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UPDATE: SCHOCKED! CBS Journalist Outs Anti-Gay Republican Congressman

4 Jan
Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) poses for Men's Health

Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) poses for Men’s Health

It’s one of the worst-kept secrets in Washington, D.C.. From the teal belt, white pants and pink gingham shirt, to his topless photos adorning the cover of Men’s Health to the TMZ video of him “sightseeing” in a gayborhood, we’re truly Schocked that a noted CBS journalist has outed the Illinois Congressman.

The LGBT community frequently has conversations about the value of outing a person and while many disagree with it as a tactic for creating change, most are on the same page that a person who acts hypocritically has made their own bed.

The HBO documentary “Outrage,” made by Talk About Equality friend, Mike Rogers – reveals boatloads of information about several electeds in DC and their hypocritical voting records vs their sexual orientation. The film was made before GOP Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL) graced the halls of the Capitol, but many sitting Senators and Congressman were targets of the film.

Mike Rogers was criticized when the film was released, that nearly all of the film’s focus was on Republicans, with very little attention paid to Democrats. Rogers aptly responded that the Democrats on the hill weren’t acting hypocritically – voting against their own community’s rights and protections.

In comes Itay Hod, an openly gay journalist for CBS whose friend’s roommate is seeing Rep. Schock. Through a “hypothetical” presented on Hod’s Facebook page, a story is told of Hod’s friend walking in on his roommate and the Congressman in the shower together.

Technically speaking, Hod’s post is hearsay and rumor. There is currently a big argument going on around whether or not this outing is at all newsworthy as there’s no evidence presented. Granted, no one’s ever felt the need to present evidence that Schock is heterosexual either – so the double standard here and the hypocrisy of Schock’s voting record should these allegations be true means that this is entirely newsworthy to us.

Check out the post below:

Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL)

Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL)

“people always say, no one has the right to out anyone. that coming out is a private matter. i disagree. as you can imagine, not a very popular opinion. but bear with me.

here’s a hypothetical: what if you know a certain GOP congressman, let’s just say from Illinois, is gay… and you know this because one of your friends, a journalist for a reputable network, told you in no uncertain terms that he caught that GOP congressman and his male roommate in the shower… together. now they could have been good friends just trying to conserve water. but there’s more. what if this congressman has also been caught by tmz cameras trolling gay bars. now what if you know that this very same guy, the darling of the gop, has also voted against repeal of don’t ask don’t tell, opposed the repeal of doma, is against gay marriage; and for the federal marriage amendment, which would add language to the us constitution banning gay marriage and would likely strike down every gay rights law and ordinance in the country?

Are we still not allowed to out him?

let me ask another question… doesn’t the media have an OBLIGATION to expose his hypocrisy? if he had done something so hypocritical and he wasn’t gay, wouldn’t we demand journalists do their job? but they can’t… because we won’t let them. you’re not allowed to out ANYONE, we tell them.

we’ve created a situation where even though news organizations know this guy is gay, they can’t report it because he hasn’t said so on twitter.

if we keep saying that being gay is genetic; ergo, it’s no different than having blue eyes or blonde hair… than why are not allowed to mention it? why do we need anyone’s consent to talk about their sexuality? are we not allowed to say someone has blue eyes until they post a fb message telling us they are in fact blue?

we’ve been so effective at convincing everyone that outing people is a crime against humanity, that we’ve made it impossible for any network or news organization to talk about this “hypothetical” gay republican congressman and his hypocritical vote against gay rights. they won’t touch it for fear of retribution from GLAAD or HRC. (in fact when my friend’s network interviewed said hypothetical republican, he talked about wanting to find a nice woman to marry… and the network aired it… knowing it was a lie…

so, forgive me if I don’t subscribe to the notion that you’re not allowed to out anyone… in fact in some cases, i’d celebrate it. but I’m crazy that way.”

