Archive for the ‘LGBT’ Category

A great #gay day. No, really. Take that #DOMA

June 26, 2013

I started today posting on Facebook about my very real fears regarding my rights remaining as the status quo, which would mean that I would not be a full citizen of the country of my birth.  Over the past ten years, I’ve watched this country become more accepting to gay marriage but I feared the decision coming from the Supreme Court.

As I waited for the decisions to be handed down, I felt the acid rising in my stomach.  I sat at work and desperately tried to focus.  I received a text shortly after I knew the decision had been handed down (damn my work place for blocking live stream!).  It simply said “well, shit.”  What? Followed by a virtual text explosion.  Almost every gay person I know started texting each other: stunned euphoria. Yes, we’d have liked for a broader reach, yes there is much work to be done but in a matter of minutes, gay people in 12 states and DC had the same federal rights as everybody else.

Tears started to slide down my face.  It was (almost) everything I asked for.  It didn’t take the sting away of having my civil rights be adjudicated. It doesn’t end homophobia.  It didn’t settle the constant state vs. federal rights battles.  As my co-workers started following the story of some football player being arrested for murder, I wanted to yell at them to shut up, to revel in the moment that for a lot of people today will be one we won’t forget because we were told what we knew: we are equal.

I realized that for them, the SCOTUS decisions weren’t that important.  A few passing comments were made, mostly “I thought we got rid of that a few years  ago”, but for the rest of the day, I kept checking my twitter feed to make sure, yes, that really did happen.

Tomorrow, we can start working on equality in all states.  But tonight is for celebration.

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#IntlDayAgainstHomophobiaAndTransphobia? Support a #ballez

May 17, 2013

Really.  There is a day (ok, several different days) that basically say it’s not ok to hate the non-heterosexual community.  I’m going to spare everybody my rant on that simply because I’m tired of writing it, saying it, and above all thinking about it.  Put it this way, every day, I’m reminded of how I’m “different”.  I’m over this.  Over it.  People blog about the sexualization/objectification of Disney FEMALE characters, has anybody looked at the images they present to boys?

Katy Pyle’s re-interpretation of The Firebird, a Ballez is MORE than just a queer ballet.  It is so much more than that.  This show re-examines how we present people.  Take a look at the picture below taken by Chrissy Pessango:

Chrissy Pessango Picture

Chrissy Pessango Picture

What do you see? More correctly, what do you see? Look at the different body types, look at the gracefulness each of these dancers holds.  Maybe one, ONE, presents the body type you would expect to see in a ballet.  One.  And here they are a dance corps, musicians who identify as non-heterosexual but teaching a much broader lesson: the presentation of the craft is the important part.  Shaking up gender expectations is huge: doing so with health body images? Well that’s nothing short of spectacular.

The show opened last night as St. Mark’s church (an Episcopal Church in NYC).  Yes, a mainline church supporting queer art.

The $10,000 Pyle is hoping to raise is to provide better pay for those who have contributed so much to this project.  Please help fully fund her.  The show is sold out.  The importance of this re-envisioning is not just important for the queer community but for every person.  None of us are that “perfect” image.  Pyle’s work is groundbreaking.  Pyle’s dancers are taking very real risks in their professional lives.  The church that is supporting them will undoubtedly draw (more) criticism.  That is the risk of being a ground breaker.

This is the link to the KickStarter campaign.  Please give what you can.  The project is so close to being fully funded.

And no, I was not paid to write this review (and I wish is I was in NY so I could go see the show!!!)

The Firebird, a Ballez #queer #dance #kickstarter #feminism

May 16, 2013

“This ballet is the one I wish I had seen” . . .words, of course, you would expect to hear from the artistic director. The reality is that in the context of  The Firebird, a Ballez this is much more than a true statement.  Katy Pyle has re-envisioned Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird in a new image.  A queer image.  The clip from Kickstarter IS the ballet I wish I could see if I was in NYC this weekend.

