Archive | October, 2011

What if your parents were gay?

25 Oct
Our conversations that have been pushing our movement forward so expediently most frequently revolve around rights and protections for ourselves. The conversation is most always focuses on why we can’t get married, violence against us or own rejection from our families, friends and society. It’s time for the conversation to change.

The Family Equality Council and Center for American Progress released a new MAP (Movement Advancement Project) study today which is the first comprehensive and thorough study of LGBT-headed families in the United States. Their findings not only change the conversation, but they blow apart the last walls of defense for those who continue to propagate bigotry and hatred.

The most devastating conclusion found in the report, which needs to be shared around this country – is that the discriminatory laws of this country are actually harming children. Here is a sampling of some of the staggering statistics:

  • There are up to 2 million children in this country being raised by LGBT parents.
  • Across 18 years, sams-sex parents will have an added $219,262 financial burden which heterosexual parents will not have.
  • Children of binational parents live in fear that one of their parents may be deported.
  • Children of LGBT parents may be denied health insurance if a parent’s employer requires documentation of legal adoption in a state which does not allow same-sex parent adoption.
  • LGBT parents may not be able to take time off work to care for a sick child or spouse under the Family Medical Leave Act.
  • LGBT families are more than twice as likely to live in poverty.
  • 18 states treat LGBT partners and non-adoptive parents and their children as legal strangers. This means if a parent has to take a child to the hospital, they have no right to make medical decisions.
  • Children of LGBT parents are denied financial protections should a parent die or become disabled.

These and many other findings in this groundbreaking report have the capacity to become game-changers. With a half-million children in this country living in foster care and 30 years of competent research stating that children of same-sex parents are just as happy, healthy and well adjusted as those from heterosexual parents, the laws need to change.

Those who so frequently claim that they are “fighting to protect children” as their primary defense of heterosexual-only marriage, can no longer claim that. We now have the facts to support the opposite. This is no longer about us working for our equality. This is about our children who face devastating inequality through no action of their own.

The Family Equality Council has put together a comprehensive website which includes not only the findings of the report, but the next action steps we can take to be certain this report is getting the attention it needs.

On the site, there is a place for LGBT families to “Tell Your Story.” I highly recommend that if you or someone you know is an LGBT family, that you take advantage of this. It is through stories like these, that we will best see these gross inequalities represented. Nothing is going to change if no one knows something is wrong.

Please enjoy the photos below from this morning’s panel on LGBT families and please share the following video wherever you can:

Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler

Jeff Krehely, Center for American Progress

Jonathan Capehart

Bryan Samuels

Jennifer Chrisler, Family Equality Council

The panel on LGBT Families

Jonathan Capehart

Jennifer Chrisler, Family Equality Council

Bryan Samuels

Jennifer Chrisler, Family Equality Council

Ineke Mushovic, Movement Advancement Project (MAP)

Ineke Mushovic, Movement Advancement Project (MAP)

Jeff Krehely, Center for American Progress

Aisha Moodie-Mills, Center for American Progress, Jennifer Chrisler, Family Equality Council

Reverend Dennis Wiley

Jeff Friedman, Andrew Zwerin and their son Josh with Pulitzer Prize-winner Jonathan Capehart

Lesbian College Student Bullied by Anti-Gay Professor in Class

17 Oct

Christina Santiago

A lesbian student at Indiana University in Pennsylvania was verbally attacked by her professor due to her sexuality. Christina Santiago, a student at the university’s Eberly College of Business Information and Technology was in class when the discussion turned to homosexuality.

The unidentified professor then took it upon herself to go on a diatribe stating “homosexuals are disgusting, unnatural and abnormal.” When Santiago raised her hand and identified herself as a lesbian, she asked the professor if she was referring to students like herself. The professor responded “Yes, God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Adam.”

Students on the campus have started to rally in support of tolerance and the school and teacher’s unions have yet to comment on the matter, merely stating that they are investigating the situation.

One must wonder firstly how a moral discussion of sexuality came up in a business class. Secondly, someone needs to tell the teacher that it’s “Adam & Steve,” not “Adam & Adam.”

Happily, it seems as though Christina has a great deal of support in coming forward with her story. Let’s hope the school and teacher’s union both take action on this serious case of discrimination and bullying.

Watch the news story here

Zachary Quinto: “it is my intention to live an authentic life of compassion and integrity and action.”