UPDATE: It seems Rep. Schock has just privatized his Instagram account which was just hours ago open to everyone. This may or may not have something to do with an AmericaBlog post titled “Aaron Schock’s 7 Gayest Instagram Posts of 2013.

Pride House Announces Olympic Same-Sex Hand Holding Initiative

14 Aug

Olympics Day 4 - Gymnastics - Artistic Today, Pride House – an international coalition of LGBT sport and human rights groups announced their Same-Sex Hand-Holding Initiative, a campaign that is part of the group’s response to the International Olympic Committee’s choice of Russia as host nation for the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

While the International LGBT community has been searching for a way to respond to Russia’s anti-gay laws including boycotts of Russian products and calls to boycott the Olympic games in Sochi altogether, Pride House has been focused on finding a safe way for Olympic participants and fans to respond while in Russia.

“The very first thing the members of the Pride House International coalition did was to ask our Russian counterparts for their leadership on our campaign,” said Lou Englefield, Director of Pride Sports UK and PHI coordinator. “Any response, no matter how well-meaning, would be inappropriate without the input of LGBT sportspeople in Russia”. Konstanin Yablotskiy from the Russian LGBT Sports Federation is part of Pride House International, and was instrumental in conceptualizing the Same-Sex Hand-Holding Initiative.

As Yablotskiy explained, “Long after the 2014 Olympics, we in Russia will continue to live under this horrible law. For a few weeks we have the opportunity to bring the attention of the world to the situation in Russia. The Same-Sex Hand-Holding Initiative enables everyone to get involved with a simple yet iconic gesture. We know from gestures like Usain Bolt’s lightning stance the impact of such images that are simple, replicable, and identifiable”.

The campaign is simple: Pride House International is calling on everyone present in Sochi – athletes, staff, media, officials, spectators, sponsors, vendors, and fans – to take every opportunity to hold hands with a person of the same sex.

copy-phi-sshhi-header-1015x276“There are extreme restrictions on the uniforms and other items worn by athletes at any Olympic Games. Flags, badges, or pins are not allowed without IOC approval, a near-impossibility, and wearing something as seemingly innocuous as pink socks or shoelaces is very difficult for athletes to do, and complex to organise for other participants and spectators,” said the Federation of Gay Games’ Les Johnson. “But everyone can hold hands with their neighbour. Indeed, raising your rivals’ hands in camaraderie is an image we see on every podium at every sporting event.”

Pride House International does urge anyone wanting to participate in the campaign to exercise caution. Hand-holding should happen only in public view with as many witnesses as possible, media and otherwise.

Same-sex hand-holding has an Olympic tradition with the organization: A Day in Hand hosted a same-sex hand-holding relay through London as part of London 2012′s Inspire cultural program.

Materials in support of this campaign (posters, t-shirts, pins, and web badges) will be available starting by early October on the Pride House International website at pridehouseinternational.org.

Other supporting actions for the SSHHI campaign will be announced soon, as will other actions for visibility of LGBT sport during the Sochi Games.

International Olympic Committee May Join Russia in Punishing Gay Athletes

12 Aug
Openly Gay Olympic New Zealand Speed Skater Blake Skjellerup

Openly Gay Olympic New Zealand Speed Skater Blake Skjellerup

Most of you know what’s been going on between the Stoli boycotts and statements from athletes around the world with regards to the Olympics and anti-gay, draconian Russian laws.

For those who don’t, the short version is this: earlier this year, Russia passed some horrifically anti-gay laws making it illegal to “promote” homosexuality. Apparently you can BE gay, you just can’t ever tell anyone about it for fear you’ll be reported and go to prison. These laws have given cover to Neo-Nazi groups and others to take the law into their own hands by beating and murdering any person they think doesn’t measure up to their standard of heterosexuality.

Many have called on the Olympics to make strong statements against these laws and some have even called them to move the 2103 Winter Olympics out of Sochi to a place more accepting of all athletes.