I am far from a lover of ballet, I am impressed with the skill it takes to dance on ones toes (I’m thrilled to get through one day with stubbing a toe) but I’ve never felt a connection (I vaguely remember The Nutcracker and by vague, I remember this idea of child running around and the prince/princess and always been freezing cold in the theater) to ballet.

I clicked on the Kickstarter campaign because the artistic director is the sister of a college classmates.  I believe in projects in Kickstarter: we are all on this planet together and well, in this country we really don’t grasp “the arts” or funding for the arts.  As I watched the clip and listened to Katy’s reasoning for funding the project, I went back and watched the clip again. Without sound.

I saw me: not just the gay me.  But me.  The person who doesn’t look like a dancer. I saw people of different ethnic origins.  I saw not male/female roles but artists expressing their craft in a very gender scripted medium.  Yes, there were dancers who looked like dancers but compare the clip above to this one I grabbed from you tube.

Pyle’s project is more than just a “queer ballet and orchestra”.  The dancers look like everybody.  They present healthy body images with varying frames.  As I’ve replayed the clip in my head all day and thought about what I wanted to write about this amazing project.  I realized that Pyle is correct, this is a ballet I wished I would have seen.  Maybe somewhere in the back of my childhood brain I knew I was gay.  Maybe somewhere in the back of my head I knew I never had the body type to BE a dancer (even if I had the coordination).

The LGBTQ community has spent much of the spring in celebration as states grant the right to marry.  Now it’s time to show how it’s getting better in different areas of life.  The myths and fables of childhood which provide many of the gender norms which continue to be presented as acceptable need to be broken: not just for the LGBTQ community but for everybody. Every time I think of this ballet, I am amazed at the creativity.  I am in awe of the courage and I give thanks.  Maybe there will be a child watching who when s/he grows up s/he will realize s/he is LGBTQ and that the ability to dance doesn’t cross a gender bounds, that the stories presented in the struggles, the fantasy, the mythology of dances can be presented not as straight or queer but as what they are: human struggles.

Angry Lesbian Rant Year After Amendment One #lgbt

May 8, 2013

FB this morning is that it’s been a year since NC declared I’m not an equal person. Most days, I shrug states rights. Ok, no days do I think that. But the year anniversary the day after Delaware made me completely disheartened.

You know, I’m sick of defending the South and Southwest where a chunk of my family and friends live. I pretty much think your states all suck. How you can look me squarely in the eye and say you don’t think I deserve the same rights as every other citizen is beyond me. This isn’t about marriage in the religious sense but about marriage in the legal citizenship sense. Don’t flatter yourself: a gay guy or a lesbian woman isn’t looking at you or your spouse plotting how to break up your marriage so we can ‘convert’ you. Really. And if you are worried about that? Find a therapist. Homophobia is curable.

If you can say you feel my right to marry a woman is “immoral” ok. Chances are you’ve done things in that Bible you want to shove in my face I could probably find a list of ‘immoral acts’ you’ve committed: starting with the shellfish argument, the clothes you wear, the fact you are ‘casting a stone’ created completely in your own mind(s). While I’m at it, while you are shoving your morals on my rights, do you even bother to attend church let alone tithe? Or do you stand on the judgement of others because you think it is your God-given heterosexual right?

Here is the piece which you probably won’t read. Gay people probably aren’t going to run a church that they know is gay unfriendly asking to be married. If you attend church, you probably know that the minister of a church usually retains the right to perform the ceremony. Marriage is both a civil and religious ceremony. I could give a rats ass about your church polity. My church polity allows for marriage, unions, blessings of same-sex couples. My state grants the same rights (it’s the part where the minister says “by the power vested in me from the state of xxxx”). You can keep your interpretation of God. I demand my civil rights: as a tax payer, as a citizen, and as a human. Until then, I think 39 states suck.

