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So…who’s the bride?

18 Apr

gay_wedding_lo-713823It’s no secret that I’m getting married a month from today. The generally frazzled look, messy hair, hundreds of wedding planning Google docs open on my computer – there’s really no hiding it.

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.

255414_313640668743948_771725876_nFrom 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.

 

Father threatens custody suit after ex-wife befriends “known homosexual”

21 Mar

Here’s one for the books…

Lawyer Paul C. Sullivan penned homophobic letter

Lawyer Paul C. Sullivan penned homophobic letter

A Roman Catholic father in Maryland has asked his lawyer, Paul C. Sullivan to pen one of the most horrific pieces of undeniable bigotry I have seen in recent years.

Ed and Kelly were married, had two children and then divorced (as has been known to happen). Kelly was awarded custody of the children with visitation from Ed. Since then, it seems Kelly has become friends with a gay man – Chris. Kelly has since re-married and she sometimes asks Chris to babysit her kids (as has been known to happen).

Apparently, that’s not okay with Ultra-Catholic Ed. The following letter was sent to Kelly with regards to her parenting. In it, Paul Sullivan engages in a homophobic tirade ignorantly linking being gay to being a child predator, claiming that by having a gay person around the house, Kelly is “encouraging a homosexual lifestyle” and threatens investigations and custody trials should Kelly not reverse the child’s dangerous course.

Additionally, the lawyer and father have been in communication with the Sheriff, the county commissioners, the vice principal and the guidance counselor of the middle school Kelly’s son attends.

Kelly’s friend Chris has no record of being a child predator or really any criminal record whatsoever, but the lawyer’s letter also threatens to pursue criminal proceedings against him – merely for babysitting Kelly’s son.

Some further research and a conversation with Kelly has brought some more information to light. It turns out Ed has released some videos about his wife, “The Drug Slut,” and it turns out their son’s behavior problems include getting detention for talking in class and simply not wanting to participate in the extreme dogma his father tries to force upon him.

Ed’s organization, Maryland’s Fathers Rights League is also known for lobbying against the Violence Against Women Act

If this were 1950, I might understand some of the homophobic and vitriolic things being claimed here by Paul Sullivan, but it’s 2013. Here is the full text of the letter followed by images (emphasis is mine).

Dear Mrs. XXXXXX

I have been retained by Mr. XXX again to address parenting issues related to your two (2) sons. As you know, there has been considerable difficulty recently related to your refusal to support and encourage the children’s Roman Catholic faith and certain biblical precepts related to lifestyle choices. It appears as if you are encouraging a homosexual lifestyle for the children and allowing your eldest, XXXX at age 13 to be placed in an environment where he could, and likely would, be exposed to a child predator.

As you know this case was previously assigned to Judge Kenneth long who is currently the administrative judge for the Washington County Circuit Court in Hagerstown. In the event you continue the destructive parenting that encourages XXXX’ exploration of decadent choices in behavior, we will have no alternative but to file to obtain sole legal custody and sole physical custody of both children. We have been in communication with Sheriff XXXX, the vice principal of XXXX Middle School, the guidance counselor at XXXX Middle School and the president of the XXXX County Commissioners, seeking their assistance and support in helping XXXX change the path which you seem to be encouraging.

It may be necessary for us to file a CINA petition, because the actions taken at his school related to detention do not seem to be having any corrective effect. This child appears to be out of control because of your refusal to co-parent with Mr. XXXX on Saturday, March 16th at 8:30 PM as ordered by the court. It is our understanding that you allowed XXXX to stay overnight at the home of a known homosexual whose probable intentions related to XXXX are suspect. Further investigation may lead to the request for criminal charges against that individual due to XXXX minority.

We’re attempting to obtain additional assistance to help XXXX abate the current course you have encouraged him to travel. You seem not to understand the eventual adverse consequences that may occur for XXXX and which could adversely affect him for a lifetime.

If, however, you would be taking the position in court that you are not encouraging XXXX in the way it is believed you are, and are in fact unable to adequately discipline XXXX or institute and enforce parental boundaries that are needed, you certainly have the option to enter into a consent decree allowing Mr. XXXX to have sole legal and sole physical custody of the children so that he will have the authority, within the bounds of law, to take the corrective action needed to safeguard the best interests of the children.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions concerning this matter. If you are agreeable to the entry of a consent order as suggested above, please call me at your earliest convenience and I will prepare it for your review and signature.

