Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Queer Rising Protests Cuts for Homeless LGBTQ Teens

My video footage of Saturday night's demonstration in Times Square:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Boycott the Blue Bunny?

Mmmmmmm!  Tasty, and just a few colors short of a rainbow.

Blue Bunny Ice Cream is finding itself at the center of a controversy. What could this company, the third largest manufacturer of ice cream in the United States, have possibly done to cause people to be calling for a boycott of its delicious products?

Well, it all starts with THE FAMiLY LEADER's 14-point Marriage Fidelity Pledge, which asserts (among other things) that homosexuality is a choice and that people of color had stronger family units during the era of slavery. 

The President of THE FAMiLY LEADER is Bob Vander Plaats, serial Iowa gubernatorial candidate and long-time anti-LGBTQ activist. Bob was one of the leaders behind the successful movement to recall the three Iowa Supreme Court judges who ruled that Iowa could not deny same-sex couples the right to marry. Bob believes that homosexuality is a "public health risk," just like second-hand smoke:

And here's Bob enjoying a relaxed moment laughing at a "fag" joke:

Now how could this involve something as innocuous as ice cream?

Bob enjoys considerable financial support from Mike Wells and his family, and Mike is the CEO and President of Wells Enterprises, manufacturers of Blue Bunny and Weight Watchers ice creams as well as Disney ice cream novelties. (You'll see the Wells family name featured prominently in the center of the Blue Bunny logo.)

Quickly responding to the growing controversy, Blue Bunny has posted the following statement on their website:
Regarding Recent Posts About Political Contributions: 
Blue Bunny and Wells Enterprises have never donated money to Bob Vander Plaat’s political campaign. Everyone, including our employees, has a right to support political activities within their role as a private citizen. What our employees support personally is in no way an endorsement by our brand or our company.

Technically, of course, they're right. Unlike Target, for example, Blue Bunny as a corporation has not contributed to Vander Plaats' political campaigns. But we're not talking about the contributions of an individual, low-level employee of Wells Enterprises. We're talking about the CEO and President.

Consider the contributions made by individual members of the Wells family:
  • $184,500 from Wells family members for Bob Vander Plaats' 2010 gubernatorial race. (The Wells family were the largest source of his campaign funding in 2010.) 
  • $246,000 from Wells family members for his 2006 gubernatorial race.
  • $25,500 from Wells family members for his 2002 gubernatorial race.
  • $25,500 to the Iowa Family Center PAC, a group associates with the FAMiLY Leader.

So even though the corporation may not have directly contributed to Vander Plaats, the fact is that most of the profits from your purchase of Blue Bunny's products go straight into the Wells family's pockets, and from there, into Vander Plaats'.

So, as much as I may like ice cream, as long as the Wells family continues to fund extreme right-wing candidates such as Vander Platts, I'm going to have to find a more friendly and supportive source to satisfy my addiction. Anyone care to join me for a dish of Ben & Jerry's Hubby Hubby?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Marriage Equality Comes to New York!

It's Pride weekend here in New York City and I have waaaay too many places to be to sit at home editing the videos I shot last night of the celebration in Sheridan Square. I'll have the footage ready to post early next week, but in the meantime, just to give you an idea as to the size of the crowd, here's a brief hint of what is to come:

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Obama Reacts to AZ Law Accepting Certificate of Circumcision as Proof of Citizenship

President Obama is clearly upset by the continuing controversy being fed by some members of the GOP concerning his birth certificate. The most recent manifestation of the "birther" issue is the passage of a new law in Arizona which would allow prospective Presidential candidates to prove their citizenship by producing a certificate of circumcision.

While unable to produce such a certificate himself, the President appears to be looking forward to the opportunity of comparing his qualifications to be President with whomsoever the Republican Party nominates.

In an interview with ABC News, the President stated, "Look, I right now have such a big..."

(more after the jump)

" job that I'm not yet focused on what's happening on the other side. There'll be a time when I'm very focused on it."

