Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Mother's Plea: Dealing With Bullies

Last night, I received a tweet from a mother asking what she should do about her gay son being bullied in school. While I did respond to her via Twitter, this is obviously an issue that cannot be adequately addressed 140 characters at a time. Though this is addressed to her specifically, this goes for anyone - parent, family member, friend, whatever - who is, or knows someone who is, in a similar situation.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should probably say that there is only so much that I can say from personal experience. I lucked out. Between not being out in school and (I guess) not being "stereotypical" enough to ping on most people's gaydar, I did not have to deal with anti-gay bullying. That said...

The over-arching theme of how to deal with this is keeping your son from falling into a hopeless despair. He must know that he is loved. He must know that his life has value and is not hopeless. You have to do whatever it takes to keep him from falling into emotional despair. Most, if not all, of the young people who have committed suicide because of anti-gay bullying did so because they thought there was no hope of escape from the abuse. This must be prevented. Surround him with loving family and friends who care about him regardless of his sexual orientation. If therapy or a support group needs to be found, those are other options to be considered.

You have to get the school involved (which has apparently happened). While, unfortunately, schools tend to have a bad track record on this issue, not telling them what is going on won't help. This means talking to ALL of his teachers, the principal and other administrators, even the school district superintendent if you have to. If they don't listen, do NOT hesitate to threaten legal action. Schools are supposed to be safe havens for learning, not gauntlets. There are legal groups who would be willing to help you and your son (some may do it pro bono).

Virginia Tech, my alma mater
Let him know that there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Though there is discrimination everywhere, once he gets out of the bubble that is high school, it's a whole different ball game. Going to college, particularly one that is gay-friendly, will open up a whole new world. University is a great place where he can find open-minded people as well as other LGBT people his age (hopefully a good boyfriend too). They can be part of his support system.

Neil Patrick Harris & husband David Burtka
It is also important for him, and you, to know the mind of a bully. Bullies, generally, are cowards. They find it easier to put other people down to build themselves up. Most of them have their own personal problems. Sometimes, people resort specifically to anti-gay bullying because they are struggling with their own sexuality. It is a story I have heard many times. It even happens in adulthood (look at all of the gay sex scandals that constantly rock anti-gay politicians). Be aware of the pathology of bullies and it will go a long way to dealing with them head-on. Many bullies pick a target they think is weak and won't/can't fight back and they pounce. This is why it is also important that you help your son to be strong enough to stand up for himself.

There is probably a lot that I left out so if anyone reading this has something they want to add, leave a comment. I wish you and your son the best of luck through this ordeal. I pray that he sees it through to the other side because when he does, he will be the stronger for it. Remember, swords are forged in flame.


Marriage in North Carolina: Scrutiny

What we have here is yet another conservative politician who derives facts from opinions instead of getting his opinions from actual facts (instead of conjecture and debunked "studies"). He has no arguments, nothing to back him up, yet he sticks to his Stone Age position. When Signorile holds Forrester’s feet to the fire and puts his statements, “facts,” and beliefs up to scrutiny, Forrester can’t take it and bails. These people are liars and cowards. This is why we, all of us, have to keep pressing them and showing the general public who these people for who they truly are.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

DADT In Retrospect

It has been a week since the official repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell went into effect. Over the last few weeks, this policy has been discussed quite a bit; from the fact that the clock was running out on it while last-ditch efforts were attempted to stall it to the past week’s Republican presidential debate. Here are some thoughts.

It is very obvious that this policy was highly discriminatory. Heterosexual soldiers could talk about their significant others while homosexual soldiers were restricted from doing the same. Double-standard. It is an insult to say to a soldier, “You can die for your country, but you can’t talk about who you’re dating.” That is precisely what DADT did. What a way to show how much you respect American soldiers who risk their lives for your freedom.

This policy is also incredibly insulting to straight soldiers because it assumes that they are all (or mostly) incapable of working and fighting alongside their gay counterparts. We know that, at the time of the repeals legislative victory, this was not the case. I super-majority of soldiers polled (out of several hundred-thousand who were asked) said that they would be able to work with openly gay service members in their units. Even though there was a statistically significant number who said otherwise, I’m sure the same would have been true if such a poll had been performed when the military was racially desegregated. The military got over it and we are still the most powerful military the world has seen.