The Act Bearing Witness: The Campaign for Southern Equality

January 13, 2013

I’m lucky: I live in a state that grants equal rights to all citizens. You know, that little tiny one that has a host of legal benefits called “marriage”. There is an organization that is working in the south try change the laws so that all citizens have the right to marry the person they love. The Campaign for Southern Equality is working to raise awareness, change the laws and bring equality to citizens in one of the most hostile regions of the country.

I’ve said it a thousand times and I’ll say it a thousand more: I don’t care what your religious doctrine says about gay marriage. I truly don’t. My religion, church and congregation affirm marriage of all couples (and was one of the first in the nation to do so). It’s welcoming in the definition of the world welcoming: not the hip/trendy we are for gay rights that seems to permeate many congregations. I really, really, really don’t care what your interpretation of God is when it comes to my rights (but, unless you are willing to live by the entire literal teaching of The Bible, I’m also not interested in a discussion with you on the subject.

About this time every year, I become angry as I’m reminded I’m not a full citizen in the eyes of my government. I find it odd since apparently I qualify as a “Daughter of the American Revolution” (yeah, something about leaving Massachusetts for Ohio in the 18th century) and have some indigenous heritage as well (talk about not having the energy for apologist history). Every year when I complete my Massachusetts return, I’m reminded how in the eyes of the federal government, I don’t have the same rights. I don’t have the right to survivor benefits (Sally Ride’s wife doesn’t; Neil Armstrong’s wife does), I am not automatically given the right to make medical decisions for my spouse, don’t even go there with what can happen to inheritance issues in states that don’t recognize marital equality.

I’ll never understand how anybody can think my (non-existent) marriage can be a detriment to their marriages. This is civil rights: this is the equality of all citizens.

Tomorrow, two friends of mine will apply to have their legally obtained marriage license registered in the state of their current residence. It will be denied. They know it will. It won’t make it hurt less. It doesn’t make it less wrong. All it means is that in the 21st century, two people who I’m honored to call friends will be denied the rights that straight people take for granted. They both hold advanced degrees; they both work for justice. One likes basketball, one likes the Oscar Ceremonies the point of obsession. They are both normal women who love each other. And tomorrow, in the land of the ‘free’, they will be told and all of us who love them will be reminded of how they are oppressed by the state they live in and by the federal government. Yes, we’ve come a long way in under a decade, but we have so further to go. And until then, people like my friends will be told to their faces “their kind” (my kind) isn’t welcome in our country. And that is nothing short of shameful.

Longest Gay Week

May 13, 2012

Long week. Long, long, long week. A week ago, Joe Biden makes a statement being for marriage equality on Meet the Press. Monday, North Carolina voters re-affirm homophobia and stereotypes. The next day, Mitt Romney is outed as a boarding school bully and Obama announces he supports same sex marriage.

Let the debates begin.

One of my friends wrote a lovely note about why LBGT people couldn’t expect Obama to come out for gay marriage due to the risk of loosing an election. Ok, that became a bit moot later in the day but I wonder? Will this cost Obama the election? I hope not.

I’m tired of being politicized. I’m tired of who I love being news. I’m tired of people who probably eat pork, shellfish, wear mixed fabrics and have probably never studied any religion outside of the four walls of their chosen faith have decided I’m an abomination. I’ve said it over and over, until somebody can explain to me why my marriage, my personal life can explain to me why/how it is a threat to their marriage, personal life without using religious language, I’m not interested in listening. It’s fear. Of course, if I had a marriage, it might be a bit more personal – right now, it’s a construct argument.

I wanted to feel elation when the president said he was for gay marriage. Instead, it immediately became a political debate. Did he do this for the ‘gay vote’? What votes will it cost him? I’m not stupid, it’s an election year. And in Washington, everything is about the next election. I had to explain to somebody all of the federal benefits of marriage: not just the obvious IRS tax code ones. The marrying a foreign national, the Social Security death benefits and on and on. I wanted somebody in the GOP to finally stand up and say, you know what? It doesn’t matter what happens between two consenting adults. I didn’t want to hear pundits bash gay conservatives. Sexual orientation and religion don’t belong in politics. I don’t feel threatened by my straight conservative friends heterosexual marriages and I’m going to guess they don’t feel threatened by my personal life.