The International Olympic Committee began by assuring athletes and fans that they’d spoken to Russian authorities and that Sochi athletes and fans would be exempt from the law.

Not so fast, said Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, making it clear that athletes and fans must respect the host country’s bigoted law.

Playing a media game of ping-pong, it’s left Olympic participants without any actual information regarding the situation in Russia. The truth of the matter is that no matter what kinds of assurances are made, LGBT people are not welcome and not safe in Russia. The IOC can say whatever they want to, but it will not stop some thug in a bar from kidnapping, beating and potentially murdering someone they perceive as gay.

Today, instead of actually standing up for LGBT athletes, the IOC is essentially siding with Russia and now warning lesbian and gay athletes.

Under rule 50 of the IOC’s charter: ‘No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.’

Gay Star News had asked what the global Olympic chiefs thought about plans for athletes to wear rainbow pins or hold hands during the opening and closing ceremonies.

They also asked if the IOC would provide a safe space – or Pride House – for LGBT athletes, spectators, dignitaries and others during the games to celebrate gay sport and community, as has been done in previous years.

But their spokeswoman told us: ‘Regarding your suggestions, the IOC has a clear rule laid out in the Olympic Charter (Rule 50) which states that the venues of the Olympic Games are not a place for proactive political or religious demonstration.

‘This rule has been in place for many years and applied when necessary.’

With this report, the IOC has made it clear that they have a double standard when it comes to accepting all athletes. The Pride House in Vancouver was historic in that it provided a safe space for LGBT athletes from around the world. The IOC clearly didn’t see this as a violation of Rule 50 a few years ago, but it seems as though athletes must now be forced to step back into the closet for the 2013 Sochi Olympics.

Despite confusing messages from the IOC, today Russia’s Interior Ministry has unequivocally stated that they will be enforcing their anti-gay law during the 2013 Sochi Olympic games.

Either way, if the Olympics remain in Sochi, LGBT athletes are automatically at a disadvantage. It’s really hard to perform to one’s full capabilities when one is spending part or most of their day in actual fear for their lives.

Out gay New Zealand speedskater Blake Skjellerup, told USA TODAY:

“I don’t want to have to tone myself down about who I am,” Skjellerup said. “That wasn’t very fun and there’s no way I’m going back in the closet. I just want to be myself and I hate to think that being myself would get me in trouble.”

I don’t think you’ll find a single athlete out there who’d disagree with the notion that you perform better when you don’t have to hide who you are. In fact, many said as much when basketball player Jason Collins came out last year.

At this point, I can’t imagine there is anything IOC can say to actually ensure the safety of their participants or fans – whether it be from the actual Russian government or vigilantes who are rarely if ever prosecuted for their crimes against LGBT people. While boycotts and news stories have been effective at getting the word out about the atrocities being carried out against LGBT people, none of this will actually make anyone safer in Russia. And none of it will stop LGBT athletes from constantly having to look over their shoulder as they compete for Olympic gold.

NOM breaks up the band

6 Jun
Former Scythian Drummer Andrew Toy

Former Scythian Drummer Andrew Toy

There’s some news in the world of Scythian, the band with three anti-gay members and two one pro-equality members.

You might remember that time when the anti-gay hate group, The National Organization for Marriage announced that an utterly unknown band called “Ultramontane” would be playing at their big anti-gay hate march in DC. Well, upon further digging, we discovered that “Ultramontane” was actually just 3/5 of Scythian. Alexander Fedoryka, Danylo Fedoryka and Ben-David Warner had made the decision to join the anti-gay group while members Josef Crosby and Andrew Toy decided to sit this one out, due to their fundamental beliefs that all people deserved to be treated equally under the law.

The piece I posted, titled “Will NOM be this band’s Yoko Ono” was never meant to actually be a prediction that NOM would cause the break-up of the band, but it’s appearing that it may have been a bit prophetic.

