Archive | June, 2012

PHOTOS: DC Vigil for Teen Lesbians Shot in Texas

29 Jun

Kristene Chapa and Mollie Olgin

Last Friday night as many Americans prepared for a weekend of Pride celebrations, 19 year old Mollie Olgin was taking her girlfriend of 5 months, 18 year old Krissy Chapa to a movie. They had some extra time on their hands, so they stopped by a local park.

What happened between then and roughly 9am on Saturday is still being pieced together by Police.

Authorities were called to the scene after a couple came upon them in the morning. Mollie had died due to a gunshot wound to her neck and Kristene remains in intensive care with a gunshot wound to her head.

The investigation continues and as of 7pm last night, no motives or suspects have been discovered. A witness has come forward and described the shooter as a white male in his 20s, 5 foot 8 inches tall, 140 pounds with dark hair. As of this time, it is unknown whether the girls’ relationship was a motive for the crime. The police also indicated that the women did not know their assailant.

As of right now, there are more than 25 vigils planned across the country for the girls.

We hear from Kristene’s brother that she’s making progress and can now move the right side of her body. In trying to get her to communicate, she’s only been able to write – most of what she’s writing is Mollie’s name. Her family has refrained from telling her Mollie is gone for fear it will impact her recovery. Friends and family had been very supportive of their relationship.

Tonight, we were proud to help organize a twilight vigil in Mollie and Kristene’s honor in Washington D.C.. More than 100 people braved the 104 degree weather and contributed over $300 to help with Kristene’s medical care (as she is uninsured).

Speakers included Maya Rupert , Federal Policy Director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights will be Chad Griffin, new Executive Director for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Executive Director of the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL), Andrew Barnett and Chair of Gays & Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV), A.J. Singletary.

Thank you to those who joined us. Please feel free to make a contribution here to help out Kristene’s family.

What you don’t know about WWII hero Alan Turing

23 Jun

Today, Google is honoring Alan Turing with a new Google Doodle. It’s a puzzle on their search page. You see, some say Alan Turing was the code breaker most responsible for the defeat of Adolf Hitler and the end of World War II.

Turing then went on to create one of the first designs for a stored-program computer.

In 1952, Turing met a man named Arnold Murray outside a cinema. The two had a date and Turing invited Murray over to his house – an invitation Murray accepted but didn’t show up for. The pair met a few more times and Murray wound up spending the night at Turing’s house.

A few weeks later, Murray helped an accomplice break in to Turing’s house. When Turing called the police, he himself became the victim of the interrogation. Turing acknowledged a sexual relationship with Murray – and seeing as homosexuality was still illegal in the UK at the time, Turing was arrested. He was then given the choice between prison time and probation under condition to undergo hormone therapy (chemical castration). Turing chose the latter.

Alan Turing

Two years later, Turing’s body was found by his house cleaner. Beside his body was a half-eaten apple. A coroner found he had died from cyanide poisoning and though other evidence didn’t seem to point to suicide, the coroner’s declared: “In a man of his type, one never knows what his mental processes are going to do next.”

The apple was never tested for cyanide, but today a report has come out challenging the idea Turing took his own life. Turing’s mother always argued that he was careless with chemicals in his house, with which he was experimenting and working with. A new report finds he may have died from “accidental inhalation.”

The most reasonable explanation in my opinion comes from Turing’s biographer David Hodges and author David Leavitt. Hodges believes that Turing was far too intelligent to accidentally inhale cyanide in his experiment room. He thinks Turing did so to give his mother some plausible deniability. He and Leavitt have stated that Turing’s was re-enacting his lifelong favorite fairytale, Snow White. Leavitt noted that Turing “took an especially keen pleasure in the scene where the Wicked Queen immerses her apple in the poisonous brew.”

Whatever the truth might be, it cannot be denied that the British government failed to recognize the contributions of a man responsible for the end of World War II. Instead, they chose to criminalize him and inhumanely force him to undergo chemical therapy for castration.

While students around the world may know Turing’s name for his incredible contributions to humanity – the rest of his story is seldom told by teachers. I certainly never learned it. If we’re to learn from our incredible mistakes, we must acknowledge they existed.

Happy Birthday, Alan.

Bullied Bus Monitor to Get Over $400,000!

21 Jun

This is not an LGBT-specific story, but I can’t help but share it.

