentz:

And just this week, we read about an organization called New Alternatives for LGBT Homeless Youth. According to their website,

“The mission of the organization is to increase the self-sufficiency of homeless LGBT youth to enable them to “go beyond” the shelter system. We intend to do this by providing case management, community organizing, life skills groups, community-building recreational activities, and, in the long-term, supported employment opportunities. Our guiding principles are those of harm reduction, youth development, and empowerment.”

They’ve launched an incredible campaign that we all can take part in and we wanted to let you know about it. They are looking for 150 Secret Santas for this holiday season, and we here at Talk About Equality have just put on our big red hat and fluffy white beard to take part. Please read about the campaign and take part in any way you can. If you can’t afford it on your own, get a few friends together to be a Santa to one of these kids who won’t have a holiday without you.

This is a chance to make a small difference in one of OUR children’s lives. take it.

Here’ s how it works:

1) Sign up to receive a letter written by a homeless LGBT youth requesting a gift (requests are limited to items of $100 in value or less)

2) Purchase the item and mail it or drop it off before 12/22/10

3) Your young person will receive the gift at the New Alternatives Christmas Party on 12/23/10

Please email kate@newalternativesnyc.org if you are interested in being a Santa this year.

Please share this wherever you can.

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