Saturday, April 16, 2011

AZ to Accept Circumcision as Proof of Citizenship

If you're considering running for President, AZ is now willing to accept your certificate of circumcision as proof that you are a citizen. According to Phoenix New Times, the bill was designed to appease those who subscribe to the birther fantasy.

I'm not certain how that will affect potential women candidates, but most of the male candidates don't have much to worry about. They sold their testicles years ago to the highest bidder.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO - 5 Arrested in Marriage Equality Civil Disobedience Actions in New York City

From Queer Rising's press release:

Five members of Queer Rising members handcuffed and chained themselves in the middle of the street and refused to leave the demonstration.  Those arrested were: Natasha Dillon (26, lesbian activist); Kevin Donohue (51, gay Jewish activist); Melissa Kleckner (31, straight ally); Ali Lozano (20, lesbian student activist); Robert Moore (30, gay Mormon activist).

“My religious beliefs require that I stand up for the underdog - even when that underdog is me,” said Donohue.  “Marriage rights go way beyond the wedding and encompass everything from custody rights to hospital visitation rights to pension and inheritance rights; in short, the protective legal framework straight families take for granted. Inequality under law is unjust, and now is the time we must end it.”

Drag Queen Weddings for Equality organized a separate event at Grand Central Station, a drag wedding in which approximately ten drag queens officiated and enacted a wedding, educating commuters about the need for marriage equality and inviting them to march in solidarity to the governor's office.

In January, Cuomo declared, “I want to be the Governor who signs the law that makes equality a reality in the state of New York.”  The New York State Budget deadline was March 31 and there is still no confirmation that there will be consideration for marriage equality.

Unwilling to wait any longer for equal rights and protection from the state of New York, Queer Rising is calling on all the New Yorkers to call the governor’s office and voice their support for marriage equality.

Melissa Kleckner, another arrestee, said, "When my husband and I married five years ago, we were automatically granted 1,324 rights and privileges that the LGBTQ community is currently not afforded. I refuse to let my daughter grow up in a world where a government can tell a segment of its population that they are 'less than.'  This is not a fight for ‘gay’ rights; it is a fight for human rights.  It is my hope that Cuomo and the rest of the powers that be realize that the straight community is also here, we are just as angry, and we will no longer stand on the sidelines.  We are coming out for equality."

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Anti-LGBT Assault - What Can I Do?

Lady B.L.U.E.
In the wake of the most recent anti-LGBT assault in New York's heavily-gay West Village, popular entertainer Lady B.L.U.E. (Beautiful, Loud, Unique, Explosive) asked herself what could she do to help?

Her answer was to put together a benefit show for New York City's Anti-Violence Project. Using Facebook as a tool, she put the word out among her friends, and in 72 hours was hosting the Lady B.L.U.E Show AVP Benefit at one of the West Village's oldest bars, Boots and Saddles.

The bar was packed with a very appreciative audience, loudly cheering the efforts of the talented entertainers who put on an extended show, performing for four-plus hours. The performers included Lady B.L.U.E., Da Cukoo, M'Lady Uppercrust, Vanessa Valtre, Violet Storm, Miss Crimson Kitty, Victoria Chase, Demanda Dahling and Boots and Saddles' regular Thursday night dancer Jamal Alexander.

Lady B.L.U.E. introduces Andrea N. Durojaiye from AVP
Lady B.L.U.E. had never organized a benefit like this before, and when I asked after the show what motivated her to do it, she replied, "I was continually seeing these violent occurances pop up all over our beautiful city and noticed the gays facebooking and twittering about the new Prada shoes they bought or fixating on style over substance... and made a conscious decision to step up and do something positive.... So with out any instruction I made it happen, and I'm so glad I did."

I'm sure AVP is glad, too. All of the performers donated their tips for the night to AVP, and while I had to leave before the show closed, the fishbowl was filled to overflowing with bills - And I know I saw some $20s in there! 

