When it comes to marriage, one of the final arguments of the anti-gay movement is “Why not civil unions?”
This week, Roger Gorley was visiting his husband’s bedside at Research Medical Center in Kansas City. When the ill man’s family demanded Roger be ejected from the room, Roger refused. He and his husband took part in a civil union ceremony 5 years ago and they also holds Power of Attorney for one another.
When the nurse was informed of this, she didn’t even bother going to look for the paperwork, she merely called security and had Roger removed from his partner’s bedside in handcuffs. Furthermore, the hospital has now taken out a restraining order keeping him from visiting his husband in the hospital.
The hospital released a statement which insinuates Roger was somehow putting people in danger or perhaps even reacting violently to being asked to leave his husband’s room.
“We believe involving the family is an important part of the patient care process. And, the patient’s needs are always our first priority. When anyone becomes disruptive to providing the necessary patient care, we involve our security team to help calm the situation and to protect our patients and staff. If the situation continues to escalate, we have no choice but to request police assistance.”
In 2010 President Obama mandated that any hospital that receives federal funding such as Medicare or Medicaid must allow visitation privileges for same-sex partners.
The fact of the matter is that not everyone knows what “civil union” means and this story is not isolated. For every story like this which makes it to the news, there are a dozen more for gay and lesbian couples who don’t have the resources to get their story out there. And in most states, if a story like that were to get out – someone could lose their job or be evicted from their home for being gay.
I live in Washington D.C. and I’m getting married in a month. If Sean were in the hospital and someone in his family were to try to make me leave, you can bet they’d have to arrest me too.
I got to go to the Macklemore concert on Friday night. If you want to hear about how that went, ask me, seriously, I want to talk about it until I die. The whole thing was great; but the best part was when Macklemore sang “Same Love.” Augustana’s gym was filled to the ceiling with 5,000 people, mostly aged 18-25, and decked out in thrift store gear (American flag bro-tanks, neon Nikes, MC Hammer pants.
I spend my days working for the New Organizing Institute. I work with some pretty awesome people and I can be myself uncensored in the workplace. At NOI, we teach people about something called “Engagement Organizing.” And no, it has nothing to do with getting a ring on your finger or helping you sort your closet.
We teach people about how to get involved and stay involved in progressive organizing – fighting for the things you believe in. It truly could not be a cooler job.
One of the most important things we teach is that you have to take breaks and find ways to rest now and then as spending every day doing something you’re passionate about can wear a person out. A lot of people have jobs they can leave at the office – but when your job is fighting for equality and teaching people to do the same, it’s a 24 hour thing.
I’ve been tired as of late and just at the right time tonight, I got a little inspiration. I want to share with you a note I got on Facebook that took me by surprise and is just what I needed to move me to the next steps I need to get to. We don’t always see when we’re making a difference when we fight, but know for every letter like this, there are a hundred more that haven’t been written.
10 years ago, I was producing my very first benefit concert, barely involved in the LGBT movement, but doing what I could when I could.
Thanks my friend, for pushing me to the next mountain to climb.
I keep seeing your name pop up recently, and I couldn’t help but PM you.
You probably do not remember me… but I wanted to let you know that you saved teenage-me’s life many years ago.
Long story short, I had been going through a rough time while figuring out that I am queer. A friend of mine had been gunned down for being assumedly gay and I had been considering ending my own life out of fear of having the same outcome.
Your words had somehow convinced me that life does indeed get better, even for gay kids. That I would make it out ok and grow to love myself.
Here I am, nearly ten years after you saved my life. I have a college degree, about to accept a full time position working with special needs young adults, and an incredibly supportive partner of nearly four years. We live together with our insane little cat-child in a small town near very accepting Philadelphia.
I’m a very active voice for lgbtq rights in my community. I proudly perform with the local Freedom Band, and marched openly for the President in January with my partner and 250 proud musicians from all over the place. It was unbelievable, and something I would’ve never expected to happen to me.
In hopes that I can be a voice for that struggling teenaged-me amongst our youth that you inspired so many years ago.
I thank you dearly for your kind words and encouragement, and your fearlessness.