16 Oct

Zachary Quinto

I first met Zachary Quinto at Bar Centrale on 46th Street in New York City. He was already fairly well-known for his work in HEROES, so it was exciting to meet him while he was surrounded by several friends of mine. While I can’t say we ever got to know each other, it’s been thrilling to see his career take off.

Then last year, I had the pleasure of seeing him in Angels in America at the Signature Theatre off-broadway. His portrayal of a gay man who abandons his boyfriend who is dying from AIDS was riveting. While it was never said aloud among my circle of friends, it was known that he was gay.

As he has become more and more famous in the past few years, I couldn’t help but wish he would come out publicly. It’s obvious with his body of work (HEROES, Star Trek), that he has a great many young fans and it’s that group of young people who need to hear now more than ever – that there’s nothing wrong with being gay, that one can be successful, intelligent and happy as a gay man, and (to quote the recently departed Frank Kameny) “Gay is Good.”

Today in a New York Magazine profile, Zachary has done just that.

‘For one thing, he’s willing to unambiguously talk about his sexual orientation. His eight-month role in Angels was both “the most challenging thing I’ve ever done as an actor and the most rewarding” he says. Having to inhabit that terrible lost world, if only in his mind, took a toll. “And at the same time, as a gay man, it made me feel like there’s still so much work to be done, and there’s still so many things that need to be looked at and addressed.”’

Zachary’s blog goes on to explain further as to why he is making the choice to no longer be quiet about his sexual orientation. His words are poignant and exquisitely said. We can hope that other celebrities follow in his footsteps and realize that their fame and honesty can make an enormous life in the difference of millions of kids growing up LGBT. Here’s his blog posting:

“when i found out that jamey rodemeyer killed himself – i felt deeply troubled.  but when i found out that jamey rodemeyer had made an it gets better video only months before taking his own life – i felt indescribable despair.  i also made an it gets better video last year – in the wake of the senseless and tragic gay teen suicides that were sweeping the nation at the time.  but in light of jamey’s death – it became clear to me in an instant that living a gay life without publicly acknowledging it – is simply not enough to make any significant contribution to the immense work that lies ahead on the road to complete equality.  our society needs to recognize the unstoppable momentum toward unequivocal civil equality for every gay lesbian bisexual and transgendered citizen of this country.  gay kids need to stop killing themselves because they are made to feel worthless by cruel and relentless bullying.  parents need to teach their children principles of respect and acceptance.  we are witnessing an enormous shift of collective consciousness throughout the world.  we are at the precipice of great transformation within our culture and government.  i believe in the power of intention to change the landscape of our society – and it is my intention to live an authentic life of compassion and integrity and action.  jamey rodemeyer’s life changed mine.  and while his death only makes me wish that i had done this sooner – i am eternally grateful to him for being the catalyst for change within me.  now i can only hope to serve as the same catalyst for even one other person in this world.  that – i believe – is all that we can ask of ourselves and of each other.”

Congrats, Zachary and thank you for opening the door for so many young people to begin a journey filled with more hope than they may have had yesterday.

Pastor Fired for Linking to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Story on Facebook

14 Oct

With so many stories of anti-gay teachers posting hateful things on their facebook walls, and a new campaign launched by the National Organization for Marriage, aiming to make victims out of bigots and defending their right to practice hatred towards LGBT people, you’d expect better when the tables were turned.

Blogger John Shore received a troubling email a few nights ago. A straight pastor who is married with 3 kids (and one on the way) was fired after posting a link to an article about the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell on his facebook wall. The pastor is receiving a severance package from the church, but that will end should he speak out publicly about his firing. With a large family and a baby due in December, unfortunately, losing his severance is not an option.

The pastor’s email said (in part):

“…Four weeks ago the discriminatory law of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was finally abolished. Even though no one in my church community was aware of my views on homosexuality (I have been intentionally tight-lipped about it, knowing how divisive that issue is), and I’ve never talked about it, I felt like it was good to celebrate the end of discrimination. So I posted a link to an article about the end of DADT on my Facebook page. I made no commentary on the article–which was not about the “issue” of homosexuality at all…”

“Over the next few hours, several people from my church started commenting on my wall: “How can a Christian be pro-homosexuality?” “Why is a pastor actively promoting the gay-lifestyle?” and so on. Even more people were calling/texting/emailing our lead pastor and the chair of our elder board.”