Thank you and kindest regards,

Very truly yours,

Paul C. Sullivan


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Ender’s Game, Superman and Anti-Gay Bigotry

12 Feb
Super-ally, Chris Kluwe

Super-ally, Chris Kluwe

More and more, the Sci-fi, Comic, Gaming and Anime communities have come out overwhelmingly in favor of equality for their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender friends, superheroes and artists. While these communities remain fairly dominated by straight guys, it’s rare to see homophobic messages stated – and when they are, they’re frequently challenged by allies.

World of Warcraft fan and Minnesota Viking Chris Kluwe has become a hero to the LGBT community following a tongue-lashing he gave to a Maryland lawmaker (let’s just say the term “lustful cockmonster” is now a part of our country’s vernacular because of him).

Star Wars: The Old Republic now allows players to select the sexuality of their characters. In fact dozens of games now feature gay characters including Dragon’s Age II, Guild Wars 2, Tekken, Mass Effect 1, 2 & 3, Fallout: New Vegas, Bully, and even a lesser-known PS2 game (which I happened to voice the lead character for) Shadow Hearts: From the New World features a gay relationship.

As for the comic industry, from Green Lantern to Archie, we’re seeing more and more openly gay and proud characters. This is nothing new.

urlSo this is why I was shocked to see that DC Comics had hired one of the most openly-homophobic science fiction writers out there to usher in the new Superman digital comic. Orson Scott Card, author of the soon-to-be-released blockbuster movie, Ender’s Game is not only anti-gay, but he is unapologetically so. In 2009, Card joined the board of one of the most virulently anti-gay organizations we know of, The National Organization for Marriage (NOM). While the name sounds innocuous enough, NOM has not only sunk millions into fights agains marriage equality, they’ve also fought against gay adoption, against safe schools for LGBT kids, and as recently reported, the gay “lifestyle” as a whole. And Card is a part of it all.

In 2000, Salon’s Donna Minkowitz outed Card as a “disgustingly outspoken homophobe” following a thorough and eye-opening interview. In his writing, he has equated homosexuality with pedophilia, and in a 2004 essay, Card stated:

“The dark secret of homosexual society—the one that dares not speak its name—is how many homosexuals first entered into that world through a disturbing seduction or rape or molestation or abuse, and how many of them yearn to get out of the homosexual community and live normally.”

A devout Mormon, Card frequently speaks about the “radical redefinition of marriage,” which is of course fairly hypocritical considering his own church went through their own “radical redefinition of marriage” not so long ago. In 1990, Card wrote a lengthy essay titled “The Hypocrites of Homosexuality.” Throughout, he roundly admonishes gay people as nothing more than people who are giving into sin. He even goes so far as to stating that anti-sodomy laws should remain on the books making homosexuality illegal in the U.S.. He points out of course in an epilogue that those were his old views before those laws were overturned. Now he only says non-inflammatory things like:

“There are no laws left standing that discriminate against gay couples. They can visit each other in the hospital. They can benefit from each other’s insurance.”

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Virulently anti-gay Ender’s Game author Orson Scott Card

This was what he said last year when North Carolina was passing an anti-gay marriage amendment. He seems to ignore the fact that hospital visitation is not a law, it’s an Executive Order which can easily be overturned by the next President and his statement that we can benefit from each other’s insurance is a lie. This is completely dependent on the insurance company and the employer one has. Most companies in the U.S. still do not offer coverage for partners of LGBT employees. Finally, I’d like to point him to the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (which gives heterosexual couples 1100+ rights which I don’t have), the lack of an Employment Non-Discrimination Act (meaning that in most states I can still be fired for being gay) and the 30 or so states I can be evicted from my home for being gay.

Card has gone even further though, threatening to overthrow any government who approves marriage equality:

“Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage.

Card has proven that not only is he virulently anti-gay, but he has no problem spreading lies to bring others to his wrong side of history.

All Out, an international LGBT rights organization has started a petition asking DC Comics to get rid of the anti-gay Orson Scott Card. I can’t seem to find any sort of formal boycott of his film “Ender’s Game” set for a March release, but considering 10% of his income is also tithed to the Mormon church, I’m fairly certain they won’t be seeing my $12.

Madison Square Garden Apologizes, Pulls Homophobic Ads

7 Nov

When I didn’t think the past 24 hours could get any better…

After winning marriage equality in three states last night and stopping an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment in a fourth state, a little bit of light also comes out of New York City.

Earlier this week, we reported on an ad campaign being run by Madison Square Garden Networks. The ads were intended to get people to not do one thing on Friday night, and instead stay home and watch a New York Knicks game on TV.

The ad, found on a phone booth and posted on facebook by Richard Roland stated:

“It’s Friday night. You can either see a Broadway harness malfunction or you can watch real men fly.”

