Archive | March, 2011

Stonewall, LA Principal Punishes 8th Grader Wearing Gay Positive T-Shirt

21 Mar

In the ironically-named Stonewall, Louisiana, it seems the principal of DeSoto Middle School is the one who needs some schooling.

Though students are usually required to wear a uniform, eighth grader Dawn Henderson had earned the right to dress casually to school. So she sported a t-shirt that read “Some kids are gay and that’s o.k.”

Dawn had the shirt covered by a zip-up, but word still spread around until she was told by the principal that she needed to change the shirt immediately. According to Dawn, “He basically told me he thought it was a distraction…My opinion is any shirt can be distracting.”

Principal Keith Simmons couldn’t be reached for a comment as of this afternoon, but we hope to be speaking with him soon.

Meanwhile, the t-shirt is available at FCKH8.com.

PHOTOS: GLAAD Awards Featuring Ricky Martin, Andy Cohen and More

20 Mar DSC_0581

The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and the issues that affect their lives.

Over the years, GLAAD has done the work which has paved the way for so many of us to live openly in the world. This year, they celebrate their 25th anniversary and their history shows us exactly how far we have come.

Enjoy the photos from tonight’s event. Other awards not presented this evening are listed here. Additional categories will be presented at the GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles on April 10 and in San Francisco on May 14. The following were the awards presented last night.

  • Excellence in Media Award: Russell Simmons
  • Vito Russo Award:  Ricky Martin
  • Outstanding Drama Series: True Blood (HBO) [Accepted by: Denis O'Hare]
  • Outstanding Individual Episode (in a series without a regular LGBT character):  “Klaus & Greta” 30 Rock (NBC) [Accepted by: Tina Fey]
  • Outstanding Digital Journalism – Multimedia: “Bridal Bliss: Aisha and Danielle” by Bobbi Misick (Essence.com) [Accepted by: Aisha Mills and Danielle Moodie, with Essence.com editor, Emil Wilbekin]

The following is a list of all other award recipients announced at the 22nd Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York.

  • Outstanding Talk Show Episode: “Ricky Martin Coming Out as a Gay Man and a New Dad” The Oprah Winfrey Show (syndicated)
  • Outstanding TV Journalism – Newsmagazine: “Gay Teen Suicides” (series) Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN)
  • Outstanding Newspaper Article: “Rutgers Student Tyler Clementi’s Suicide Spurs Action Across U.S.” by Judy Peet (The Star-Ledger [Newark, N.J.])
  • Outstanding Newspaper Columnist: Frank Rich (The New York Times)
  • Outstanding Newspaper Overall Coverage: Denver Post
  • Outstanding Magazine Article: “What Happens When You Find the One…And He’s Nothing – Nothing – Like You Expected?” by Allison Cooper (O, The Oprah Magazine)
  • Outstanding Magazine Overall Coverage: The Advocate/Out
  • Outstanding Digital Journalism Article: “View From Washington” (series) by Kerry Eleveld (Advocate.com)
  • Outstanding Blog: Joe. My. God. (http://joemygod.blogspot.com/)
  • Outstanding Music Artist: Scissor Sisters, Night Work (Downtown Records)
  • Outstanding Comic Book: X-Factor by Peter David (Marvel Comics)
  • Outstanding Los Angeles Theater: Something Happened by L. Trey Wilson
  • Outstanding New York Theater: Broadway & Off–Broadway: The Pride by Alexi Kaye Campbell
  • Outstanding New York Theater: Off–Off Broadway: When Last We Flew by Harrison David Rivers

All photos copyright Jamie McGonnigal, TalkAboutEquality.com – for reprint permission, please email talkaboutequality@gmail.com


Ricky Martin

Ricky Martin

 

Wilson Cruz

 

Tina Fey

 

Sandra Lee and her niece

 

Sahara Davenport, Manila Luzon and friends

 

Sandra Lee and the Fabulous Beekman Boys Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge

 

True Blood's Denis O'Hare

 

Wilson Cruz and his boyfriend

 

Tina Fey

 

Erik Bottcher and friends

 