It’s also a pretty ridiculous notion that when bullets are flying and one may be a second from death that a soldier would be more concerned that the gay guy next to him may be checking him out than, oh, I don’t know, NOT DYING!!! It goes to show where the heads of simple-minded people really are.

We all know that pretty much each of the GOP candidates for that party’s nomination for 2012 want to turn back the clock on DADT and reinstate it. Most notable among these is Rick Santorum (who has little to no real chance of winning the nomination, let alone a general election). Here is what he had to say in the last debate:

Unpatriotic booing aside (that would require a completely separate post), he really shows how he and his fellow candidates are out of touch. Not only was most of the military okay with getting rid of this policy, most Americans, even most rank-and-file Republicans, supported the repeal. They also don’t get that this isn’t about sex, no matter who it may be with. This is about not having to worry about losing your job just because you may mention (in passing) that you are dating someone of the same gender. Sexual orientation has zero impact on one’s ability to be a great soldier, nor should it have an impact on the people around them (if it does, THEY are the ones who have the problem).

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell going into the scrap heap of history (and hopefully staying there) is an obviously good thing for this country and the people, all of them, who defend it. Putting discrimination in the past where it belongs helps us to move forward to a more equal tomorrow. Now to get to work on DoMA…

Tweet of the Day: September 27, 2011

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Middle Class Warrior

Tweet of the Day: September 23, 2011

Apparently, to David Barton the President signing a bill passed by both houses of Congress means he ignored Congress. He isn't very intelligent.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tweet of the Day: September 22, 2011

Another Week, Another GOP Debate

So here are some notes I took as I was watching tonight's debate.

-Gary Johnson must have snuck into this race without me noticing
-Romney again beats Perry with his statement that Social Security is unconstitutional. These two are trading jabs on what they wrote in their books about Social Security and Health Care.
-0:32 I’m surprised it took this long  for the first obligatory Ronald Reagan reference.
-0:36 minutes in and I’m finally aware of Newt Gingrich’s presence, and that’s only because I looked up (it sounded like Ron Paul).
-0:38 minutes in and Gary Johnson wants to get rid of the department of education, when America is falling behind in engineering, math, science, etc. Great idea, great timing. Pretty much everyone agreed.
-0:52: Rick Perry pronounces dissenting “dye-senting.” That was pretty jarring. Why can't Texas politicians speak English?
-0:58: About 40% of people answering a poll said that if a department were to be eliminated, it should be Education. What is it with people on the right and anti-intellectualism?
-1:02 We  get into Israel/Palestine. I’m admittedly out of my depth.
-1:07: Santorum says let’s stay in Iraq
-1:12: Michele Bachmann begs for attention to talk about charter flights to Cuba.
-1:16: A gay soldier gets booed by the people whose rights he risks his life to protect. Stay classy GOP!!!
-1:29: I’m surprised I have only heard “Ronald Reagan” twice. I didn’t even doze off or anything.
-1:32: Seriously, Perry needs to speak a bit faster. He and Romney are back to their books.
-1:36: It looks like Perry is running on fumes. Romney is running the marathon, Perry is sprinting.
-1:42: Oh, HERE are all of the Ronald Reagan references in one huge barrage.

Summation on performance:
Perry faded throughout the debate while Romney held firm and kept punching back. Bachmann is still off her rocker. Paul and Cain brought the funny. Huntsman still seems a little awkward at times. Santorum is still loathsome and out of touch with America on a host of issues. I still don’t know who Johnson is. Gingrich was pretty much a non-entity. I think that covers everyone. If I left anyone out, they don’t matter.

Summation on substance:
Republicans want to scrap the Department of Education altogether (which won’t fair well for them in the general election). Given that this was a GOP debate and it was on Fox, there was surprisingly little on social issues (except Santorum wants DADT back). Cut capital gains tax, end Obama’s health care legislation, we’d all make a better president than Obama, and other predictable statements. The audience showed how unpatriotic they are by booing a soldier.

