Spirit Day

Oct. 2nd, 2010 10:13 pm
Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] neo_prodigy at Spirit Day

It’s been decided. On October 20th, 2010, we will wear purple in honor of the 6 gay boys who committed suicide in recent weeks/months due to homophobic abuse in their homes at at their schools. Purple represents Spirit on the LGBTQ flag and that’s exactly what we’d like all of you to have with you: spirit. Please know that times will get better and that you will meet people who will love you and respect you for who you are, no matter your sexuality. Please wear purple on October 20th. Tell your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors and schools.

RIP Tyler Clementi, Seth Walsh (top)
RIP Justin Aaberg, Raymond Chase (middle)
RIP Asher Brown and Billy Lucas. (bottom)

REBLOG to spread a message of love, unity and peace.

With Boston Pride coming up next week, the issue of “pride” and being out is on my mind of late.

One reason why civil rights for sexual minorities—from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and marriage rights—are so very important at this time is because of the demolition of the closet. It’s not just a matter of how living your life in the closet is unhealthy (and it is), it soon may not even be a viable option.

The spread of social networking, issues surrounding online privacy, and studies like “Project Gaydar” at MIT are demonstrating that the conservative idea that minority sexual orientation is something that should remain “private” (i.e., should not be revealed or talked about in the public sphere) is built on a rapidly erroding foundation. It used to be relatively easy to compartmentalize and keep different aspects of one’s life separate. You could have a circle of gay friends and family and a circle of straight friends and family, for example, even live two (or more) different lives. But what happens when they all share your online friends list and “meet” in the virtual space of places like Facebook?

Sure, you might not have a Facebook account but, as the MIT study reveals, even sharing your photos on Flickr or your playlists on iTunes may tip your hand in terms of aspects of your life you think are private, from your sexual orientation to your political affiliation, your hobbies, or your spiritual beliefs. As more and more communication and life in general moves into the vastly distributed network on the Internet, it becomes harder and harder to cut one’s self off from it. “Privacy” may come at the price of being a virtual hermit (so to speak). Even now, not having an email address is as big an anachronism as not having a telephone number. Soon, not having an online identity may well be the same, and that raises questions about the management of said identity.

If you think maintaining the lie of living in the closet was hard before, just imagine it multiplied by a hundred or a thousand; maintaining not only constant vigilance over your own behavior, but also over the behavior of everyone you know, all in real time. The closet is a rapidly shrinking box, more and more uncomfortable to live in than ever. Gay pride and gay rights issues are going to come to a decision point because the default position of the opposition (go back to being invisible so we don’t have to deal with you) is very soon not even going to be a real option (in as much as it ever was). When there’s nowhere to retreat, nowhere to hide, then you have no choice but to fight.

Or, as the gay civil rights chant goes: “We’re here, we’re queer ... get used to it!”

The trends of history and technology say you may have no other choice.
Remember my post about the marriage referrendum in Maine? The recent vote on marriage rights in the NY state legislature is demonstration of the kind of mindset such referrenda encourage: that gay rights, civil rights, are somehow “optional” – things to be voted upon. That “all men are created equal” has exceptions.

There are already protests happening in New York and that’s good, because we are going to have to demand our rights and some accountability from the elected officials who court us during elections and then think they can ignore us once they’re in office.

Like I said before, this isn’t over by a long shot.
I’m a churning mix of emotions this morning reading about the passage of Ballot Question 1 in Maine, rejecting a state law legalizing same-sex marriage. I feel angry, sad, and nauseous. I’m also struck by the number of people (on Facebook and elsewhere in my online social networks) who are completely unaware of the whole thing. Why should they be, after all? It’s not their state and, quite often, not their issue.

Here’s why what just happened in Maine matters: it not only reinforces the idea of shoving gay people back into the closet and encourages the forces of discrimination in this country, it supports the idea that the majority should get to decide on the rights of the minority. Think about that for a moment. Consider what it is like to have your personal rights, your future, decided by a public referrendum of people with basically no stake in giving you anything, and likely some reasons to leave things as they are. It’s called “the tyranny of the majority” and it is a key reason why the judiciary in our country is supposed to have the power to say “no” to majority decisions that violate the spirit or letter of the rule of law.

Opponents of minority rights get all up in arms about “activist judges” who are “legislating from the bench.” They whip people up into a mob mentality over how their right to vote, their ability to decide is being “taken away from them.” Well, here’s news for you: sometimes the majority is just plain wrong. Sometimes, society needs an independent judiciary, with the kind of tenure it takes to stand up to the majority and say, “This is what is right and fair and in the spirit of our laws.” More often than not, these decisions are progressive: after all, if they didn’t go against majority opinion, then they wouldn’t be necessary in the first place, would they?

How long would it have taken the majority of voters to outlaw slavery, or segregation, or establish civil rights, or a woman’s right to control her own body, or any of the numerous landmark decisions of the US Supreme Court? Would they have done them yet?

If there are any “activists” in all of this trying to take anything away form anyone, it is the anti-civil rights and so-called “pro-marriage” types, who not only want to ensure gay people don’t get the same rights they currently enjoy (not “special rights,” the same rights as everyone) but also want to undermine one of the fundamental elements of our system of law and government when it fails to serve their agenda. They resort to mob rule tactics because it’s all they have left: whipping people up with fear-mongering and sending them rushing to the polls to stop “those people” from carrying out the vague threats promised in attack ads and editorials. It’s the modern, electoral version of angry peasants with torches and pitchforks, a latter-day witch-hunt.

