Hate 2000 Newsletter
Will’s father commented about how difficult school is for queer students. “Most parents worry about if they make a grade, make a team, or do things like that. When we sent Willi to school, we worried that it would be the last time we would see him.” Stated in interview in the documentary movie Anti-Gay Hate Crime: A & E Investigative Reports. Available from Amazon.Com and Amazon.Ca.
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The Safe Schools Coalition provides us with some rather disturbing facts regarding gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-identified youth. Their web site gives the homeless figures for queer youth in studies conducted starting about 1986. The percent of homeless youth who are GLBT vary from study to study, ranging from a low of about 20% to a high of about 42%. The rate of homelessness among queer is so high that some concerned people are saying they believe we are losing a generation of queer youth.
For many queer and questioning youth, hate is something they experience at home. They are not safe from the homophobia present in society or in school when they get home. They are bombarded with hatred and intolerance in their own homes.
One could conclude from these facts that parenting gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-identified children is a very important issue. At Stop Hate 2000, we recognized the issue was very important, so we took the step of providing a thematic review of the television series Queer as Folk. We discussed different themes in Queer as Folk, including information from the show about parenting queer children.
How to parent gay, lesbian, and bisexual children is an important issue. For many parents who were raised in a deeply homophobic society and spiritual environment, learning they have a queer son or daughter is traumatic. When parents do not handle the trauma well, they can leave their children deeply scarred.
Will, a popular gay You Tuber, gives parents some valuable advice in his video “To the Parents of Homosexual Children.” In his video, Will encourages parents to accept and love their queer children. His video is worth watching.
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The last several American Presidential elections were divisive. Unfortunately, the last American election was also divisive. Sexual minority groups in the United States were not uniformly committed to supporting either the same political party or the same Presidential candidate. Some Americans who support gay rights did not support Barack Obama, while other queer Americans strongly supported Obama’s candidacy. The positions McCain and Obama took during the election did not leave this contributor feeling comfortable with either man’s support for basic human rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-identified citizens. While appreciating Obama’s passionate speeches, this writer was deeply concerned that Obama would not turn out to be a friend of the queer community. This short reflection on a speech Barack Obama recently gave is not coming from a person who could be considered to be part of an Obama glee club.
Recently, President Barack Obama spoke at the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner. An American President speaking at dinner is not newsworthy and historic. There are, however, several things that are newsworthy and historic about Obama’s speech. The first thing is that he spoke at a function of one of the largest gay rights groups in the United States. Probably no other American President felt it was politically expedient to speak to a large group of openly queer people and their straight allies. The topic of gay human rights was either not on the radar screen for other Presidents, or they were philosophically opposed to equal rights being granted to sexual minority groups. Barack Obama’s presence at the Human Rights Campaign in itself said volumes. The fact that he spoke to the group said larger volumes. And the fact that an American President came out in favor of human rights for sexual minorities is big news.
Words matter, because they represent the hearts of those speaking. There is real power in words. The words of world leaders matter a lot, because of the power and influence of their words. The specific content of Barack Obama’s speech deserves review.
Obama described the opposition to queer rights as “painful” and “heartbreaking.” He complimented the Human Rights Campaign for advocating for GLBT rights, in in the face of opposition, for almost 30 years.
While Obama supports queer rights, his speech showed respect toward those who oppose gay rights. He described those opposed to gay rights as “good and decent people.” He commented on the views opposing gay rights as “outworn arguments” and “old attitudes.”
Possibly because Obama is a visible minority, he demonstrated that he understood the desire of sexual minority groups to see changes, big changes, and to see those changes take place very soon. He did not ask for either patience or that changes take place at a slower rate of pace.
Into the speech, Obama wove in important parts of the history of the queer community. He mentioned Stonewall, the AIDS epidemic, Matthew Shepard’s murder, and acts of violence and murder against other members of the queer community. His speech showed that time was taken to learn the history of American sexual minority groups, as a way of understanding the needs and desires of queer Americans and their straight allies. He complimented sexual minorities on their resolve and commitment to human rights. He identified himself with the gay rights movement when he said, “Time and again we faced opposition,” and when, regarding equality for GLBT people, he said, “I’m here with you in that fight.”