Winner: Mitt Romney. While I disagree with the guy on a lot of issues, he performed better than anyone else. He stayed on the offensive, especially against Rick Perry. Even in his “awkward” moments, Romney>Perry.

Now if only I had some bourbon to erase the past two hours.

Another Lost Life

I had decided earlier today that I was going to write something about Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14 year-old from Buffalo, New York who took his own life because of anti-LGBT bullying. To be honest however this incident, along with the fact that a year ago yesterday Tyler Clementi also took his life for the same reason, I find it to hard too accurately articulate how incredibly sad this whole thing is. I just find myself wondering how many kids, how many people in general have to die (whether by suicide or murder) before this country wakes up and realizes that all of this homophobia has to stop?

What scares me the most is that for each of these stories that hits the national news circuit, who knows how many fly under the radar. What pisses me off the most is that when these kids are killing themselves and each other because of homophobia, politicians and other public figures are spreading the hate that causes these deaths.

If there is any reason to fight against homophobia transphobia, and any other form of discrimination, this is it : TO SAVE LIVES!!! That is all of the motivation anyone should need.

The Bachmann Saga: Wrong Place, Wrong Time

The fact that she is/was a viable candidate for the Republican nomination for the presidency is a severe indictment on that political party. She is unworthy of being elected dog-catcher.

Elizabeth Warren: Fair Taxation

Everything she said is absolutely right. Has Scott Brown, her opponent, ever said anything of the sort?

I love that she is running for Senate. We need her.

Photo Funnies: I Dare Them

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tweet of the Day: September 21, 2011

Let's not stop with the kids though, some adults could use it too.

The Real Terrorists

Many of you have heard the words of Oklahoma state legislator Sally Kern, where she said that homosexuals are more dangerous to America than terrorists (to be fair, she is not the only person to have said this). There are two important points that I want to make about this statement.

The first is the most obvious one: she is categorically wrong. Terrorists killed 168 people in the Oklahoma City Federal Building. Terrorists are responsible for bringing down a plane over Lockerbie, Scotland. Terrorists are responsible for well over 3,000 deaths in a single day here in the United States. Can anyone honestly say that the LGBT community has perpetrated such grievous wrongs? Of course not.

The second thing I want to point out is the hypocrisy. For years upon years, members of the LGBT community, even/especially young children, have been subjected to countless instances of intimidation, malicious name-calling, threats, acts of violence, bullying, and even murder in cold blood. All of this merely because we are who we are. All of this because ignorant and intolerant people feel it is there place to do these things to a people that they "don't agree" with, many (supposedly) in the name of religion.

So let me ask you this: who are the real terrorists again?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tweet of the Day: September 20, 2011

For those who don't know, Peter LaBarbera is an incredibly homophobic person. His freedom of speech is protected by many of the very people he calls "unrepentant sinners." I guess I'll speak for gay service people and say to him "YOU'RE WELCOME...YOU ASS!!!"

Soldier Comes Out to His Dad

DADT is Officially Dead!!!

Now for me to clear my calender for Fleet Week!!!

Seriously though, a lot of people put in a lot of work on the political side of this (and elsewhere) and it will never be possible to name them all or adequately thank them. I do want to point out that some of the people that we have to thank for this are people who put their careers on the line to tell their side of the story of how DADT has been harmful to individuals and military units. That on top of the fact that they put their lives on the line to serve their country in the first place. That, all of it, took an immense amount of courage.

The end of DADT signals a demonstrable shift in attitudes towards LGBT Americans across the board and is a huge step towards general equality for LGBT people. Many challenges await us in the immediate future, but let us take some time to enjoy this particular victory. The United States is one step closer to living up to truly being "the land of the free."

Keep fighting the good fight.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tweet of the Day: September 18, 2011

This video may end up taken off of YouTube for copyright issues. Hopefully it won't because it was quite a sight.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Surprise From Fox

When one thinks about Fox "News" correspondents, anchors, and other personalities, one doesn't really think about them standing up for anything pro-equality quite the opposite actually. Well, prepare to be surprised by this video which is making the internet rounds.