What happened yesterday in Maine, and previously in California, may have been legal, and may have been democracy in action, but don’t for a minute think that it was fairness or justice. The state can legislate that I am less of a person than others all it wants. The fearful majority can try to take away my rights. But I know the truth, and they can never take away my dignity, self-worth, or my willingness to fight for those rights that are due all people; not just for myself, but for the generations who will look back and wonder at the culture that could have been so narrow-minded and afraid.

This is far from over.
So, October 11th is National Coming Out Day, for those who might not know. I’m posting this now so folks can see it, since, well, Sunday is a game-day, and I’ve got stuff to do...

I’ve already covered my favorite “coming out” story on LJ. So I figured I would say a few words about questions like “Why a National Coming Out Day? Why is being ‘out’ so important?” After all, isn’t sexual orientation a private matter? Are queer people “flaunting” our “lifestyle” by “putting in the town square what belongs in the privacy of the bedroom?” Am I going to “stop” using “quotes” any time soon? (Not likely...)

It’s difficult to explain the concept of being out to somebody who has never had to hide their sexual orientation, to hide a major part of who they are, out of fear of rejection, condemnation, or even violence. A recent example:

When discussing the question of inclusiveness in RPGs and related settings, someone inevitably says something like: “Well, it’s just a non-issue in my games, because sexuality and sexual matters never come up.”

To which I respond: “Really? Never? The characters in your stories have no parents or families? There are no weddings, engagements, or romances? No stories based around lovers: star-crossed, spurned, or otherwise? No couples, married or not? No love-triangles? No love, even if it’s just told in the legend about why the treasure-filled dungeon is there?”

Although they call it “sexual orientation” and “homosexuality” it is about so much more than just sex. It is about attraction, flirtation, romance, partnership, and, most importantly the very nature of the relationships with the most important people in your life. It’s about life. Our lives.

Imagine never being able to talk about your significant other in anything other than the most bland, sanitized platonic terms. Not just your current romantic- or life-partner(s), but any previous ones you’ve had, too. Imagine not being able to openly mention finding someone attractive, even in passing, or talking about your friends, for fear of exposing the truth about them, too. Imagine the family gatherings where you’re asked “So, when are you going to find someone and settle down?” and you want to say “But I have been for years now, we’re building a life together,” but you can’t. If you can imagine that, then you’re touching just the outer edge of why I treasure the ability to be open about such things, and why I refuse to stop being open about them.

I was born just days after queer people in New York City rioted, having finally had enough of police harassment and brutality. When I was taking my first breaths, being gay was illegal in nearly every part of the country, and there was no such thing as “gay rights”. Things have changed more in my lifetime than I had expected, but not nearly so much as I have hoped. The greatest force for change in how we are treated is not a PAC or political action group or lobby. It is the willingness, the courage, of ordinary people to be out, to take a chance, to defy the fear, and rejection, and even the violence and be seen and heard, because it’s easy to malign and oppress “those people” when you think you don’t know any, and a different matter when you realize that you do. If you’re reading this, you do.

Happy Coming Out Day, everybody.
Yes, it’s National Coming Out Day again. I already covered my favorite “coming out” story last year, so you can feel free to click over and read it but, just so you know...

stevekenson: (flaming)
Interesting op-ed piece from Stephen Benjamin, former Navy Arabic translator discharged under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, along with dozens of other qualified Arabic linguists... not that such men and women are at all needed in the military at this time. The key points:

“Consider: more than 58 Arabic linguists have been kicked out since “don’t ask, don’t tell” was instituted. How much valuable intelligence could those men and women be providing today to troops in harm’s way?”

“As the friends I once served with head off to 15-month deployments, I regret I’m not there to lessen their burden and to serve my country. I’m trained to fight, I speak Arabic and I’m willing to serve. No recruiter needs to make a persuasive argument to sign me up. I’m ready, and I’m waiting.”

How does this fail to be considered “not supporting our troops” while any talk of actually bringing them home or providing them the support they need is “defeatist” and “weakening morale”? Maybe the President believes God will provide translation, speaking in tongues style...

Let's Dance

Jun. 8th, 2007 01:59 pm
Over at Joe. My. God. is a great essay on why Gay Pride events are (and remain) important. Money quote:

“Possibly you’ve heard the Jewish in-joke that sums up the meaning of all Jewish holidays? ‘They tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat.’ My Pride version? ‘They wish we were invisible. We’re not. Let’s dance.’”

That’s exactly what I’m doing tomorrow night. Happy Pride Day in advance!
stevekenson: (lance)
In a continued brilliant streak of nominations, apparently the President’s choice for Surgeon General, Dr. James Holsinger, Jr., founded a chruch that, among other things, helps “cure” people of being gay. Look for an interesting Senate confirmation hearing.
New Hampshire has become the fourth state to allow civil unions for same-sex couples. Governor Lynch signed the bill into law today, it takes effect January 1, 2008. Naturally, the grumbling and grousing from those unaffected in the slightest by this new law (namely religious and social conservatives who are, surprisingly, not required to “gay marry”) is near-constant, but right now, I don’t care.



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