The team from ALL OUT

 

Ru Paul's Drag Race's Manila Luzon and Sahara Davenport

MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell and his chief of staff

 

Outstanding Blog winner, Joe Jervis of JoeMyGod.com

 

The Fabulous Beekman Boys Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge

 

An Awkward Lunch With Mrs. Mesheau: How Teachers Change the World

18 Mar

Mrs. Mesheau was the toughest teacher in the Grace Farrar Cole School in Norwell, MA. You wandered from 1st to 2nd to 3rd grade hearing stories of how horrible it would be if you wound up with Mrs. Mesheau when you got into 6th grade. Stories of strict rules, public humiliation and the “Mesheau Glare” haunted every 5th grader in the summer before that first day of 6th grade.

She was an older troll-like woman who smelled of stale cigarettes and regret. She required every student have an American Heritage Dictionary in their desk at all times with their last name emblazoned in black sharpie across the side of the book. She’d toss out random words and point at you. If you didn’t know the definition, you were required to stand up and recite the definition to the class – branding you an “idiot” for the rest of the day.

6th grade was not unlike every other grade for me – I was fairly quiet and reserved because every time I opened my mouth, someone would make fun of me. I was picked on mercilessly, thrown into thorny bushes after school and spent my recesses playing “spank the babies” with the girls (it was basically “tag” but if you got caught, you had to be spanked by the person who tagged you – wow. yeah, things were different then).

Then one day in the Spring, I was in line at the cafeteria spending my 25 cents on the little carton of milk when I smelled her behind me. Her chubby nicotined fingers wrapped around my tiny arm and she said “come with me, we’re eating in the classroom.” I immediately panicked and wondered what I’d done wrong. Sweating, I followed her.

We sat down and she said to me, “Jamie, I notice you’re not having a very good time in school. I see what the other kids do to you, how they treat you.” I nodded my head as I ripped the cellophane off the plastic half-sandwich container which concealed my peanut butter and fluff. She went on, “Don’t listen to them…they don’t really matter.” I sat in silence, still somewhat frightened that I was somehow in trouble and that I’d become another story passed-down to the 1st graders to terrify them. “I want you to know that you should be exactly who you are and be the great person I know you’re going to be.” I sat in silence.

Of course these aren’t direct quotes as I wasn’t carrying a tape recorder and my memory of 6th grade has grown somewhat misty at this point, but I do remember her telling me I was going to be a great person someday and specifically that I should be exactly who I am. I also distinctly remember her telling me to not tell anyone about our meeting because she had an image to uphold, and with a wink, she lit her cigarette and told me to go back to the cafeteria.

Teachers play such an enormous part in our young lives and tonight, when I googled Carol Mesheau, I made the sad discovery that she’d passed a few years ago at the age of 77. It makes me sad that I was never able to tell her what a difference she made in my life, but somehow, somewhere – I can’t help but imagine that she knew. I couldn’t have been the only kid she took off her mask for.

I was thinking about Mrs. Mesheau today when I received an email about the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) Educator of the Year award. While the form they ask you to fill out asks you to talk about specific work your nominee has done for the LGBT students and such, I think the most important thing any teacher can do for a student is to let them know that they should be proud of exactly who they are.

So thank you Mrs. Mesheau, and all you educators out there who are making differences in the lives of your students, one awkward lunch at a time.

MILESTONE: Nationwide Majority Supports Marriage Equality

18 Mar

photo by Jamie McGonnigal, TalkAboutEquality.com

In a new poll conducted last week by ABC News/Washington Post, a milestone has been reported. For the first time since we’ve been measuring it, support for marriage equality has surpassed 50% nationwide.

From a 32% low in 2004, support has grown to 53%, up 18 points in just seven years. Our favorite part of the research though is this single passage:

“While younger adults and liberals remain at the forefront of support for gay marriage, the new results underscore its expansion. In an ABC/Post poll five and a half years ago, for example, under-30s were the sole age group to give majority support to gay marriage, at 57 percent. Today it’s 68 percent in that group – but also 65 percent among people in their 30s, up a remarkable 23 points from the 2005 level; and 52 percent among those in their 40s, up 17 points.”