Then we hear about Romney the boarding school bully. Just what we need. How can you forget if you cut off a classmates hair? Having been subject to some lovely junior high/high school bullying, I remember who spit on my face. I don’t know if they remember: I’d like to think they do. Of course the student involved was closeted. Of course.

Last Sunday, I thought maybe we can have a civil discussion about what it is like to be gay in this country, and how much it hurts. By the end of the week, I wanted to curl up in my bed and sleep. It’s been an exhausting week. It always is when people get to vote on your rights: and even when the president offers you an olive branch, it still hurts.

The road to equality is long and painful. I prefer knowing my enemies. I applaud Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden for their public change in position. In a few years, hopefully this will be viewed as a moment like President Johnson’s introduction of the Civil Rights Act. Courage isn’t often loud: courage is standing up for your beliefs when you have something to lose. Maybe that is what I needed to hear all week: not Romney the bully, the political gains/losses or did Biden force Obama’s hand. What I needed to hear was that when all is said and done, hopefully Obama and Biden will be remembered for standing up for what is right when it could cost them their jobs. And that type of courage should always be celebrated.

North Carolina and Amendment One: A Chance to Say No to Bigotry

May 4, 2012

Most of the time, state ballot intaitives amuse me: should we repeal a liquor tax? What about letting people smoke pot in public? I tend to think of it is the great political revenge of letting voices be heard on some entertaining issues.

Not so next week in North Carolina.  Next week voters in North Carolina are seeking to define relationships.  Currently, the Tar Heel State is does not recognize gay marriage. Now, they are seeking to ban it.  The legislature this year managed to place on the ballot the following:

Constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.

If this amendment passes, North Carolina’s Constitution would read as follows:

“Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”

Marriage, not civil unions, not domestic partnerships, is the only legal union.  To some people, there might not be a distinction between only allowing heterosexually married couples to receive the government benefits of marriage.  There is: this proposed amendment has the potential to impact domestic abuse charges, custody and support rights in non-married heterosexual couples.

There has long been the stereotype of the ‘narrow minded Southerner’.  This amendment promotes that stereotype.  In a telling quote, Majority Leader Rep. Paul Stam (R-NC 37) stated “They’re going to bring with them their same-sex marriages. They’re going to want to get divorced and have custody issues decided”, he said. “We’re not equipped to handle that.”  Rep. Stam, let me personally assure you, the gay community is not interested in rushing to North Carolina to get divorced.

Maybe one day I’ll understand how individuals can think my decision on who to marry has any impact on his/her relationships (aside from the obvious affair).  Passage of this amendment would be a giant step backwards.  Not just for the LGBT community but for every citizen of North Carolina, and by extension everybody who knows and loves somebody in the Tar Heel State.

I find it bemusing that the political party which staunchly opposes perceived intrusions into our personal lives supports such a reaching decision.  This is bigotry.  This is fear mongering.  This is hatred of the other.

My only hope and prayer is that the people of North Carolina see this for what it is worth and refute the amendment.  We all deserve better.

March Insanity

March 20, 2012

I usually enjoy March: the days getting longer, the fun of the basketball games and the general awakening after a usually long winter.

This year? I think I might start by pulling my hair out. I’m over the war on the non-white heterosexual male. Over it. The latest shot? The a legislature in Idaho asking if a woman really would know if it’s rape or not.

Really? Between Susan G. Komen and Planned Parenthood, this simply has to end. Where are the men speaking up in defense of the reproductive choices for the women in their lives? Where are the brothers, sons, fathers, husbands saying my spouse is my partner: she is as strong as I am, she is worth as much as I am, she has the right to make her own choices regarding her health. And yes, stupid representative from Idaho, somebody knows when she or he has been raped.

Where are the men? The silence of the so called liberal men disgusts me almost as much as the conservative war on women by the right. Men, by sheer luck of being an XY instead of an XX, are part of the ruling elite: even if they are not part of the 1-15%. Conservative dialog is part of the process: hatred is not.