All in all, a very successful and highly entertaining evening. The message of this is simple: If what's happening around you gets you upset, turn that upset into something positive by getting involved! Call your politicians. Find an organization that is addressing the problem and offer to help. It doesn't take a lot to make a contribution.

Well done, Lady B.L.U.E. A true Lady, indeed.

M'Lady Uppercrust


The New York City Anti-Violence Project was founded in 1980 in reaction to neighborhood incidents of anti-LGBT violence and the failure of the criminal legal system to respond.

In the mid-eighties, AVP expanded their work to provide professional counseling to victims of hate violence as well as domestic violence, sexual assault and HIV-related violence.

Today, AVP provides free and confidential assistance to thousands of LGBTQ and HIV-affected people each year. They maintain a 24/7 bilingual hotline staffed by professional counselors and trained volunteers.

Vanessa Valtre
AVP works to educate law enforcement, health care and education professionals, and social service agency personnel on the violence issues, holding these people accountable to their obligation for fair and just treatment of our community. AVP documents incidents of anti-LGBTQ violence and uses this information to educate the public about safe dating, safe cruising, recognizing the signs of violence and much more. They work to change public attitudes that encourage and condone hate-motivated violence.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Huckabee: Indoctrinate Americans "At Gunpoint"

Thanks to the people at Right Wing Watch for preserving this video footage before it could be edited out and lost forever.

Mike Huckabee
At a recent "Rediscover God in America" seminar, Mike Huckabee, introduced by David Barton as someone who has "that mentality of take the Bible and apply it to every aspect of the culture," thanked Barton and said,"I almost wish that there would be, like, a simultaneous telecast, and all Americans would be forced–forced at gunpoint no less–to listen to every David Barton message, and I think our country would be better for it. I wish it’d happen." When the sponsors of the event posted videos online, Huckabee's comments had been deleted.

And this is a man who would like to be the President of the United States? What does he have planned for those of us who are not converted by this forced indoctrination? Are we to be rounded up into camps?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Meet Danny Dromm, Out-and-Proud NY City Councilmember from Queens District 25

One of the great things about living where I do is that I am represented by so many politicians I can support. When the call goes out for people to contact one of their elected officials in support of some piece of legislation, I can usually count on my rep having been one of the bill's sponsors. I'd like to introduce my readers to one such representative.

Danny Dromm
Danny Dromm was a teacher at PS199Q in Queens, NY. After eight years on the job, he came out as a gay man in 1992, sparking a controversy that became front page news across the country. He had to fight to keep his job, turning back several attempts to have him removed. He went on to win the "Outstanding Teacher of the Year" award in 2006 and was chosen as the "Educator of the Year" by the Kiwanis Club of Sunnyside, Queens.

He ran for the City Council seat in 2009, defeating his Democratic primary opponent, incumbent Helen Sears, by 10% of the vote. He went on to win the seat in November with over 75% of the votes cast.

Vitally active in Queens' LGBT scene, Danny is the founder and former co-chairperson of the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee, organizing the first Queens LGBT Pride Parade and Festival. He is a co-founder of the Queens Chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (P-FLAG). He helped found Queens Pride House and co-founded the Generation Q Youth Services Program in Astoria. He co-founded the Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens. But don't think the issues that concern him are all LGBT related!

Danny is a strong advocate for seniors, for the youth, for the marginalized members of our society. He serves as the Chair of the Council's Immigration committee and on the Education, Cultural Affairs, Libraries, International Intergroup Relations, Juvenile Justice, Parks and Recreation, and Veterans committees as well. He's been honored by the Sociedad Puertorriquena de Queens for his commitment to the Latino community, is a member of the NAACP - Corona/East Elmhurst branch and has also been honored by the Korean-American Association of Central Queens.

And he's not afraid to fight for the rights of those he serves, up to and including being arrested last June in an act of Civil Disobedience demonstrating for immigration reform.