“What resulted over the next six days was not fun. The chair of the elder board called for an emergency board meeting to deal with me. I was summoned to the board meeting, where I was forced to give my stance on homosexuality (even though the church has no official stance on the matter, and has never before talked about the issue). And even though I reminded them that we all agree on our church’s statement of faith, ultimately, when they learned that I don’t view homosexuality as a sin, and that I would be in favor of two gay people being allowed to get married, they came to the conclusion that I was unfit to be a pastor at [Name of Church]. And within a week of posting the article on FB page, I was fired from a church I’d served faithfully and helped to build for five years…”

“…Right now, three weeks after being fired, I have so many conflicting emotions. I’m devastated at being fired. I’m angry at the process by which it was done. I was just eliminated almost immediately. In the eyes of the church body and the staff I essentially just disappeared. I was there one week, and not the next. It’s made me feel like a leper, like someone who committed some heinous sin and had to be “dealt” with. I’m disappointed that the church I’d loved and served and believed in ultimately came up short. I desperately wanted [Name of Head Pastor] to stand by me, and say to the board and to the negative people in the church, “[Guy's Name] and I agree on what it means to follow Jesus. We agree on the essentials of the faith. And we have done ministry together for five years, and I want to continue to serve alongside him. We disagree on things, on non-essential elements of the faith–and you know what? That’s okay! We celebrate our unity in the faith, and we welcome different viewpoints and beliefs.” That’s what I wanted; that’s what I hoped for…”

I can’t help but wonder (if the pastor could come forward) if Maggie Gallagher and the National Organization for Marriage would stand up for this man’s 1st amendment rights? Or are they only committed to those rights if they are protecting bigots who refuse to do their jobs and teach children intolerance and hatred?

PHOTOS: Queer as Folk’s Clunie and Supermodel Kroell Visit DC for GLAAD Panel

13 Oct

Last night, at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium, GLAAD’s DC Leadership Council in cooperation with the Reel Affirmations LGBT Film Festival presented “Out of the Closet and on to the Screen: A Generation of Queer Film.”

The panel was moderated by award-winning journalist Chris Geidner and featured Ronnie Kroell - Star of Bravo’s Make Me a Supermodel, June 2010 Playgirl Cover Model, films – Eating Out: Drama Camp, Into the Lion’s Den, Michelle Clunie Queer as Folk, Make It or Break It, Brad Bell – star and writer of “Husbands,” Bob Mondello – National Public Radio’s Arts Critic, and Stephen L. Forssell - GWU Lecturer, LGBT Family Research Expert and GW student filmmaker of I Am Sara Snyder.

The discussion was thorough and covered everything from the first appearance of gay people on film to the evolution of gay film on the internet. Please enjoy our photos from last night. All photos copyright Jamie McGonnigal, EqualityPhotography.com.

Please Take Our Coming Out Reader Survey!

11 Oct

Please take a moment to take our reader survey! We’re trying to find out just who is visiting our site and hear a little bit about how you came out (as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, straight ally and everything in between).

Just click here:

How One Person Coming Out Can Change the World

11 Oct

Raymond Miller (photo by Jamie McGonnigal, EqualityPhotography.com)

It is my belief that a pretty large majority of the people who read this blog have come out to their families and friends. Many of you are also out at work, at church, to your local businesses and everyone you meet. And some of you may read this blog and others like it as your only outreach to the LGBT community.

Today is National Coming Out Day and we want to be certain that our readers understand the importance of being out. We’ve created a little survey of our own here that we’d love for you to take so we can get an idea of who’s reading and some of your stories.

In 2009, Gallup conducted a survey which told us many things, but primarily it told us that those who know us, are far more likely to vote for our equality. On the question of marriage, the number of those who do not think we should have marriage equality dropped from 72% to 47% among respondents who didn’t know vs. those who knew someone who is gay or lesbian.

With simple acceptance of our relationships, those who didn’t personally know someone who is gay or lesbian, 57% said that our relationships should be illegal. Among those who said they personally knew one of us, that number dropped to 29%:

A good friend once asked me if there was anyone in my family that didn’t know I was gay. I told him that my grandmother didn’t know because she was so old and why would I upset her at her age? He simply asked: “Does she vote?” Yes, she did. If these numbers are correct, than it tells us that people may vote for us nearly 2-to-1 when they know one of us (as Harvey Milk once said).