First, this guy is a quack pure and simple (very simple).

Second, I honestly believe the religious right has taken it upon themselves to blow this way out proportion and make a big deal out of absolutely nothing.

Third, what kids are actually watching this show anyway? Do kids really watch ballroom dancing? I sure as hell didn't, nor did my sister. Kids are more likely watching 90210, sports, cartoons, etc. I guess these "family" groups never really thought about that in their haste to condemn LGBT people once again.

Elizabeth Warren: I'm Gonna Do This

The Bachmann Saga: Problems With the Truth

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Perry & Bachmann Both Get It Wrong

The Good Fight: The North Carolina Front

Since this piece aired earlier today, the North Carolina Senate has also passed this mockery of democracy which will go on to the ballot in May. The timing of this ballot is purely political as it also falls on the state's Republican primary day, so it is assumed that with a largely politically right-wing turnout (plus the fact that this is the South after all), the amendment will pass on a walk. So now the race is on to win the hearts and minds of as many North Carolinians as possible in the next eight months.

Pawlenty Puckers Up

Tim Pawlenty has no shame and has no dignity.

I also find it amusing how Pawlenty tries to make it seem as though him through his massive amount of supporters behind Romney actually means something (P.S. it doesn't).

Highlights from the CNN/Tea Party Debate

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cross Current: Into The Storm

During my first semester of university, there were two days a week where I only had one class which did not start until 2pm. On one of these days, I decided to sleep in a little. When I got up that day, I went down the hall of my dorm to take a shower. As I walked down the hall, I noticed that everyone's doors were open and every television was on. I didn't exactly notice what was on because I tend to walk fast, but I noticed on one of the T.V's rising smoke coming from a building. For whatever reason, I thought it was some channel showing footage of the aftermath of the 1993 bombing in the World Trade Center. I didn't really get why anyone would be showing that, so I didn't think to much of. After the shower, I got back to my room and turned on my television and turned to a news channel. This was nothing special, it was pretty much my morning ritual (and still is). It was not until this point that I actually started to get some grasp of what was going on. Like pretty much everyone in this country and many around the world, I was glued to the television the rest of the day. My roommate was from Maryland and his dad worked in or near Washington D.C. and was frantically trying to get a hold of him.

I know a lot of people remember everything that happened that day; where they went, who they talked to, what they ate, everything. Someone I work with told me he remembered what he was wearing, and that he had not worn it since then. I on the other hand don't remember much. It is an enormous haze. It was too big for me to wrap my mind around until much later.
I believe it was the weekend a few days later that I was with some people and there was a guy there who was of Middle Eastern descent. I remember him saying something to the extent of he and people like him here in the States were in for a rough time. I felt incredibly bad for him knowing, like I had looked into a crystal ball, that he was unfortunately correct. An immense amount of Islamophobia has arisen since that day.

It is strange to think that this is what people went through 60 years before when Pearl Harbor was attacked. Knowing that the world you had known had changed. For better or for worse, it was gone for good. The past ten years in retrospect have seemed very dark. Thousand of lives lost that one day followed by more bloodshed. Fear at the mere mention of unattended luggage or suspicious boxes at an airport. Security measures that border, and sometimes cross into, loss of civil liberties. These things practically never existed in my childhood. Now these things are the new "normal."

That day changed everything, and most of it has not been for the better.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Today in GOP Facism...

There was another incident where a GOP congressman did not allow video cameras into a town hall meeting. My personal fear is that this will become the norm with Republicans: "Agree or get arrested." "Don't put us on record as having wildly unpopular or stupid policy positions." This party needs to remember what democracy is actually about and this video shows how out of control the Republican Party truly is. If Paul Ryan can't take some dissent, then he needs to get out of politics.
And then he had the nerve to crack a joke. How can anyone vote for this guy?

Rick Perry: Facts Don't Matter!!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Rick Perry & Capital Punishment

And this is the man some want to be President of the United States.