On March 14, he hosted a dinner with his supporters and constituents, and there he discussed some of his legislative priorities for the coming year:

Please join with me in supporting Danny Dromm's campaign for reelection to NY's City Council.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Peter Murphy, MD Legislator, Officially Comes Out of the Closet

Peter Murphy (Dem. - Charles County)
In an interview published today, Peter Murphy, a member of the Maryland House of Delegates since 2007, told the Washington Blade that he is gay.

With the pending vote on Marriage Equality still in question as legislators waffle on whether or not they will support the bill, having yet another member of the legislature come out to his colleagues (MD now has 8 openly LGBT legislators) could be of inestimable help. It is much harder to vote against the rights of people you know; many of Tom Duane's fellow members of the NY Senate said that it was their personal experience of working with him that influenced them to vote in favor of a similar bill last year.

One of the sponsors of the Marriage Equality bill, Murphy told the Blade, "I think it’s a strong civil rights bill. I think it’s a fair bill because it also addresses the religious issue and doesn’t require any religious organization to practice something that goes against their teachings."

In reference to formally coming out, Murphy says, "I have never denied [being gay... I just presumed people knew." He continued, "I just come here to do my work... I’m not a big social person. I’ve never felt any pressure from anyone to be anything but what I am."

In a statement, VP of Maryland Equality Lisa Polyak said, "We’re so grateful to have Del. Peter Murphy among the LGBT Caucus of Maryland. We’re gratified that he’s a supporter of marriage equality and the gender identity bill. It shows that LGBT people live everywhere in the great state of Maryland, including in the Southern Maryland delegation. We’re always happy to have the support of Del. Murphy and now more so as a member of the LGBT Caucus."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

COMPLETE VIDEO Coverage: Queer Rising Closes Manhattan's Sixth Avenue - 8 Activists Arrested

...and here's the completed video I promised you of yesterday's action in NYC. It includes footage of the planning session for the action, the complete action itself, and interviews with many of the participants, both before and after the arrests.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Shortly after 8 AM today, Queer Rising, an organization dedicated to achieving equal civil rights for LGBTs through nonviolent direct action, engaged in an act of civil disobedience, closing down Manhattan's Sixth Avenue just one block from Times Square in a protest against the failure of the NY State Senate to pass legislation legalizing Marriage Equality for all New York citizens.

As we post this story, the police are in the process of arresting the following protesters:

Kevin Beauchamp, 48 year-old, blind gay activist, partnered for 9 years; Nora Camp, 29 year-old queer activist; Natasha Dillon, 26 year-old lesbian activist and MBA student; Frostie Flakes (aka Adam Siciliano), 24 year-old drag queen activist and nightlife performer; Jake Goodman, 31 year-old queer activist and educator; Honey LaBronx (aka Ben Strothmann), 31 year-old drag queen activist, actor, & photographer; Eugene Lovendusky, 25 year-old gay activist, educator and NYCGMC member; and Kitten Withuwip (aka Caldwell) 24 year-old drag queen activist of color and actor/comedienne

From Queer Rising's statement to the press:
"The federal government has advanced the cause of marriage equality this week, with the decision to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act," said Queer Rising founding member Natasha Dillon. "But New York State shamefully lags behind on the issue. Marriage equality was defeated in December 2009 and the measure was not included in Governor Cuomo's 2011 Executive Budget. LGBTQ New Yorkers refuse to be persecuted, second-class citizens any longer!"
This past January, Queer Rising asked the Cuomo administration to include Marriage Equality in the 2011 Executive Budget. Marriage equality is legal in states like Connecticut, Massachusetts and Washington D.C., and these places enjoy the income from such freedoms. However, New York State is losing valuable commerce and tax revenue from LGBTQ marriages happening in those neighboring states.
A new Quinnipiac University Poll shows New York State's support for same-sex marriage is at an all-time high, with 56 percent supporting and 37 percent opposed. Earlier this week, the Obama administration declared it will no longer defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law banning recognition of same-sex marriage. The time is now for New York to bring equality to its citizens!