By now, more than 2 million of you have viewed the crazy viral youtube video, Making the Bus Monitor Cry. If you haven’t seen this horrific video, you can watch it here:

While this isn’t an LGBT-specific story, bullying is. What 78 year-old Karen Klein endured on this bus was probably nothing new for her that day. This just happened to be the time it was recorded. One could easily focus on the severe lack of respect kids today have for adults. But judging from the hundreds of LGBT teen suicides in recent years, kids don’t save their ugliness for their elders. They are undiscriminating in their cruel treatment of others.

Happily, someone started an online fundraising campaign to send Karen on a vacation. Their goal of $5,000 was quickly surpassed, and it seems Karen may not have to work for a couple years since they’ve now raised nearly $400,000.

 

Anti-Gay Craigslister a Hoax

14 Jun

You may have read it here first two nights ago or perhaps you’ve seen the story from yesterday on Towleroad or JoeMyGod. Maybe you caught it on Fark.com or today on HuffingtonPost.

It seems that a parent was using Craigslist to sell their kid’s Macbook. In itself, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. But in this instance, the parent was getting him a new Macbook because after getting caught in “homosexual acts,” he was “choosing to be straight.” The new Macbook was to be his reward.

While this sounds ridiculous at first glance, this kind of behavior from parents around the world is not unheard of. But as it turns out, this particular story is a fake.

I’ve now done a great deal of research and this story has now been posted on dozens of other sites so, here’s the story…

The response I received was from a Clarence M. and despite my efforts, there was never another reply from that address. So, I googled the full name in Culver City and came up short. Then I just searched his name to see what I could find. other than the random “find someone’s phone number for $19.99″ ads, one post jumped out at me.

It was a post someone made to GLAAD’s Facebook page in November, 2010:


The name was the same and the circumstances nearly identical. And lo and behold, one of the commenters to the GLAAD post has provided me with a screencap of the Las Vegas ad.


Having this new email address, I started another search – which wasn’t too hard. It seems Alex A. of Las Vegas, NV has been for some inconceivable reason, posting fake ads to Craigslist where he poses as the parent of a gay teenager, tells a story about catching his kid having gay sex and either decides to sell his kid’s things or reward him for “choosing to be straight.”

Judging from Alex’s Google+ and Twitter accounts, he’s a handsome young man. So I’m not sure why he sees the need to spend so much time trolling Craigslist with obnoxious, fake stories. I’m trying to figure out how one man’s life could be so boring that he feels the need to obsess over gay teenagers having sex?

And finally, I received a response after calling the poster out via email. It seems a young man named Daryl has been up to no good. Following our excerpts from some of our emails back and forth:

“Yes, I need to keep my aliases straight. It’s Daryl actually. I write horrible posts on Craigslist all over the country to see what issues make people angriest for a project I’m putting together. I’m sorry anyone that was offended.”

“It started out when I got my first computer, my friends and I put an ad on Craigslist saying we were selling Justin Bieber tickets. We made fun of the people that would write us. That gave me an idea to start putting up other things on Craigslist to see what people have passion about and to get reactions out of them. I want to write something about issues that people are most passionate about. I want to be a writer one day. I’m sorry about this all. I just don’t want this to affect me going to a good school one day. I’m sorry.”
I’ve now confirmed Daryl is who he says he is and I think he’s been significantly frightened away from pulling this kind of thing again. And finally, he asked me to tell you all this:
“I guess I just never understood how bad it was for most people. I have no problem with gay people at all. It seems so foreign that someone would hate gays. I’m sorry. I never understood. One of my friends I think is gay. We have been friends since we were little kids. If anyone said something to him I would be pissed. I didn’t understand how bad some people were treated. I’ll never do anything like this again. I’m having panic attacks like crazy right now. I would never be against gays, ever. I’m sorry.”

If you’re straight, I’ll get you a new Macbook.

12 Jun

A friend on Facebook notified me this evening of a troubling Craigslist ad he came across in Los Angeles.

In the ad, a mom or dad is selling their son’s computer because he wants to get the newest version of the Macbook. They go on to explain that they’re not spoiling their son with this new laptop, quite the contrary-because their son was caught engaging in “homosexual acts,” this was his reward for claiming he would choose to be straight.