A Sign of the Times

For those who are not aware, there was another debate in the race for the Republican nomination for the presidency last night which took place in the Reagan Library (I guess it's their version of the Vatican). This pretty much sums up the debate:

I may have missed the first 30 minutes of the debate, but I think this video sums up the GOP field. They're all for cutting taxes for the rich, they all say they're all better than Obama (that was not a typo), a couple of them are against public education, and Ron Paul thinks the TSA is molesting everyone (which is only partially true).

There was a glaring hole in this Republican debate though: there was not a word mentioned about LGBT equality. Not same-sex marriage, Don't Ask Don't tell, employment non-discrimination (ENDA), or anything else. Not a word on social issues (including abortion if memory serves). Again I missed the first half hour, but from the hour plus that I did see in addition to post-game summations, there was nothing on LGBT issues. It should be noted that the moderators never asked questions about these subjects. Even so, many times when a candidate feels strongly about something, they will bring it up even if that is not what they were asked about. We know from the record that many of these candidates feel strongly about these issues, generally against them.

Granted, LGBT issues are not what most people are focused on in these hard economic times. Most people want to hear about what a candidate will do to improve the jobs climate. However, this has not stopped most of the candidate featured last night from talking about marriage, DADT, and others while going around the early caucus/primary states.

Given all of that, why did these subjects never come up in last night's debate?

There may be many opinions as to why these issues didn't come up. My personal opinion is that perhaps the candidates are finally catching wise to the fact that it is getting increasingly difficult to win on political gay-bashing . With a report out earlier this year saying that a majority of people in America favour at least some form of legal recognition of same-sex couples, this means that it will be harder for Republicans to win a general election while campaigning against gay people. The tide is turning and the political right sees the signs. It's one thing I supposed when you're on the stump surrounded with people you know already agree with you (even if there are cameras there that may get a national audience). I guess it is different when you're on a major network trying to win millions of people over and suddenly, the discriminatory parts of your stump speech may be more of a liability.

While this is definitely a good thing (though we have yet to see in future debates if this holds), it should come with a word of warning. When someone is running for public office, they may not bring up where they stand on issues of equality. This means they have to be asked, perhaps pressed if necessary, on where they stand on these issues. Of course we cannot assume that someone is either for or against gay rights, regardless of what party they are affiliated with. We have to keep questioning these people who seek to lead to make sure that they are not leading us into being a nation that treats people as second-class citizens.

Also, and this is not at all a joke, I completely forgot that Newt Gingrich was still in the race until last night. That is how irrelevant he is.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fischer & Boykin Gut the 1st Amendment

It always boggles my mind. These people say they are against Islam, mosque building, and so on because they say that Muslims (and yes, they mean each and every one) are trying to start Sharia Law (which is Islamic religious law) which we shouldn't have in America vis a vis the First Amendment. They say that in one breath. In the next, they talk about invoking Christian law in America while conveniently forgetting about the First Amendment. Tell me I'm not the only person who sees a basic problem of logic here...

Mitt Romney's Jobs Problem

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pat Robertson on Presidential Qualifications

There are three problems that jump out at me from this video;
1) Pat Robertson is a hypocrite. He had not been a mayor or a governor when he ran for president (as the clip showed at the end).
2) How about we let the people decide who is and is not qualified to be President. That is the purpose of the democratic process.
3) George W. Bush was the governor of a large state. That did not end well for anyone.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Twitter Watch: I Just Lost It

As you may know by now, there was a mistrial in the murder case where "allegedly" Brandon McInerney shot Lawrence King in the back of the head during class because he thought King was gay and King had allegedly made passes at him (in other words, this was in part a gay panic-type situation). Shortly after I heard the news, I saw a tweet by one of the most homophobic people I have come across on Twitter and I just lost it on the guy. It's a little hard to piece together the timeline but I think you'll get it (when you get to the third image, you have to read the posts from the bottom up).

For potentially legal reason I redacted the handle and name of the person involved in this altercation (the only one that appears is, obviously, mine). However, I can't stop you from looking at my Twitter page now can I?

As far as the trial goes, I hope the prosecution learned something that will land the homophobic bastard (McInerney that is) in jail for the rest of his life for first degree murder, which is what justice in this case demands. Anything less is unacceptable.