Here is the first video protest of the protest:

We will be posting updates with additional video footage as more information becomes available.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Granny Peace Brigade

I wrote about the Granny Peace Brigade in December when several of their members were arrested in Times Square for protesting against the wars in the Middle East. I had the privilege of seeing some of them again on Valentine's Day when they protested the Toy Industry Association's annual Toy Fair at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center here in New York City.

Some of the fine ladies of the Granny Peace Brigade.

I made this brief video of their demonstration against the proliferation of war toys and their call to toy manufacturers to produce more educational, less violent toys:

A little information about the history of the Granny Peace Brigade, an active anti-war group in NYC made up primarily of senior citizens:

In July, 2005, members of the Raging Grannies of Tucson, AZ, tried to enlist in the US military and were arrested for trespassing. Media coverage of that effort inspired New York women to come together to make a similar stand.

This group of women went to the US Armed Forces Recruiting Station in Times Square on Oct. 17, 2005, intent on asking to enlist in the military in place of grandchildren who had been deployed to Iraq. Eighteen were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. They could have accepted an ACD (an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal, effectively allowing them to walk away without any fine or punishment) but, with representation by Norman Siegel, former director of the NY Civil Liberties Union, they decided to go to court to defend their civil right to speak out. They were tried in NY Criminal Court and acquitted.

Today they continue to stand for peace and in opposition to the use of military force to resolve conflicts between nations or hostile forces.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Obituary: Perry Moore

Perry Moore, with
partner Hunter Hill
It is with great sadness that we note the passing this week of Perry Moore, 39, author of the groundbreaking 2007 book Hero, which featured a gay superhero as its lead character.

On Feb. 17, he was discovered unconscious by his partner, Hunter Hill, in the bathroom of their home in New York City. While the official cause of death is yet to be determined by the medical examiner's office, there has been some speculation in the press that it was caused by an overdose of OxyContin which he had been taking for pain resulting from severe problems with his back and knee. Despite this speculation, those who knew him best have denied that Moore was given to the misuse of drugs. 

Moore was also the executive producer of the very successful Chronicles of Narnia series of movies. He was instrumental in obtaining the rights to the novels from the estate of C.S. Lewis (despite Lewis' stated desire that the novels never be filmed) and was in the process of putting together the financing for the fourth film in the series, The Magician's Nephew, at the time of his death. The three movies completed so far, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader have combined combined ticket sales of over $1.5 billion worldwide.

Police are not at this time considering foul play in his death.

The Birth of a Hero

In 1992, Northstar, one of the lead characters in Marvel comics' Alpha Flight came out of the closet, prompting The New York Times to editorialize, "Mainstream culture will one day make its peace with gay Americans. When that time comes, Northstar's revelation will be seen for what it is: a welcome indicator of social change." But in 2005, Marvel killed off Northstar, murdered by the X-Men's Wolverine.

Moore was incensed by the murder of Marvel’s biggest gay hero by one of its most popular characters. "I thought I was going to have to stop buying comics," he said. Instead, inspired by Gail Simone's Web site, Women in Refrigerators, he compiled his own list, detailing more than 60 gay and lesbian comic book characters who have been tortured, raped, disemboweled, decapitated, had their genitalia disfigured or removed, or retroactively "converted" to heterosexuality. "Bad things do happen to all people," he asked. "But are there positive representations of gay characters to counterbalance these negative ones?"

The answer, he felt was no. He set out to create his own positive gay character, Thom Creed, a high school basketball star, whose father is a former masked crimefighter. Thom must keep his powers a secret, for fear of further disgracing his father and risking his community's homophobia.

"I have always been enthralled with comic books and superheroes, and I've always believed there should be a gay superhero. Not as a joke, not as a supporting character, not as a victim, not as a token, but as a real front-and-center hero," Moore wrote. "Like most young people, I grew up feeling alienated and different--for very specific reasons in my case--in a place that didn't value differences. I also have this borderline-crazy belief in the power of literature to change the universe. So I'd always wanted to tell this story."