On Tuesday, Andrew posted to his Facebook page:

Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 11.09.43 PM

“I want to let everyone know that I will no longer be performing with Scythian. I want to thank all of the great people that I have met along the way, whose support and friendship has been incredible. I’m looking forward to sharing with you all my future musical endeavors, whatever they may be!”

Two days later, Scythian followed up with:

Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 11.10.35 PM

“After two years of fine drumming with Scythian, Andrew is moving on to pursue different musical endeavors, and we wanted to thank him for his great musicianship, hard work, and professionalism while traveling the country with us, and for truly making us into a better bunch of musicians. Please join us in wishing Andrew the very best as he moves ahead in his musical career! Thank you Andrew!”

I would like to think, based on these posts, that Andrew’s leaving was of his own accord. But upon some further research I discovered the band’s new drummer – Tim Hepburn, like the anti-gay members of the band – is hyper-Catholic and attended Franciscan University along with them.

Seeing as the anti-gay members of the band have remained cowardly and silent (except to the volunteers they depend on) leaving Josef Crosby and Andrew Toy to answer for their bigoted and naive decisions, I don’t expect to ever really know what happened. What I can say is that whether he left by choice, conscience or force, I believe Andrew will have a long and happy career without having to compromise his belief in a free and equal country for all Americans. We salute you, Andrew and thank you for standing with us on the right side of history.

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.

 

Members of band hurt by NOM speak out

20 Mar

It’s been a tumultuous week for the National Organization for Marriage. Last week, they released a video to advertise their anti-gay hate march in Washington D.C. – that video has now been yanked from Youtube because NOM had stolen the background music from the equality-supporting Katie Herzig.

The Lee Boys, one of their two announced acts to play at the big anti-gay hate march pulled out seconds after they were announced. Seems someone tipped them off to the fact that NOM exists solely to attack gay families.

Then a little poll came out announcing Americans were 58% in favor of marriage equality.

And upon researching their 2nd announced act, I discovered the band didn’t exist. Called “Ultramontane,” the celtic fiddle boy band was actually 3 of the 5 members of a popular ensemble known as Scythian. There was great mystery shrouded in the circumstances surrounding the split, but the band released a statement essentially saying they agreed to disagree.

Scythian's Josef Crosby

Scythian’s Josef Crosby

Since then, an uproar from equality-loving and some gay-hating fans have caused them to delete their Facebook and Twitter accounts. The individual band members have also been approached on their personal social networking sites and while we’ve heard nothing from the band members who’ve decided to play for the anti-gay march, the two who’ve opted out are now speaking out.

Drummer Andrew Toy briefly took to his Facebook page to state his support for equality a few days ago and now his fellow equality-loving band mate has made a beautiful statement of his own:

“I’ve always made it a point to leave politics at the door when it came to Scythian, but I feel I have to go on record as saying that I am completely in support of full equality for all couples, no matter their orientation. I can only hope the Supreme Court agrees.”

Screen Shot 2013-03-20 at 10.15.39 AM

 

Gallup Poll shows there are still a lot of closeted LGBT people.

15 Feb

There’s an interesting new Gallup study out today that needs to be taken with a box of salt.

aaron-schock-picnic-belt-photoIt seems they went around asking people if they “identify” as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The numbers are not surprising, but as anyone who lives in Washington D.C. will tell you, being gay and admitting you’re gay are two very different things. Having lived here almost two years now, I am completely convinced there are more closet gay people in this town than anywhere else in the U.S.. I’m not sure how we could find out via a Gallup study just how many there are, but one need only walk down K Street to figure out it’s a number greater than 1 in 10.

D.C. wins the contest with 10% of the population admitting to being gay. With North Dakota (a state I’m still not sure exists) coming in dead-last with a depressing 1.7%.

While it is indeed a good sign that this many people would come to terms with themselves enough to tell a stranger calling on the phone that they “identify” as LGBT, we really need not consider this study as an actual headcount of who is LGBT in our country.

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