This is truly exciting news. Let’s hope our elected representatives catch on to this wonderful trend and start voting with the conscience of the people.

Fagbug Vandalized Again

17 Mar

Erin Davies in the fagbug

Okay, so I’ve wanted to do a story on Erin Davies and her incredible journey for a while now. While I have not been able to make things work out with an interview yet, it just so happens that she turned up in my newsfeed again tonight.

Four years ago, Erin walked out of class to find her Volkswagen Bug vandalized with the words “fag” and “UR Gay.” Instead of getting it scrubbed off and quietly going on her way, Erin created a movement. This work that Erin did was documented by her in an incredible and simple documentary called Fagbug, which I happened to order from Amazon a few weeks ago.

In the film, she documents her travels across the country, hoping to educate communities on what happened to her and how we can change things. After a year of her work, she decided to giver her car a makeover, covering it in a bright rainbow.

This past Tuesday, while visiting the SUNY Plattsburgh campus, before she was set to speak- she found the words “Faggets, Dikes Need to Die” emblazoned on her car.

Police are currently investigating the hate crime and local news outlets are reporting on it.

If you haven’t seen the film, please order it here.

Ryan Miner: A Sincere Apology

17 Mar

I got this follow up message, via twitter, from Ryan Miner. I think it explains a lot. Reposted here in full.  In my humble opinion this is a great start.

A Lesson Learned But Never Forgotten:

If I could share only one lesson with college students ready to land that perfect job, remember the lesson of Ryan Miner. Who is Ryan Miner? Let’s do a Google search. Oh no. What was this guy thinking when he created that Facebook group and used the word subhuman to describe homosexual conduct? Who does this guy think he is? Does he still believe that homosexuals are subhuman? And good luck to him when he is trying to find a decent job.

My name is Ryan Miner. When I was a 19 year-old undergraduate student at Duquesne University I created a Facebook group in opposition to a proposal to allow a Gay-Straight Alliance to form on campus. I used the term subhuman to lament homosexuality. I could not have been more wrong. My words were unabashedly despicable and unambiguously insensitive. My actions were the antithesis of the same faith I used to defend myself, and it was an indelibly poor reflection on my personal character. I embarrassed my family, my friends, my hometown, and Duquesne University. I was in no position to cast such blatant judgment, and I pray that I can be forgiven and learn from this awful experience.

As a result of the media attention and the emerging technology of this decade, I am infinitely attached to my mistake in the annals of Google. The stories you read from the Google results paint a polar opposite picture of who I am today. However, actions inevitably and invariably have consequences, and the reckless comments I made at 19 continue to plague me in my professional career. I have been denied employment and was even terminated from a great opportunity as a result of the incident at Duquesne. I am now looking to expand my career, but each time I submit a new resume, a sense of bleak fear overcomes me, wondering whether or not a company will Google my name only to toss my resume in the trash and move to the next applicant. If only I could relay to a potential employer that my beliefs have changed and I would never engage in that type of behavior in the future. But you reap with you sow, and I will continue to deal with the consequences of my mistake.

Five years ago I was a different person. I saw life through a colorless lens. My heart was cold and my mind was closed, and the darkness I created consumed my life and those around me. I had to change. I had to open my heart and see the world and its people through a lens of love and compassion. So I decided to shut the door of darkness and walk towards the brightness of a new path. I may have been lost, but now I have found who I want to be. I want to be a better man.  The lessons that I learned at Duquesne and especially the lesson from President Obama’s speech to the nation in the aftermath of the tragic shootings in Tucson are this: I can be better. We as a nation can be better. And if our nation can raise above the culture that has defined the dialogue of our differences, then we can find the courage to change the world and set the example for the rest of mankind

So to all the college students who are just beginning to figure out what life is all about, remember to be thoughtful and vigilant with your words and deeds. Think before you act and speak.  If you believe in a cause then take a stand, but use your character to set the terms of discussion.  We can reject the divisions that divide us to the abyss of cultural chaos if we begin to replenish our spirit in one another.  I know how frustrating this path will be, and at times it may be difficult to see past our differences, but we can tear down the wall that separates us, and we can channel our disagreements through respect and still articulate the wisdom of our own principles. It is within the threshold of our generation that we are able to renew the call for civility and unite in what Dr. King called, “the  fierce urgency of now.” We can defy the status quo. We can transcend above the poison that tears us down, and we can elude the inability to recognize ourselves in others if we close the growing deficit that infects our discourse. We can define this moment, and together, united as one, we will usher in the next great chapter in our American narrative.