The words were referencing the multi-million dollar musical, Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark,” in which actors have been injured, including Christopher Tierney, who fell 30 feet from the air into the orchestra pit in December 2010. Tierney , who sustained four broken ribs and fractured three of his vertebrae, returned to the show four months later.

Others including myself, found the ad to be very thinly-veiled homophobia. Anytime the term “real men” is used in comparison to someone else, it has historically been a way to feminize someone or in essence, call them a “sissy,” or a “fag.”

This afternoon, we heard from ESPN.com reporter Darren Rovell that the ads have been pulled. According to his article,

“Earlier this week, the New York Post reported that the network, which is under the same business umbrella that includes the Knicks, would pull a particular ad after a representative admitted it was “bad judgment” and apologized to anyone who was offended.”

Well done, everyone who contacted MSG and shared the story with your friends. Little victories like this do make a difference!

Madison Square Garden Thinks ‘Real Men’ Don’t Dance in Homophobic Ad

1 Nov

It’s no secret that there’s some homophobia in professional sports, but the tide is turning. With pro athlete heroes like footballers Brendan Ayabendejo and Chris Kluwe, wrestler Hudson Taylor, Hockey player Sean Avery and dozens more speaking out for marriage equality, we can see things are changing.

However, for every few steps forward, there has to be a step back. Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Knicks has released a new ad being seen on phone booths in New York City. The ad reads:

“It’s Friday night. You can either see a Broadway harness malfunction or you can watch real men fly.”

Yes, there’s a little dig at Spiderman in there (a little two years ago, but I digress). But take a look at the next part of the ad where it clearly claims that people who work on Broadway aren’t “real men.”

The insinuation that someone who spends a few months a year throwing a ball in a hoop is any more of a man than someone who does 8 shows a week literally breaking their backs as they do their acrobatics on a stage is not only insulting, but it’s utterly false.

As a kid who grew up doing musicals, seeing an ad like this would have hurt me. Gay kids out there who happen to be attracted to something other than athletics are putting up with enough bullying from their peers and in many cases their families. They don’t need it from Madison Square Garden too.

As New York has seen enough trouble this past week, let’s hope MSG quickly issues an apology and pulls down their homophobic ad.

In conversations about this, I’ve found a few people don’t find anything offensive about this. One friend even advised that we shouldn’t get upset about this and we should instead wait until some NBA player calls someone a “fag” and no one does anything about it. The problem with this argument is that when the phrase “Real Man” is used as a pejorative against another person, it is nearly always the same thing as calling someone a “fag.” Everytime that phrase has been used to insult someone in the last 50 years, it has been to question someone’s masculinity and/or their sexuality. That’s why I think this is important to point out. This is essentially the same as an NBA Player shouting “fag” at someone, except this time it’s on a phone booth in New York and no one is saying anything about it.

After some calls to Madison Square Garden, I’ve found it’s an ad for MSG Networks and I’ll update you when I receive a response.

h/t to Richard Roland, who took the photos.

Texas Teacher Harassed by “Christian” Student Claiming 1st Amendment Rights

28 Sep

Dakota Ary

Some of you may have heard about Dakota Ary, the Fort Worth high school student who claims he was suspended for expressing his religious beliefs. Ary claimed that his German teacher broached the topic of homosexuality and Christianity when Ary stated “I am a Christian and I believe that homosexuality is wrong.” Ary was then sent from the classroom and suspended for 3 days.

Up until today, the teacher in question had not been allowed to speak about the incident, but via the group LGBTQ S.A.V.E.S., a rather different story is being told. According to teacher Kristopher Franks, a group of four students, (of which Ary is one) has been harassing him based on their suspicion that he is gay. Franks’ version of the story follows:

On the particular day in which this incident occurred, Mr. Franks was opening class when the topic of Christianity in Germany was broached by one student, who asked what churches were there, another whether they read the Bible in English, etc. Franks asserts that the topic of homosexuality was not broached in any way, and that Ary‘s assertions to the contrary are entirely false. At this point, Ary declared, with a class audience, “Gays can’t be Christians; homosexuality is wrong,” looking directly at Mr. Franks. Franks says he understands and affirms students’ right to free speech, and that he is perfectly prepared to lead a respectful discussion on topics such as gay rights that allows for the assertion of opinions with which he disagrees. He has led such discussion in the past in his sociology classes. But in this case, hr feels the context makes it clear that this remark was made ad hominem, aimed specifically at him to devalue him and any information he might share on the topic of religion, on the basis of his perceived sexual orientation.