Critical reception to Hero was mixed. Publishers Weekly wrote, "The novel misses its mark, with an abundance of two-dimensional characters and contrived situations... While some may be glad to see a gay hero come out of the closet just in time to save the world, others may wish the situations felt less clich├ęd." The Advocate wrote, "Hero is a quick, at times shallow, but satisfying novel, the kind we all wanted while growing up and hopefully   the first in a new genre of young adult literature." Hero went on to win the Lambda Literary Award as as the best LGBT Children's/Young Adult novel of 2007.

At the time of the Lambda Award, Moore announced, "It looks like we’re going to do a TV series. There were two networks that we pitched, and we got two offers." Late in 2008, Variety confirmed that Moore was developing Hero as a television production for the Showtime cable network in partnership with Marvel legend Stan Lee, creator of Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man and the Fantastic Four. As Lee said, "This is gonna be a winner. I want in!"

Showtime later pulled out of the project. Lee wrote to his fans, "Showtime finally didn’t commit and we’re now exploring our options... Stayed turned for further developments. Excelsior!"

Moore wrote, "Hero will see its day onscreen... I’m not sure how or where or who will make it possible, but like all the best heroes, you have to have faith. And when it does, it will be another step forward. And some folks will think, 'Damn, it’s about time someone thought of doing that.'"

Moore's family has said that he was in discussions with the Starz network for a TV film adaptation of Hero. Moore had also told The New York Times that he planned on writing a series of book sequels featuring Thom Creed. "There’s a lot left to tell in the future books." Sadly, while we may still see an adaptation of Hero at some point in the future, there will be no more new installments coming from this gifted young man.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Guest Blog: What a Horrific Conference with a Horrific Message

Welcome Guest Blogger Christopher Jay Hall, who documents his experience at an anti-LGBT conference led by Exodus International called Love Won Out. Christopher is the Executive Director/Founder of the Central AZ Rainbow Education (CARE) and a member of the Steering Committee for the Human and Equal Rights Organizers (HERO).

Meg Sneed, Jason Hoppe, and Christopher Jay Hall
As many of you already know, I attended an anti-homosexual conference yesterday! Many of you may ask why, but the answer is quite simple. I truly believe the best way to have an intellectual conversation with those who have different views than us, is to try and understand where it is they are coming from. Unfortunately, their message made this impossible as they closed the conference stating that they were only here to serve the homosexuals and that compromise was out of the question. (Their words not mine)

The conference was well over nine hours long and nearly 90% of the messages delivered were filled with hate and untruthful “statistics” about the LGBTQ community. We must have compassion for their ignorance as we should never hate. I must admit it was very difficult to sit and listen without saying a word, but I remained true to my intentions in trying to truly understand their logic.

In my opinion, some of the most disturbing messages of the day included the following:

- It was hard for some of the speakers to grasp the concept of respect when it came to transgender issues. They said they were going to call a person by the way god intended them to be, not by what they wish. This really irked me especially the way it was presented and the audience laughed and agreed with every hateful word.

- Heterosexual couples have a life-long interest in their relationships which apparently homosexuals lack.

- 91% of women who identify as lesbian are apparently the way they are because of trauma from their childhood (67% sexual abuse). What is abuse? Are we considering verbal abuse, a small punch in the arm when we yell slug bug no slug backs, or simple birthday spankings? I mean… women all over the world are abused both homosexual and heterosexual. They also believe women are gay because of their relationships with men went sour. If this is the case, so many heterosexuals today would be gay as I don’t know any relationship that has not had its moments.

- In a healthy mother-daughter relationship, the child should want to be like her mother otherwise there may be worry for lesbianism. I know many heterosexual women who do not want to be like their mother and I know many lesbians who would like to be like their mother so the “facts” are a bit odd to me. I would think the best way to understand the LGBTQ community is to ask us of our cause and listen to the medical professionals who are telling them otherwise. The church states, even if we are proven to be born gay, they will keep their stance saying that we are not born perfect so the battle almost seems never-ending. Why don’t we focus on what makes individuals heterosexual? There is a thought!