In a Huffington Post Gay Voices piece today, Campus Pride Executive Director Shane Windmeyer has issued a cease and desist on behalf of Chick-fil-A.
According to Shane, following several meetings with Chick-fil-A President, Dan Cathy and an invite to be his personal guest to the Chick-fil-A Bowl, Shane has issued an all-clear. This is not the first time Shane has attempted to allay the fears of the LGBT community surrounding Chick-fil-A. In September of last year, he formally suspended his organization’s boycott of the company, which seemed to some as though the entire LGBT community was doing the same.
Following an interview on HuffPost Live in which Think Progress LGBT’s Zack Ford and I discussed these topics with Shane, I thought it important to follow-up. One of the important discoveries of Shane’s piece is that he’s been allowed access to top-secret internal Chick-fil-A documents and has seen their tax forms which prove Chick-fil-A is no longer giving to the “most divisive” anti-gay groups such as Focus on the Family or Exodus International – both of whom have been linked to Uganda’s infamous “Kill the Gays” bill. But that’s hard to comment on since Cathy only showed it to Shane personally.
There are an enormous number of questions which arise and it’s important that we ask them before chomping into a greasy, fatty homophobe sandwich. Some were asked during the interview above, but were never answered and others are now being asked around the interwebs.
Why would Dan Cathy choose to share these secret internal documents with only Shane instead of clearing his name and his organization’s reputation by sending them to a reporter? There could be several reasons for this. If the story is leaked to the mainstream media and it’s true, some of Chick-fil-A’s gay hating base might get real mad. Or perhaps the only reason they stopped giving to a few of the anti-gay groups was to earn Shane’s stamp of approval and thus earn Shane as an advocate to all those college campuses wanting to open new Chick-fil-As. Either way, Chick-fil-A is STILL contributing to anti-gay groups.
Why would Dan Cathy choose to pursue only Shane Windmeyer and Campus Prid instead of larger, farther reaching LGBT orgs such as HRC, The Task Force or GLAAD? Is it that Cathy found solace in the fact that Shane seemed like a nice guy or is it that Shane is the one with access to Cathy opening more lucrative restaurants on college campuses?
Finally, Shane’s piece, though ultimately about his budding friendship with Cathy, has led to media claims that Chick-fil-A has ceased funding to anti-gay groups. Though Shane blames the media for not reading into his own fine print that it was just the “most divisive” groups, he has managed to provide cover for a virulently anti-gay company and it’s virulently anti-gay President.
I hate conspiracy theories, truly I do, but there’s quite clearly something not kosher here – and I’m not talking about the soggy pickle in a Chick-fil-A sandwich. I like Shane and I think Campus Progress does incredibly important work. I would just hate to see that reputation at all sullied by lifting up those who steadfastly stand in opposition to equality. Dan Cathy may very well have found a friend in the LGBT community – as many homophobes have stated “Some of my best friends are gay…” But the harm his contributions have made cannot be cast aside simply because he invited a gay guy to a football game.
Late last night, Matt tweeted
“Starting off the year with a new fiancé, @bluehamilton. A great way to kick off 2013!pic.twitter.com/FQ9y4tHe“
Coming out quietly with a simple act seems to be the newest and might I add classiest way for Hollywood actors to let their fans know who they are. Last year White Collar and Magic Mike star Matt Bomer came out while thanking his partner and three little boys in an award thank you speech and Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons quietly did so in a brief statement at the end of a NY Times interview about an upcoming broadway play he was starring in.
While I’m sure the tabloid coming out articles and People magazine cover stories are far from over, its nice to see some of Hollywood is catching on to this new (and far more classy) trend.
Congrats to Matt and his new fiancé, LA musician James Hamilton, who followed up with his own adorable retweet this morning!
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 250,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 5 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!
I met my friend Eric Stuart while he was directing me in a cartoon and XBOX360 game called “Viva Pinata.” Eric, who most of you might remember as the voice of “Brock” on Pokémon, made a move from NYC down to Nashville a few years ago. Since then, his frustrations have led him to lots of Facebook chats with me. A New York jew with a whole lot of gay friends, it’s needless to say that he’s had some challenges in his new environment. That being said, If the Kinsey scale is accurate and 0 is exclusively heterosexual and 6 is exclusively homosexual, then Eric is a -4. I asked Eric to write a little something about his experiences for the blog and I’m thrilled to share this with you all.