But it goes farther than that. A few years ago, I asked friends on facebook to use their Thanksgiving family gatherings to tell their families who they are. And to those who were already out, to use the time around the table to ask their families to do more. We need allies, so asking your families and friends to be not only allies, but advocates for your equality can double or triple the number of people affected by your coming out.

That Christmas, I went home and was doing my Christmas Eve gift wrapping with my sister-in-law. There was a brief pause in our conversation and she said “You know, I did what you asked me to do and I brought up gay marriage with some co-workers.” She went on to say she was “surprised” by some of her co-worker’s attitudes on equality, but continued to discuss it nonetheless. Did she change everyone’s minds just by bringing it up? Probably not. But is it possible she made some people think about what equality really means to them and perhaps consider voting for it? It’s very likely.

When the Gallup survey came out, Andrew Sullivan used it as a rallying cry so that people would “accelerate the coming-out process.” It’s clear that coming out makes a difference in how people vote and that those still living in the closet can actually hurt our progress. The Christian Anti-Defamation Commission used the Gallup survey to ask Christians to stop knowing gays and lesbians. Because hey, if you don’t know us, you won’t vote for us, right? It’s this kind of bigoted rhetoric which causes statistics like the nearly 1/3 of all homeless teens being LGBT.

So, we are issuing this request. Challenge yourself. If there is anyone in your life that you are not out to, and you can safely come out to, do it. You don’t have to do it today (despite the awesomely perfect excuse you have today), but make a commitment today and give yourself a deadline to tell everyone in your life who you are – including your banker and dry cleaner – they vote too.

 

Meet Ronnie Kroell: Playgirl Cover Model, Actor, Activist and in DC This Week!

10 Oct

Ronnie Kroell in June 2010's Playgirl Magazine

On Wednesday, October 12th at 7pm, the GLAAD DC Leadership Council in cooperation with Reel Affirmations is proud to present Out of the Closet and Onto the Screen: A Generation of Queer Film. Happily, both writers on this site sit on the Leadership Council and  are thrilled to be helping with this event.

Moderated by MetroWeekly’s Chris Geidner, the star-studded panel is scheduled to include Ronnie Kroell - Star of Bravo’s Make Me a Supermodel, June 2010 Playgirl Cover Model, films – Eating Out: Drama Camp, Into the Lion’s Den,  Michelle Clunie – Queer as Folk, Make It or Break It, Bob Mondello – National Public Radio’s Arts Critic, and Stephen L. Forssell - GWU Lecturer, LGBT Family Research Expert.

We spoke to our friend, Ronnie Kroell about his own history, his career as an out actor and model and the premiere of his film, Into the Lion’s Den, happening at the Reel Affirmations Film Festival on Sunday, October 16th at 9pm.

Me & Ronnie Kroell

TAE: Before coming out, did you find any inspiration from LGBT films?

RK: Broken Hearts Club really had a major impact on me because it showed gay men in a very real and everyday way. The story of this particular group of friends was heartwarming and really made an impact on my life. And of course, I had a major crush on Dean Cain.

TAE: As an out actor and model and Playgirl cover, have you had any career challenges that you think may be due to your being out?

RK: If I have, I am not aware of them. I have never let my personal orientation stand in my way of getting what I want.

Ronnie Kroell in Into the Lion's Den

TAE: What can you tell us about the premiere of your latest film, Into the Lion’s Den?

RK: Into the Lion’s Den, written by Philip Malaczewski, is a cross between the warm depiction of the relationship between three close friends and a horribly twisted and dark nightmare. Working alongside Jesse Archer and Kristen Alexzander-Griffith was a real treat! It felt like we really were on a road-trip together – much like that of the story of our characters, but minus all the blood and suspense. We certainly had fun making this film and hope that the audience will enjoy this dark, yet humorous thriller – directed by Dan Lantz in association with Breaking Glass Pictures.

Ronnie Kroell as MC at a New York Fundraiser

RK: Our biggest challenges believe it or not reside within the community itself. We must take it upon ourselves to clean up our own act and start practicing what we are preaching to the community at large. At the heart of the work that must be done is ACCEPTANCE. We still are a community that is having trouble reconciling differences with-in the sub-groups of LGBT, especially where race and gender identity is concerned. Furthermore, if we want the community at large to be more accepting of us we too have to be more accepting of them by eliminating words like, “breeder” from our vocabulary and purposefully tearing down the walls between the “gay neighborhoods” and the “straight” neighborhoods. It’s important to have a sense of community and to celebrate our diversity, but true equality will be reached when we no longer have the need for a “Gay Neighborhood”.