-The gay gene is like any other gene that cause alcoholism, violent behavior, depression, etc. They are all unwanted genes that have a negative impact on our lives. Well, let me tell you, I am a happy homosexual who wants to be the way I am.                                                                                                                      

Although there were several other messages that ruffled my feathers, those were among the most absurd.

Fortunately, I fell within the age bracket for the youth portion of this conference so I got to listen in on what they are telling our youth. Apparently, there is no such thing as homosexuals as we are all broken heterosexuals. They told the youth that homosexual behavior is always a sin. People who believe they are homosexual are not the sin itself. The person is not an abomination rather their behavior is the abomination they must seek help in overcoming. They end by saying all sin is an abomination to god, but the youth were very intelligent and to some degree liberal. They were curious as to why our “sin” of homosexuality was a focus of the church when there are so many other sins within the church itself that are being ignored. The best question that left the presenters baffled was, “If it is bad to change one’s sex because it was god’s original intention to have us born the way we are, than why do we dye our hair, wear braces to “fix” our teeth, receive plastic surgery, etc. I was happy to see the amount of liberal individuals who attended, I am just saddened to see so many hurt souls who are forced to attend and the church feels they have no role in the high rates of suicide amongst our LGBTQ youth. What ignorance!

I can now say I have tried to understand the opposition and I can now speak against what I have always been against!

When I left the conference with the anti-homosexual philosophy behind me and our supporting LGBTQ community in front of us peacefully gathering to let these individuals know they are loved regardless of what they may have been forced to listen to, I felt as though I was going home. It was a feeling unlike any other. Thanks to all those who came out to show their disapproval in what these individuals were teaching.

While in attendance, I did gather some of the youth’s information so that I can later provide resources to them in the hopes of helping! This was truly an experience I will never forget. I was happy to have shared this expereince with some individuals that I admire within the community such as Meg Sneed and Jason Hoppe! What great individuals they are and you know what..... they too are gay! Hmm... who would have imagined such great people who identified as homosexuals too bad they are broken (ha).

Friday, February 18, 2011

Guest Blog: An Open Letter to President Obama

Jose Manuel Reyes, Christin Meador, Rev. Pat Baumgardner, Mark Pabon and Rob Lassegue
Welcome Raging Pride's first Guest Blogger, Christin Meador, founder of Proud Ally and GetEQUAL NY State Organizer. I wanted to share with you this beautiful letter she has written to our President.

Dear President Obama,

My name is Christin Meador. I am an American citizen, and today is my 27th birthday. When my parents were in labor back in 1984, they had no idea what kind of child I would be. They didn't know whether I would be a boy or a girl. They didn't know whether I would have brown, green or blue eyes, whether I would have red or brown hair. They didn't know whether I would have the fair complexion of my Anglo-American father or the darker complexion of my Puerto Rican mother. Would I be right or left-handed? Tall or short? Would I be gay, straight, bisexual, transgender? These are among the many questions that run through parents' minds as they anticipate the arrival of their child. One thing was for certain with my parents. They would love me no matter what. And so here I am, a redheaded, green eyed, left-handed, fair skinned, bicultural, straight woman.

My parents and my nation taught me one important thing - we are all created equal.

I love the date of my birthday because it falls between two holidays that represent values very close to my heart - Valentine's Day for its message of love and President's Day for its focus on leadership. Today, in our America, we need leadership to ensure the right to love freely. This Valentine's Day my boyfriend and I were at the Marriage Bureau of Lower Manhattan advocating for marriage equality for the LGBT community. As President's Day approaches, my birthday wish is for you, the leader of our great country, to take true leadership in ensuring the equality of all Americans. The current state of affairs is unjust and un-American.