Walking A Mile In Gay Shoes: A Straight Man Imagines What Being Gay In Nashvile Must Be Like
By Eric Stuart
The other day I was given an assignment by a good friend. Being one to never back down from a challenge, I was asked to write an essay the subject: Being a straight man, what I thought it must be like for a gay man to live here in Nashville.
Wow. Well first off, I think to be fair, all I really can to do is imagine. Without walking a mile in someone else’s shoes, I really can’t tell you. That being said, I will give it a try.
Let me give you a little of my background before I give you my thoughts. I am born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, the son of a dancer and a defense attorney (sitcom material, right?). My family taught me to accept everyone. Being around my mother and her profession, it would be safe to say I grew up around a lot of gay people. That is not to say all dancers are gay (they are not), but I will go out on a limb here and say many I knew were. Anyway, it was just a part of my upbringing. Because of that, I’ve always been supportive of gay rights and equality among all people. Additionally, I am a singer/songwriter and voice actor, so I also work in the arts.
Now you know a bit about me.
When I first moved to Nashville, I knew that I would run into people who didn’t necessarily think the same way I did. Now, I do not believe everyone should agree, what I do believe is that everyone should respect what makes us different and engage in respectful conversations and debates. Ignorance is the root of so much hate and hate really takes much more energy than love. So I like to hear where people are coming from and expect the same in return. For the most part I have found that here. Many of my neighbors feel that since we live in the same area I must have the same political beliefs, far from it. We tend to talk about music and sports more now.
Back to my assignment. Nashville is a unique southern city. In the heart of it (maybe because it is the center of an entertainment industry), there is a bit more acceptance and open-mindedness. There are universities here and with that comes educated people. And with all that, I’ve heard that there is a strong gay community here. It’s not quite like New York — not as out in the open as I am used to, but it is still here. But if you stray a bit outside of the city, you’re certain to find less of a ‘gay friendly’ environment.
What if I were a gay man here? Would I feel safe to be ‘out’? This is the bible belt. If I walked into a restaurant holding my partner’s hand, would people stare and would I be comfortable? I want to say here in Nashville it would be ok the majority of the time. I do think Nashville would do the right thing.
I do not want to generalize the South or southerners. I wouldn’t want them to do that to this Damn Yankee (a northerner who doesn’t leave). I have met loving, kind people here. I love living here and there is a sense of community that many places could learn from. There is, however, a certain image one has of what makes you a ‘man’ here. That would be very intimidating should someone not quite fit the mold. I think I would be very concerned. I would fear how my classmates, friends, co-workers would treat me should they find out. In school, would I be bullied? I think so, or at the very least, I think I’d spend a lot of time afraid that I might be.
The message of ‘Don’t Say Gay Bill’ was a real wake up call for me. I was thinking to myself, “when the kids in school are asked to draw a picture of their family and one kid has two fathers, if he draws that picture, will he be told that’s not allowed? That his family is not ‘normal’ so we cannot talk about it? That really doesn’t send a very accepting message to any gay people growing up here. This seemed to me like something I would read about in history books pre-civil rights. A kind of narrow-minded thinking that is truly ignorant and potentially dangerous. When so many states are making huge strides for equality, to see my new home state support this was like a knife in my heart. It makes you shake your head. If I were gay and my state passed this bill, I think I would leave, but not before yelling ‘Have a nice Gay!’ to every person I met (just because I am like that).
When people are not exposed to people who are different than they are, they develop their own stereotypes and prejudices. Nashville is laid out in such a way that you really don’t want to interact with people who might not be exactly like you, which is pretty easy to accomplish. This is my problem with a lot of the world. I think growing up in Brooklyn, a real melting pot, I was exposed to so much. I learned things about people and I learned to live side by side with them. Not always loving it, but never hating it, or better yet, never hating them.
It’s odd for me not to have any gay friends here, or should I say, openly gay friends. What I really wish for is that one day I wouldn’t even be paying attention to what category my friends fell under. They would just be my friends.
Maybe if more people realized that love is just love and that everyone should have the same rights, we would get to that place. That place sure seems far away sometimes living here in Tennessee.
