Tag Archives: Gay

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 Disregards Olympic Charter to Support Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws

13 Aug

Following yesterday’s post about the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision to enforce Rule 50, I looked a little further into the Olympic Charter to see what it says.

imagesRule 50, which IOC officials said yesterday would be enforced should athletes choose to carry a rainbow flag or wear a rainbow pin, states that:

“No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”
This is a rule they admittedly only enforce selectively and would do so in accordance with anti-gay Russian law. Strangely enough in my research I can’t find any time in history where this rule has applied to religious athletes demonstrating their religion in the Olympic sphere despite it happening frequently.
What I did find were the “Fundamental Principles of Olympism.” These 7 fundamentals one would think might trump the 61 rules and by-laws of said rules. Among those are numbers 4 and 6, shared below:
67734. The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.
6. Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.

It would seem that in the interest of covering for Russia’s “Gay Propaganda” law, the IOC has made the decision to utterly disregard 2 of the 7 Fundamental Principles of Olympism.

The Olympic Charter can be read in it’s entirety here.

No, you can’t go back to Chick-fil-A

28 Jan

chick-fil-a-torrance-california-vandalizedIn 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.

KyleXY’s Matt Dallas Quietly Comes Out

7 Jan

matt_dallas_kyle_xyIt seems from a quiet New Year’s tweet, that not only has the handsome boy without a navel from ABC’s KyleXY, actor Matt Dallas is engaged!

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!

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Why I’m Marrying Sean Carlson

5 Dec
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Me at 4 in a rainbow shirt…just sayin.

When I was a little boy, I read all the same books every kid read. I watched all the Disney movies everyone else saw. I knew the happily-ever-afters in and out. The prince found the princess, woke her up with a kiss and they rode off into the sunset.

From the time I was 10, I was also doing musicals so I figured out early on that I was gay. Even though I may have not known what it all meant, I knew I was different and there had to be a reason that those movies weren’t telling the happily-ever-after that played out in my head. So I hid.

That's me on the right...I was Daddy Warbucks in Annie when I was a sophomore in high school.

That’s me on the right…I was Daddy Warbucks in Annie when I was a sophomore in high school.

I went to high school and continued doing musicals and hating sports – ever the cliché, I could neither kick, throw or catch a ball. By then, the only mention of gay people I ever heard was about AIDS. It was the late 80s and being gay was no longer something that was invisible, it was a forbidden, terrible thing to be. Further into my closet I went. That 10 year old voice in my head telling me that marriage would never happen for me grew ever louder.

In college, things seemed to be changing. Despite seeing Matthew Shepard brutally murdered and the AIDS crisis continue, I was growing up – it was time to start standing up for who I was. I came out. But that 10 year old in my head was still shouting “You’ll never get married – people like you will never be good enough for that.”

Me with my best friend Laura (now a Tony Winner and huge TV star) and Julia (a huge Broadway star) at one of the first concerts I produced.

Me with my best friend Laura (now a Tony Winner and huge TV star) and Julia (a huge Broadway star) at one of the first concerts I produced.

After college, I moved to New York. I worked in theatre, produced Broadway concerts, and became a voice actor for Pokémon and dozens of other cartoons. I was out and I was happy – I even had a few relationships. I was never wealthy, but I made ends meet. I was fighting for equality and it felt right, but strangely enough – I still had that little boy’s voice echoing in my head telling me I’d never have that day – the same one I’d seen my brothers through and stood by as my best friend was married, twice. It wasn’t something that made me angry – ever. It was something I’d just accepted as fact.

An autumn afternoon in DC

An autumn afternoon in DC

A few years later, I was putting together a rally to fight the anti-gay military policy, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I’d brought a bus full of people from New York to DC for the event and the night before, I was running to different gay bars around the city to promote the rally. I walked into Nellie’s sports bar and a man walked up to me. He said “You’re not from here, are you?” “How do you know?” I replied. “You’re carrying a big gay metro DC map. Which of course I was, with rainbow flags emblazoned over all the gay bars. He grabbed half my flyers and spent the rest of the night chatting and getting people to join us for the rally the next morning.