When we can finally live amongst each other without fear of holding our boyfriend or girlfriend’s hand in public, when we can stop focusing on the superficial layers of who we are and celebrate our similarities, when we can reach down and find compassion once again in our hearts – that is when we will have achieved success in this movement. We must stay the course and continue to build bridges between the LGBT Community and our Allies, we must remember to say thank-you and appreciate the victories along the way, and we must never EVER give-up. I envision a more perfect Union where we move beyond these labels and can focus all of our energies on issues that desperately need our attention, ie: healthcare, education, and economy. We cannot afford to sit on the side-lines in complacency, now is the time for ACTION.

Ronnie Kroell

TAE: Do you believe more mainstream LGBT films such as Brokeback Mountain and Milk will ultimately help or hurt the production of more independent films such as the Eating Out series or Trick?

RK: Producing more mainstream LGBT films will never hurt the production of more independent films – there will always be a market for them. I do hope that more mainstream films are produced because it effectively reaches a much larger audience and educates the masses about the community, past – present – and future goals. I don’t think mainstream and independent LGBT film are necessarily mutually exclusive – we can have both, that’s the cool part!

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS TO WEDNESDAY'S PANEL!


TN Pastor Who Ordered Assault on Gay Son, Now Facing Theft Charges

7 Oct

Remember that Tennessee pastor we told you about earlier this week? The one who ordered his deacons to assault his own gay son when he and his partner tried to come to church?

Seems like he’s in the news again. According to local ABC affiliate, WBBJ:

According to Trenton police, they recently arrested Pastor Jerry Pittman, of Fruitland’s Grace Fellowship Church, on charges of stealing from a local business.

“It’s hard enough nowadays to trust people and I just can’t believe that a pastor would even steal anything,” said Trenton resident Hayley Gordon.

Police arrested the 52-year-old on September 21, after his estranged wife told them she had heard from co-workers that he had been stealing from her business.

“Our investigation into the incident that was reported showed that he and another gentleman did scrap copper at a scrap yard here in Trenton,” Lt. James Wilson said.

Investigators said he scrapped the copper at least three different times since August. It was hundreds of pounds, and worth more than $1,000.

“It was quite a bit that they scrapped,” Wilson said.

And, shockingly enough, this “Christian” man has been in trouble with the law before:

This actually is not the first time Pittman has been arrested. Police said he was arrested back in 2006 for a simple assault charge.

“It was over an incident where the daughter and the boyfriend had a joint child,” Wilson said. “There were some accusations involving the father of the child, which was the boyfriend, and he confronted the father of his grandchild at a local grocery store.”

One would think that parishioners would prefer a non-criminal to be leading their church.

Matthew Shepard: 13 years ago today

6 Oct

On October 7, 1998, Aaron Kreifels was riding his bike through a field in Wyoming. He wasn’t expecting that day to be different from any other beautiful sunny afternoon in the vast plains surrounding Laramie, but that day would change many lives.

Aaron spotted what he initially thought was a scarecrow next to a fence. Then he noticed a glisten of blood. The sun sparkled on what he barely recognized as a face. What Aaron had discovered was the 22 year-old Matthew Shepard, clinging to life.

Most of you know what happened next. Matthew held on for five more days and as his parents held his hand and prayed, Matthew slipped away quietly on October 12th, leaving in his wake a new movement for equality.

The outcries for justice and for greater protections were immediate and resonating.

Since then, Matthew’s mother Judy has made it her personal mission to protect all young LGBT people from Matthew’s horrific fate. In founding the Matthew Shepard Foundation, she has created safe spaces in and outside of schools for kids, and worked with parents to ensure their children learn to erase hate from their lives.

But overwhelmingly what you saw in 1998 was a community ready to act, ready to change something. And Matthew’s story was the catalyst for that. Many of you have seen or read the Moises Kaufman play, The Laramie Project – Matthew’s story as told through interviews of those who were living in Laramie at the time – some of his friends and some who just happened to be riding a bike through the plains of Wyoming that day. If you think of nothing else today, please consider the importance of telling your story – how your story can change the world around you.

This young boy, unbeknownst to him, has changed the world with his.

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