I’ve written to the person who placed the ad and it’s quite possible that the ad is a hoax. But if for some reason, this young man’s mother finds me through the blog, I wanted to share two important facts and some helpful resources with her.

1. Being gay is not a choice.

2. 1 out of every 4 teen suicides is a gay teen. Among the leading causes of those suicides is a lack of family acceptance.

Family Acceptance Project will help you find ways to treat your son with the respect and love that he deserves.

Visit the Prayers for Bobby site and learn a little something about a Mom who felt the same way you did, and how she feels now that her son is gone.

Then again, it is the new Macbook…I’d probably tell my parents I was straight too if I was going to get a free Macbook. This also may indeed be a hoax, but having a career in knowing about social media trends, new media and how it’s used– the red flags about the danger a kid may be in outweighed the possible red flags of being embarrassed by a craigslist hoax.

UPDATE:

I did receive a response from the poster and have confirmed an address in the correct location. Their response stated:

“I regret to inform you that I will not be calling you. I don’t need for you or anyone else to have my number. Not after all the hatred and threats I’ve gotten.”

I replied with some helpful information, including some of what I have here in the blog post. I have yet to receive a response.

UPDATE 2:

I’ve now done a great deal of research and this story has now been posted on dozens of other sites so, here’s the story…

Anti-Gay Craigslister a Hoax

School Board Bans Book for Mentioning Gay Families Exist

4 Jun

Me, circa 1982.

I grew up in a small town in Massachusetts and I knew from a very young age that I was different from the other kids. My story starts off like many of yours. I read all the storybooks you read, saw all the Disney Princess movies you saw and I knew there was a reason I liked Bo & Luke so much more than Daisy.

When I was 10, I started performing in musicals and at 11, I was in a Longwood Opera production of Gianni Schicchi. At the cast party, a very tall slender African American man was talking to my mother. Another man came up next to him and was introduced as his “lover.” Of course I knew what they meant, but I’d never seen someone who was gay. Not in any book, or Disney movie or TV show. This was a first for me. It was the first time in my childhood I didn’t think there was something wrong with me.

In Erie, IL yesterday, the Erie School Board voted to ban Todd Parr’s “The Family Book” from it’s elementary school. The book tells young children that families are different. It speaks of large and small families, families with of different ethnicities, single-parent families, families with adopted children and then of course…the most terrifying of all “Some families have two moms or two dads.” It’s this single line which caused such a stir in Erie, Illinois, that the school board has taken the book off the shelves. Parents called and complained that children that young should not be taught this kind of material. It’s okay if it’s taught to older children, but not younger kids who are potentially picking on other kids because they have two moms or two dads.

It seems that due to the complaints of just 4 parents, the Erie School Board, led by School Board President Charlie Brown decided to ban the book.

Brown additionally took to Facebook to endorse putting “the Bible back in schools,” as seen here in the screenshot:


I spoke with Zach Wahls, the young man from Iowa who courageously defended his own lesbian parents and their family about this story and he responded:

“As the grown son of a lesbian couple who attended public K-12, this is both frustrating and frightening. For the board of a school district to say that my family structure is an ‘issue’ that shouldn’t be included ‘at the elementary school level’ not only fails to explain why that’s the case but also alienates the students in that district who do have two moms or dads. This is another startling reminder of the fact that not all bullies are just adolescent kids: some of them grow up to be school board presidents”

Erie School Board President Charles Brown

Additionally some educators from the elementary school where the book was banned made statements. They spoke on condition of anonymity as they feared they couldn’t do so publicly without risking their jobs.

“As an educator at the elementary, I am very disappointed that the GLSEN materials and Todd Parr books won’t be used again. They were excellent resources for the diversity unit and completely age appropriate. At no time was there anything mentioned that was inappropriate. The elementary level is the perfect time to teach acceptance and respect for everyone and all types of families. I am also very disappointed that these materials were taken away from everyone due to a small group of parents that opposed it. The best option would have been to leave the materials in place and those that wanted their children to opt out do so. By banning materials and books, we are not moving in the right direction. I am very saddened by the whole situation!”

Sean Leeds, a former student in the district, has started a petition at Change.org. In it, he requests that the school board reconsider their actions. Please tell School Board President Charles Brown that all families matter. As of now, more than 100 Erie parents have signed another petition asking for the reinstatement of both the book and other anti-bullying educational materials.

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