Tag Archives: Bullying

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.

Sometimes it really does get better.

23 Aug

This is something that’s already been shared all over, but I couldn’t help but post it. Too frequently we speak about things that make us angry. Now here’s a little something about people doing the right thing.

Virginia college student Jordan Addison had been tormented by classmates and had his car repeatedly vandalized with anti-gay epithets and “DIE” keyed into his door. Being a college student, Jordan simply couldn’t afford to get his car fixed.

That’s when local business owners stepped in. Check out this video and break out the kleenex.

Why do Arizona cops let people chase kids with guns?

3 Jul

For four months now, Felix Bermia, his husband Roy and their four young children have been terrorized in their own home.

Violent rapping on their doors and windows when the kids are home alone,  hateful slurs keyed into their vehicles, fires lit on their lawn and around their property and even a break-in with more vandalism and slurs on the walls. Then just last week, two men stepped out of an SUV and pulled a gun on the two young boys and chased them home.

Since the first incident, Felix has called the police 14 times. The story received some national attention in the past few weeks and added pressure for the local authorities to take some action, but they’ve come up empty-handed. There’s a young girl who is now afraid to sleep in her own room after vandals wrote anti-gay profanity on her pastel walls, with her stuffed animals lying all around.

Despite this marathon session of this constant harassment, vandalism and terror inflicted on the family, the police magically have yet to be able to find a single person who knows anything about the crimes.

The local authorities have issued a statement claiming they’ve been on top of these incidents, despite no action seemingly being taken until after 12 phone calls reporting the crimes.

Lou Colagiovanni at the Examiner outlines the history of events and points out that there will be a rally on July 14th to bring further attention to the police department’s apparent lack of attention to the matter.

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.

 

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.

BULLY: The Only Thing That’s Changed is the Part in His Hair

11 May

When Mitt Romney was 18 years old, he was a bully. A story in the Washington Post goes into great detail about a time when a high school-aged Romney lead a screaming mob of students to chase, pin to the floor and then physically assault a fellow student they assumed to be gay. They took a pair of scissors and chopped off his hair after Romney observed “He can’t look like that. That’s wrong! Just look at him!”

We’ve heard this story all over the internet, on every news station and paper for the past few days. Romney has of course, brushed off the incident. “I participated in a lot of hijinks and pranks during high school, and some might have gone too far…” In another interview, Romney laughed through his responses when questioned on his participation in the anti-gay assault. He also found it funny when he was questioned about teasing a closeted gay student by responding “Atta Girl!” to the young man’s responses in the classroom. He impressively remembered the detail that he didn’t think of his fellow student as gay, but strangely couldn’t remember that time he chased him down and chopped off all his hair.

Those defending Romney are parroting his responses, passing off what a kid today would get arrested for as silly teenage pranks. And it’s true. Kids do stupid things. As a friend put it today, “that’s why kids are tried in court as kids.” It certainly doesn’t excuse their behavior, but we have a cultural understanding that growing up means maturing and evolving in your views and your actions. The problem here is that Romney hasn’t evolved. His bullying of gay people has continued well-into his adulthood. He may not be leading mobs to assault defenseless teenagers, but he’s certainly working to make sure we remain pinned to the floor, the scissors posed just next to our faces.

As Governor of Massachusetts, Romney had to make some compromises. On several occasions, he purported to support the LGBT community including the endorsement of an LGBT Youth Rally on Boston Common, his support of Gay Pride (which his campaign has thoroughly denied despite the evidence), and a declaration of support for full federal equality for gays & lesbians when he ran for Senate against Ted Kennedy.

What we didn’t see then though, according to a 2006 Boston Globe article, was a virulently anti-gay Romney seeking to curtail the state’s initiatives to support LGBT youth:

“Angered that his name appeared on a press release touting a gay pride parade, Governor Mitt Romney moved yesterday to curtail the activities of a 14-year-old advisory commission on gay and lesbian youth.

The commission chairwoman, Kathleen M. Henry, said she was called yesterday by Beth Myers, the governor’s chief of staff, who told her that the governor planned to issue an executive order ”revoking our existence” and creating another youth commission whose purview would be all of the state’s youth, not just gays and lesbians. The commission would have all new members, she said.”

His anti-gay actions as governor of Massachusetts didn’t end there. He went on to veto funding for “intervention services and crisis housing for sexual violence in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community,” according to a 2006 article in the Patriot Ledger. In 2003 & 2004, Romney also vetoed funding for suicide prevention and intervention efforts in the state, according to government documents.

As has also been recently discovered that Romney made a $10,000 contribution to the anti-gay hate group, National Organization for Marriage (NOM). The contribution was to aid NOM in their efforts to take marriage rights away from California citizens. Strangely enough, NOM failed to report the Governor’s contribution and an investigation has been demanded.

Romney also joked about the time his father shut down a factory in Michigan, leaving hundreds out of work.

Romney’s lack of respect for the life of those he sees beneath him doesn’t end with gay youth and those who wish to marry. Romney has also brushed off his actions as a dog owner when he strapped his Irish Setter’s crate to the roof of their station wagon for hours of driving. In 1983, the family drove from Boston to Ontario, Canada with the dog defacating all over himself and sitting in the crate for hours. The Romneys pulled over, hosed the dog off and put the now-wet Irish Setter back in the crate and continued their journey. When asked if he’d do it again, Romney laughed and responded “well, not with all the attention it’s received.”

Romney doesn’t mind actively harming others, whether it be pinning a person to the ground and assaulting him with scissors or  clearly taking the life of your own dog for granted. Romney’s responses to his horrific actions as both a young person and an adult clearly prove that he hasn’t grown up. Yes, kids can be horrible and people make mistakes, and we forgive them. But when a man who spends his entire life taking pleasure and even glee in seeing others suffer, we don’t excuse that. And we certainly don’t elect that man to be the most powerful bully person in the world.

VIDEO: Anti-Gay Ministry Hired to Speak at Iowa High School

13 Mar

We’ve spoken here before about Bradlee Dean, the violently anti-gay rocker/radio host who sued Rachel Maddow and MSNBC when Maddow played a clip on her show. The clip was Dean’s voice, quite clearly claiming that it is moral to execute homosexuals. Dean sued because she didn’t also report a disclaimer he’d posted essentially denying his own words.

Anyway, Junkyard Prophet, a project of Dean’s anti-gay “You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide” Ministries, was asked to “perform” at a public high school in Dunkerton, Iowa last week. For the past few days, we’ve been reading some pretty scandalous reports of the things that were said. Dean and his ministry has even gone so far as to argue that they didn’t say the things that are being claimed by students and teachers that were present for the assembly.

According to Dunkerton High School teachers and administrators, the group was supposed to present on anti-drug, anti-violence, anti-bullying themes. Instead, they divided the junior and senior high school into boys, girls and teachers and proceeded to present them with images of aborted fetuses, and dying AIDS patients. Those who tried to leave were shouted down and mocked by members of the group. One student claims she was told to “sit down and shut up” by one of the group’s leaders.

The group of course denies many of the accusations, but last night doubled down on their message. They claim that the average lifespan for homosexuals is 42. This comes from a widely-debunked “study” done by Paul Cameron and the anti-gay Family Research Institute in the 1990s. He based his research on reading a few obituaries each day for a few months and not any actual cumulative, statistically representative research, i.e. – he made it up.

Today, we learn that you can run, but you can’t hide from students with video cameras in their phones. Please watch this clip from what was presented to public high school and junior high school students in Iowa. I can’t help but wonder why not a single teacher or administrator didn’t walk up on stage and end this.

(h/t: Good As You)

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.

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.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 928 other followers