You can find out more about Eric Stuart on his website. Also, go buy some of his recordings – he’s great!
Over the years, corporations have at times been vocal about social issues. It takes courage to take a stand that is sometimes unpopular, but once in a while, a company takes that brave first step.
But a couple weeks ago, something shifted. Something happened that caused all anti-gay hell to break loose. Chick-fil-A‘s CEO came out against marriage equality. For years now, individuals and companies have expressed their opinions and those of us in the equality movement have tried to make it known. JCPenney was boycotted by anti-gay groups when they hired Ellen Degeneres as a spokesperson and published a catalog featuring a photo of lesbian moms and their kids. A few people noticed, but it didn’t become a national debate. A list of California’s anti-gay Proposition 8 supporters came out. Some people got hysterical and started small boycotts of some companies, but again – it didn’t really wind up on the news.
Then CFA’s CEO Dan Cathy spoke up and told the Baptist Press that the company was “guilty as charged” for backing “the biblical definition of a family.” In a later radio interview, he ratcheted up the rhetoric: “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’” And everyone heard it.
I’ve now waded through tens of thousands of comments on Facebook, talked to dozens of people in real life and one thing has become clear. For some reason, something happened that made people stand up and take notice.
For many people in our community, we have those in our lives who we know might not be the most supportive of equality. For years we’ve gently nudged them and some have even taken great strides. And then there are some who have just remained quiet while we’ve posted things on Facebook about different stories of discrimination – some violent and horrific. But for some reason, this Chick-fil-A thing happens and EVERYONE has an opinion – and not a small-voiced one either.
I made a meme that wound up on George Takei’s Facebook wall. It didn’t mention CFA directly but featured The Muppets’ Kermit and Miss Piggy getting married. The text read: Thank you Jim Henson’s Muppets, Standing Up for Non-Traditional Marriage since 1984. The meme was shared 38,000 times, liked 121,000 times and had more than 3,000 comments.
I’ve found most are from people who are misinformed. Most who stand with Chick-fil-A think this is an issue of “free speech” trying to be squashed. Clearly they don’t have an understanding that free speech happens in both directions. Anyone can say whatever the hell they want. And when they say that thing, they have to be willing to face the consequences. And then the other side has free speech as well – to do things like arrange boycotts if you like, or educate the public.
Many think people are just upset because Dan Cathy expressed his opinion on something and some didn’t like that opinion. Some of us have been working to get the message out there that this is not at all about his opinion on marriage equality, it’s about the millions of CFA dollars he’s spent on anti-gay hate groups. As outlined in an earlier post, he’s given over $5 million to groups that (among many other things) try to cure gay people and fight to have gay people put to death in Uganda.
But back to my original question. What is it about this particular moment in history and this particular story that has caused the masses to speak out?
I was talking to a friend earlier who is not terribly active in the LGBT community. He’s gay and married, but doesn’t frequently post things even slightly political on Facebook. He’s shocked at how many friends he’s seen with bigoted opinions. Some who even came to his wedding. I too have seen many comments on things whose opinion I never knew until now.
Even people like Broadway reality performer Bailey Hanks has taken a side. Normally you would think that someone who spends most of their time surrounded by gay people onstage, offstage, in the audience and more than likely cutting her paychecks, would be supportive. But Bailey posted an image to her personal Facebook page clearly coming out in favor of the bigoted fast food chain.
So what is it? Is this really about Chick-fil-A or did we hit a tipping point where those who’ve secretly hated gay people for years feel like their chicken sandwich is worth more than the lives of their gay friends?
Just a little update on the status of Bailey Hanks. Shortly after we tweeted the story to her, she replied that she is a “Proud Christian.” I replied and when I looked for a response, I discovered she’d blocked her account. Bailey, if you’re reading this, we just want to know if you believe it is “Christian” for Chick-fil-A to support anti-gay hate groups and if you believe your co-workers deserve the same rights as you do. It’s all we want to know.
Upon a little further research, Bailey also tweeted her love of the anti-gay fast food chain on Chick-fil-A Appreciation day! I guess it wasn’t just about her “dear friend” who works at CFA.