-Ryan R. Miner

Good on Ryan for unequivocally denouncing his earlier statements.  My call for him to put his words into action still stands. Here is a list of some great organizations to get started:

The Trevor Project

SMYAL

GLAAD

Freedom To Marry

Equality Pennsylvania

Equality Partners of Western Pennsylvania

A Belated Apology. Should We Accept?

17 Mar

Coming out was easily one of the best times of my life. One simple action filled my life with unexpected and wonderful clarity and honesty.  For the first time I was truly being honest with myself and those around me. It was a fresh and invigorating time for me and was very nearly ruined by a fellow student: Ryan Miner.

The very week that I began telling my colleagues and friends, brave students at Duquesne University were attempting to start the first gay straight alliance on our Catholic campus and one student, Miner, stood in their way.  He took to facebook, a brand new platform at the time, and lead the charge against the GSA with characteristic arrogance, filled our community with anti-gay animus, and even went so far as to say that gays were subhuman.

Ryan Miner almost single-handedly created a hostile and disrespectful atmosphere on our campus. Though he eventually lost, his comments helped me understand the stakes for LGBT people and provided the motivation for me to get in the game.

Now he has again taken to the internet seeking absolution:

“I did not measure my words; I did not think clearly. I made a statement in haste and words can sincerely have hurtful consequences, and that’s the message to students or anyone who uses the Internet,” Miner told Channel 4 Action News reporter Shannon Perrine in a Skype interview.

He believes it’s important to tell others to stand up for what you believe in — but to be careful about the words you use to do it.

“You have to have some principles behind you, and at that time, I just didn’t have it. It was immaturity and I’m profoundly sorry,” Miner said.

What you write on the internet lasts forever. Ryan Miner didn’t get it at the time, but now he’s starting to learn the hard way.  After being fired from one job and having difficulty finding others he is finding himself in a Rick Santorum situation (just google it).

Only Ryan knows what’s in his heart now. If he has come around and now regrets his statements, not just how he posted them, then I, as someone most directly affected by his remarks, am willing to forgive him.

But absolution wont come that easy.  He’s still paying for his mistakes, and rightly so. I think a demonstration of his commitment to making it right is in order. Spending a few hours volunteering at an LGBT youth center, making an It Gets Better video, or issuing a public statement about school bullying.

That, more than a surface attempt to fix his Google problem, would go a long way to making it right.

Wedding Contests, Equality & Cheese Domes

16 Mar

Jonathan Howard and Gregory Jones speaking at The Big Commit last summer in DC

Contests. They’re honestly just silly tools for a company to advertise the hell out of itself. We all know that. When you enter a contest, you are either giving up some of your personal time by doing a survey hoping to win a $5,000 Best Buy shopping spree or you’re bringing as many people as possible to a company’s website so they might vote for you and spend money at the store. That’s what it’s truly all about.

But in our current political and social environment we find that contests may have another agenda, perhaps even hidden to the company that is sponsoring it.

Robbie & Allen from this year's Ultimate Wedding Contest (Click on the photo to vote for them!)

Last year, our friends Jonathan Howard and Gregory Jones entered the Crate & Barrel Ultimate Wedding Contest on a whim. They’d applied for their marriage license in DC and were only the 20th couple to do so. As the publicity surrounding the contest grew, Gregory and Jonathan saw the outpouring of support from the LGBT community and our allies to help them win votes. While in the end they came in second, the contest gave a lot of us hope that we could actually be seen as equals. While it doesn’t seem like a huge step to take – entering a contest – it was this seemingly innocuous move which put one of our stories in front of thousands.