• Sign the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act into law
• Support and promote passage of protection for GLBT people in the work place
• Strengthen response to HIV/AIDS nationally and internationally
• Eliminating the ban on people with HIV entering the United States
• Help end the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy
• Asking Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act
• Supporting the extension of couple’s rights to same-sex couples
In Obama’s speech, he came out very clearly against those who have claimed GLBT people, and straight people who advocate for queer rights, are not good Americans. He related a little history about the founding of the organization Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. He finished the PFLAG story by saying, “That’s the story of America . . . ”
Some words are cheap, but Obama’s words were valuable. Words that speak out against prejudice, discrimination, exclusion, and hatred are not cheap. When political leaders speak out for equality, they run the risk of alienating those who do not want to share power and privilege with others. There is a real cost to supporting equality. In the days since the Human Rights Campaign posted a video of the speech on their You Tube channel, this writer watched the video numerous times. Barack Obama’s speech leaves this contributor feeling deeply moved every single time the speech is heard.
Time will tell if there is the political backbone and integrity in the American Congress to do what is right for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-identified citizens, and to help create more legal equality. Knowing the President support moves toward equality means a lot to all GLBT Americans. What will mean even more is when action is taken on the promises made.
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October 10, 11, and 12 were very important days for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-identified Americans. Those days included days that honor gay people, that remember those gay people who have paid the ultimate price for being gay, and a protest for equality. October 10 to 12 marked The National Equality March, National Coming Out Day, and the anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s murder.
According to the Equality Across America web site, October 10 and 11 saw over 200,000 people march on Washington, DC. One can find numerous news articles and You Tube videos of The National March for Equality.
Cleve Jones speech can be watched on the News1News You Tube channel. His speech encourages GLBT people to act like they are equal members in society, and to continue to press for equality. An excellent montage of the speeches can be found on the SeanChaplin1 You Tube channel. The video montage combines short clips from numerous leaders and pioneers in the gay rights movement to form a very powerful video. Three other video and photo montages of the March for Equality can be found on the You Tube channel. Will, a young gay You Tuber and activist posted two videos, March for Equality, and Lady Gaga’s Speech at the March for Equality.
Those who wish to participate in pressuring for equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans people can become involved in the political process. An organizers’ toolkit can be found on the Equality Across America web site. The Stop Hate 2000 web site contains links to the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the White House. People interested in emailing their Representative or Senator may do that by clicking here
, scrolling down to political action, and following the links.
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The Human Rights Campaign web site carries the story of gay New York man who was beaten up. The vicious assault was picked up on security video cameras. According to the article, the police have classified the assault as a hate crime.
An ABC web site states the attackers yelled anti-gay slurs, punched, and kicked Jack Price. The article reports that he received a broken jaw, broken ribs, collapsed lungs, and a lacerated spleen. The ABC site also has a video about the attack. The video contains short footage of the attack on Jack Price.
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Recently, the documentary Outrage came to town. Outrage is about queer American politicians who, while speaking out against human rights for sexual minorities, denying their sexuality.
Pretending to be straight when a person is gay or bisexual is not always easy. A person has to constantly manage both presentation and information. For example, a gay man might have to work hard to ensure he does not cross his legs when sitting. A gay person who has a same-sex partner might refer to the partner using gender neutral pronouns, so nobody will know about the relationship. Getting married to a member of the opposite sex makes it easier to appear to be straight. Individuals who feel insecure, or who have a lot to lose if people learn they are gay may take their acting to the next level by attacking homosexuals and gay rights. Few people have more to lose than people who have jobs that require popular approval. Closeted gay ministers and elected government officials have a lot to lose if they are thought to be gay. More than one gay or bisexual person has deflected attention from his or her own sexuality, by being very vocal in their opposition to homosexuality. Closeted queer ministers and politicians can become powerful political enemies of the queer community so nobody will think they might be queer themselves. The documentary Outrage looks at this tendency among political leaders in Washington, D.C., and in some American states.
Outrage uses case studies of some American political figures who strongly oppose gay rights, and appear to be gay. In some cases, men have sworn affidavits saying they had sex with some of these very homophobic political leaders. Some of the politicians discussed in the documentary are nationally known figures. In one case, a politician appears to have gotten married to cover his homosexuality.
In the documentary, the practice of outing closeted gay people is discussed. Outing a member of a sexual minority group can devastate personal lives. The question arises if it is ethical to out political figures who have been endorsing policies that harm sexual minorities, and/or have been making very homophobic comments in the press. When a political leader acts in ways that are almost traitorous and treasonous to his or her own people, is outing that leader an appropriate an ethical response?
Outrage is a must watch for gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans-identified, and straight allies to watch. Those opposed to any additional rights for GLBT people should also watch this video. The issue of those who portray themselves as opponents of the gay community, while having same-gender sex is serious.
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