And then this happened.

And then this happened.

Flash forward a year and a half and I was living in Washington DC with Sean. It was New Year’s Eve and we were celebrating in a cozy gay bar with about 40 friends. As the countdown approached, no one was watching the TV, everyone had turned to face Sean and I. I immediately knew something was up. Sean hugged me and whispered into my ear “I have to ask you something.” With tears in his eyes, and having created the public spectacle he knew an actor from New York would clearly love – Sean got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.

And for the first time in my life, I no longer hear that 10-year old’s voice.

We both now work as organizers in DC, fighting for equality and teaching others how to fight for the things they care most about. We still don’t make a lot of money, but we’re happy – happier than a lot of people I know. We’re not wealthy, but we make ends meet. And next May, we’re going to get married in Provincetown, MA. This isn’t too far from where I grew up and where my mom (whose health won’t allow her to travel too far) can get to fairly easily. Happily, some friends are pitching in to help us have the wedding we really want and we couldn’t be more grateful.

I’m marrying Sean Carlson because he is strong and he is a person I laugh with more than any other person I’ve ever met. i’ve watched him grow and have enjoyed growing with him. Sean is someone whose values I share. We spend evenings sometimes violently agreeing with one another on the important things we hold most dear to our hearts. On top of that, he loves my dog Eli – truly, the two are inseparable. I’m marrying Sean to honor that 10-year old who never dared dream of what I might one day have. And I’m marrying him because I love him.

We understand that us getting married is bound to be a political statement – and while that’s clearly not the reason we’re getting married, I can’t help but hope some 10-year old kid out there doing Evita reads this and realizes that there is nothing that’s too good for him.

If you’d like to help us have the wedding we hope to have – and after helping those who need it most you have an extra dollar or two, please visit our little fundraising page. Thanks again for reading our blog and we wish you the happiest of holidays.

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!

Read this letter from Obama to a little girl and try not to cry

4 Nov

On Tuesday, we have an extraordinarily important decision to make. Many look at the economy and wish the recovery was happening more rapidly. Some would like to see a larger return on their stocks. And a select few look at their family and hope each day for the same protections most every other family in the country currently has.

You might remember a letter I posted last week from young Sophia Bailey Klugh.

10 year-old Sophia penned a letter to President Barack Obama. In the letter, she told the President how happy she was that he agreed with her on the topic of marriage equality. You see, young Sophia has two dads.

She continued on and asked the President an important question.

“I am so glad that you agree two men can love each other because I have two dads and they love each other, but at school kids think that it’s gross and weird, but it really hurts my heart and feelings…If you were me and you had two dads that loved each other and kids at school teased you about it, what would you do?”

Well, lo and behold, in the middle of his fight to be re-elected, the President took some important time to share a little advice with a little girl.

Dear Sophia,

Thank you for writing me such a thoughtful letter about your family. Reading it made me proud to be your president and even more hopeful about the future of our nation.

In America, no two families look the same. We celebrate this diversity. And we recognize that whether you have two dads or one mom what matters above all is the love we show one another. You are very fortunate to have two parents who care deeply for you. They are lucky to have such an exceptional daughter in you.

Our differences unite us. you and I are blessed to live in a country where we are born equal no matter what we look like on the outside, where we grow up, ow who our parents are. A good rule is to treat others the way you hope they will treat you. Remind your friends at school about this rule if they say something that hurts your feelings.

Thanks again for taking the time to write me. I’m honored to have your support and inspired by your compassion. I’m sorry I couldn’t make it to dinner, but I’ll be sure to tell Sasha and Malia you say hello.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama

Governor Mitt Romney’s campaign recently stated that he believes gay and lesbian families visiting one another in the hospital is a privilege and not a right. Additionally, he has spoken out against gay parents adopting children. Finally, the Governor has pledged to write discrimination against LGBT people into the US Constitution.

I hope that young Sophia wakes up on Wednesday morning to find there’s someone in the White House who believes her family should have the same protections as every other family in the country.

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