This year, we have another gay couple in the top two – Robbie Cronrod and Allen Artcliff from Los Angeles. They have a wonderful story and have been together two years. They’re hoping for your votes.

What I’ve learned from watching Jonathan and Gregory and now Robbie and Allen – is that a contest isn’t just a contest. This particular contest is reaching out and telling our stories to everyone who will listen. And the many gay and lesbian couples who have registered for the contest are doing so bravely. Some may be announcing their relationship for the first time and some may have been together for decades. Either way, I hope we can throw some support behind Robbie and Allen to let them know that a community of support does exist.

 

The Cheese Dome won by Jonathan and Gregory in last year's Ultimate Wedding Contest

Hopefully Robbie & Allen will end up with a cheese dome too…and then some!

Church Choir Ordered to Discriminate Against Gays

16 Mar

The Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, CA, Photo LEONARD ORTIZ, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

This is just a small story with likely more background than I can find right now, but I think it’s interesting.

According to the Associated Press, a megachurch in Southern California is asking it’s CHOIR to sign an anti-gay pledge.

The covenant they have been asked to sign states:

“I understand that in an era where images of family relationship and personal sexuality are often confused, Crystal Cathedral Ministries believes that it is important to teach and model the biblical view. I understand that Crystal Cathedral Ministries teaches that sexual intimacy is intended by God to only be within the bonds of marriage, between one man and one woman.”

It turns out the church has an unsurprisingly colorful history when it comes to corruption – including bankruptcy filings as well as transfers of power that have been filled with turmoil.

What gets me most about this story though, is that it is the CHOIR which is being targeted. The church is millions in debt and they feel that targeting gay people who are singing in the choir is where their focus should be. Happily, several choir members have spoken up. Former choir member Anne Moore-Waltz said this:

“If I were still in the choir and if that was presented to me, and if a gay person had walked out, I would have walked out with him or her,” she said. “If you are a Christian group and people come to you, you should be a good servant, love them and shine the light of Jesus on them – regardless of who they are.”

Another choir member who has been there for 19 years spoke on condition of anonymity:

“I have already told them I won’t sign it, we have had gays in the choir before. I’m not gay. But I don’t believe in what they’re saying.”

It is this kind of education and this kind of support that we need as a community. And the more we tell people who we are, the more support like this we will receive. Religion is wonderful for some and many find great solace in that. But when your religion is in such great contrast with what you believe as a human being, when religion speaks directly against your moral values, it’s time to say something.

Status Update Reveals Story of Fallen Gay Soldier

11 Mar

Some of you may have caught this recent status update on facebook in the past 24 hours, pitting the media coverage of Charlie Sheen’s mental deterioration against it’s lack of coverage of fallen soldiers this week. It reads something like this:

“Charlie Sheen is all over the news because he’s a celebrity drug addict,” it said, “while Andrew Wilfahrt 31, Brian Tabada 21, Rudolph Hizon 22, Chauncy Mays 25, are soldiers who gave their lives this week with no media mention. Please honor them by posting this as your status for a little while.”

CNN Blogger Wayne Drash decided to do some research and hopefully give some of these brave heroes their due in whatever way he could. He began by calling the father of Cpl. Andrew Wilfahrt, who agreed with the viral posting.

Cpl. Andrew Charles Wilfahrt

Jeff Wilfahrt agreed with the viral posting and gave the blogger a little backround on his son. He told him of some of Andrew’s likes and dislikes, including the fact that he was anti-war among other things. and then he added: “He was a gay soldier.”

“He didn’t have a child and a wife,” Jeff Wilfahrt said. “In a way, he went over so that somebody with a young family wouldn’t die.”

“I’m so proud of him and his service.”

His voice breaks. It’s likely his son is among the first gay soldiers to die in combat since Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed in December. “I’d do anything to honor my son.”

Please take the time to read this entire piece and share the background and story behind this supposedly innocuous facebook status update.

 

h/t: TAE Friend, Kappy Griffith

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 927 other followers