I grew up in the south, where my grandparents and parents fought for the full equality of black Americans. Without the support of allies, we may have never seen the signing of the civil rights bill. We as Americans may never have experienced the historic moment of your inauguration. It is the history of the civil rights movement, the women's rights movement and my fundamental belief in equality that inspire me to fight every day for the rights of my LGBT brothers and sisters.

I don't know if you have ever attended a LGBT rally or protest. I can tell you from experience that it is devastating to witness people having to fight so tirelessly to defend the person that they love and the rights they are allegedly guaranteed in our democracy. I take action because I'm not willing to live in a country where my brothers and sisters are treated as second class citizens. Today I write to you to ask, will you do the same? Will you take action? Will you deliver a speech about the equal rights of LGBT Americans? Will you be more transparent in your plan for LGBT equality? Will you stand beside the people who campaigned for you? Will you be on the right side of history?

This is not a hard battle to win when we are arguing on Constitutional grounds. Our opponent's opposition to equality is largely if not entirely rooted in religion and the flimsy notion of "traditional marriage". I ask you to stand up and make the argument that we've yet to hear from our politicians. We live in a secular nation, with separation between church and state, and religious beliefs should have no bearing on policy and law. Do you have a Constitutional reason why these rights are denied? If not, can you stand up and say so?

While I understand the political position you are in, I can't help but wonder: Wouldn't you rather serve one term as President and go down in history as the one who delivered full equality to our nation? I know I would. This is your opportunity to make America the leader in human rights that she claims to be.

I am not someone in the inside circle of Washington, and I have nothing to lose when speaking my mind. This kind of engagement is something you advocated for in your campaign, and so I hope you will hear my words. I have nothing to lose, no direct ties to Washington, no insider information. I am simply an active citizen making a plea to you to fight for full equality.

There is a quote from a gospel tune that goes like this - "Lord don't move my mountain, just give me the strength to climb". The community of LGBT activists is a strong, loving and fearless bunch. And we will continue to hold you accountable. We will reach the top of that mountain because it is not in the spirit of the American people to be bystanders. We are upstanders. And we are here to say - love is not a special privilege. Will you join us?

Christin Meador

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Transgender Woman Accuses Jobcenter of Discriminatory "Advice"

In England, Jobcentre Plus is a government agency which assists the unemployed in their search for jobs.  It also administers claims for benefits.

Apparently, some of Jobcenter's employees believe that a part of their job is also to pass judgement on transgendered individuals. 

Tina Cook has lodged a formal complaint with the Department of Work and Pensions, alleging that she was told she should dress as a man in order to find a job. 

Tina Cook
Tina lost her job in the construction industry one year ago. Until then, she had lived a dual life, as Andrew during the day at work and as Tina during her off hours at home. She decided to begin the transition process when she became unemployed and entered a program which requires her to live full-time as a woman or lose her benefits. If she were to take the Jobcenter's advice, she would have to withdraw from the program. 

"I’ve only recently summoned the courage to be the way I want. I have given up so much. My family don’t really talk to me and I have no friends. How can they expect me to give it up to get a job. It’s really insensitive." 

She reports that the employees at her local Jobcenter call her "Darling," and adds, "They wink at me and say it. I know they are making fun. I don’t go to the Jobcentre for disrespect and abuse. All I need to do for that is walk down the street or go into any pub. Someone will always say something, but I don’t expect it when I am trying to get off benefits and get back into work." 

Since becoming unemployed a year ago, Tina has been interviewed for various jobs about thirty times, mostly for cleaning or kitchen work. "I get the feeling when I go to the Jobcentre sometimes that they don’t want me there. When they see me, they try to make me go to interviews for waitressing jobs at posh restaurants, but my forearms are covered in tattoos. There is no chance I’d get those jobs." 

The Department for Work and Pensions has responded to the allegations, saying, "Jobcentre Plus is committed to treating all individuals fairly and equally. We will not tolerate discrimination and will take any allegations seriously. We are aware of this complaint and are investigating."