LGBTQ S.A.V.E.S. goes on to request assistance in making sure Franks’ side of the story is heard fully. The contact info will be at the end of this post. One can’t help but consider the case of another student who took it upon himself to spread his beliefs about homosexuality while still young, impressionable and naive. We’ve written about Ryan Miner here before and his crusade to keep a Gay Straight Alliance group from forming on his former college campus. Miner  said some rather vile things in the press and like former Senator Rick Santorum, he now finds himself with a Google problem.

When Miner has applied for jobs, he’s admittedly found a great deal of difficulty in getting hired due to his previous bigoted statements. In this day and age, let’s face it – unless you’re working at the National Organization for Marriage, you will have to work with some LGBT people – and who wants to hire someone who is a known bigot and will likely cause friction among their coworkers? Miner has recently issued an apology for the things he said, though in an effort to discover Miner’s earnestness, we requested he do more (i.e. volunteer for an LGBT charity, donate to LGBT causes, etc). Our requests for Miner to back-up his new found “respect” for the LGBT community have gone unanswered.

Please read the rest of the post from LGBTQ S.A.V.E.S and help in any way you can.

It would be very helpful, and a grace rendered to the threatened teacher, Mr. Franks, if you and other community members would write letters and/or email messages to the school board members, assistant superintendent, and Western Hills High School principal, calling on them to give a respectful, caring, and full hearing to Mr. Franks’ side of the story. Time is of the essence: He is being interrogated by an external investigations group today, though no specific allegations have yet been made against him by the ISD. I will post their names, phone numbers and email addresses below. Please keep all messages respectful and restrained, calling simply for a fair, respectful and caring hearing of Mr. Franks’ side of the story, unswayed by the public outcry generated by the slanted media coverage. Do not go into the speculations or reports of his side of the case; that is for him to present.

Walter Dansby
Interim Superintendent
Fort Worth ISD
Email: walter.dansby@fwisd.org
Phone: 817.871.2000

James Wellman
Principal
Western Hills High School
Fort Worth ISD
Email: james.wellman@fwisd.org
Phone: 817.815.6000

Ray Dickerson
President
Board of Education
Fort Worth ISD
Email: ray.Dickerson@fwisd.org

Carlos Vasquez
Board Member, District 1
Board of Education
Fort Worth ISD
Email: carlos.vasquez@fwisd.org

Norman Robbins
Board Member, District 7
Board of Education
Fort Worth ISD
Email: norman.robbins@fwisd.org

Is it Getting Better? 14-Year Old Gay Bullying Victim Lost to Suicide

20 Sep

Jamey Rodemeyer

This weekend, after years of bullying, and telling anyone who could listen about it – 14-year old Jamey Rodemeyer took his own life.

Since 5th grade, Jamey had been dealing with taunts from his classmates and routinely blogged and posted online about what he was going through. He would speak against bullying frequently and even call out his own school which he said was doing nothing about it. Just last week, Jamey wrote:

“No one in my school cares about preventing suicide, while you’re the ones calling me fag and tearing me down.”

His attentive parents frequently would speak to him about what he was going through and in recent months, it seemed as though either the bullying had subsided or that Jamey had learned how to brush it off. but then late Saturday night, Jamey posted two final comments to his Tumblr blog – the first saying how he wanted to see his Grandmother (who had recently died) and another was a message of thanks to Lady Gaga. The following is a line from Lady Gaga’s song, “The Queen”

According to Buffalo News, “He touched so many hearts, so many people,” said his mother, Tracy Rodemeyer, who met with some of his grief-stricken friends at Williamsville North on Monday. “I didn’t realize how many people he touched. He was the sweetest, kindest kid you’d ever know. He would give all his heart to you before he gave any to himself.”

Olivia Rinaldo, an eighth-grader at Heim Middle School, said she was drawn to his outwardly upbeat and extroverted personality. He made friends of the friendless, she said.

“He was always putting people first,” she said. “He always wanted other people to smile, even on the worst of his days.”

Jamey also had a Formspring account which allows anonymous comments to user’s posts. In recent months, some of those commenters said things including:

“JAMIE IS STUPID, GAY, FAT ANND UGLY. HE MUST DIE!”

“I wouldn’t care if you died. No one would. So just do it :) It would make everyone WAY more happier!”

Jamey is another in a long line of teens who’ve succumbed to endless bullying and torture. This is not a rite of passage. Being tormented can make some stronger and cause them to come out of it and succeed in spite of their bullies. But some of us aren’t prepared for the kind of harassment young LGBT kids receive.

We need to be doing more.

Just a few months ago, young Jamey made this “It Gets Better” video. It’s very difficult to watch knowing what this child was going through when he made it. Despite his own circumstances – it was important to him that he help other kids feel better about themselves. Please watch and share Jamey’s story so that maybe one more kid won’t have to go through this.

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