Equality is intimidating. It’s time for the men who say they are liberal, who say they are for women’s rights to stand up and shout back to those who seek to oppress the rights of others “this is unacceptable.” The era of Nixon’s Silent Majority is long gone. The stakes are much too high.

Lenten Ramblings

February 26, 2012

People who know me … and have known me for more than 4 years, probably know the issues I’ve had around going to church. There is enough fodder there for a good-bad reality television show. Seminary, for many reasons, lead me away from the church. And by away, I mean only-when-visiting-my-sister-and-can’t-fake-food-posioning-again away. There are many complex layers that really are not fit for a public discussion (read, I’m not the only one involved and part of it, I flat out don’t want flying about the interwebs). There has always been a sense of missing the collective gathering (probably more of a Jungian archetype than I’d care to admit) for ritual.

I am sure that part of the need for ritual for me has been how ingrained church has been in my life for many years. My grandmother’s memorial service was held at the church my parents were married in. People at my sister’s church still tell the story of when my sister conned me into dressing up as an angel to hold the baby Jesus (that would have been a now 13 year old niece) while trying to keep a 2 year old from removing all the ornaments off the tree. Her wise words to a friend “my sister is going to kill me.”

Somewhere, I think, in this blog is about how most of that was taken away: not the memories. But the sense of belonging. The sense of being able to sit in community. Part of the training in seminary is a collection of mostly unpaid internships. One place noted that they would have not offered me the position had they known I was gay. Because the church is exempt from most hiring practices, this is not an uncommon stance. Hearing that comment, as part of a performance review, in an exceptionally liberal Christian denomination to this day remains one of the more painful aspects of my journey. In the span of 2 weeks, I went from a contract renewal to a concern of “deceptive” behavior because I did not tell somebody I was gay. During my CPE (Clinical Pastoral Experience) (read, unsupervised chaplain), during the discussion on human sexuality, I wound up being prayed over by 4 very conservative students from a different seminary that I might find “God’s grace and forgiveness”. When I tried to discuss this during supervision (the time when you met with the people who “supervise” (word used very casually) you), I was told I needed to bring it up with the entire group: that it was my job to educate them on equality. Huh?

After I graduated, the last place I wanted to see, be seen, hear, think, ever go to again was a church. Despite trying to bring attention to what happened to me, I received a clear message from the seminary, the CPE program and others: being gay was an issue.

And yet, the yearning for collective ritual remained. Some times, the pull was stronger than others. The Lenten pool is always the strongest. For me, Lent is a period of reflection: individual, collective over who we are as people. It’s that selfish period for me where I can reflect on where do I need to be. Where I can struggle with the questions of meaning in my life, where I can find a pause to think, reflect and try to find the balance.

I made a promise to somebody that I would attempt to attend church during Lent. I *like* Lent. I went today. A straight male minister criticizing one of the denominations in the federated church for upholding the excommunication of a minister for performing legal same sex unions (tied back to the promise of the rainbow). a congregant voicing concern over the burning of Koran in Afghanistan by members of the US military and stating that all religions have sacred texts and none is more sacred than another (and for the record, no, I was not in a UUA church!) and a singing bowl.

Healing words. It’s ok to be who you are here. We recognize different traditions or no tradition. We stand together in trying to make this crazy backwards world a better place.

The Angry Moderate Rant from Tax Time

February 8, 2012

I’m angry.  And by angry, I mean ready to hop-up-and-down-throw-a-temper-tantrum-mad.  Like this:

Wicked mad.

Wicked mad.

 

I filed my taxes I was smacked again by the inequity of the system.  The NY Times had an article confirming that 47% of American households do not pay Federal income taxes.  Given the fact I’m in the lower 53% for income in tax year 2011, I more than fumed.   I am not going to get into property taxes (paid), gas tax (paid), state income tax (paid, higher rate too).  I’m hoping mad over the federal tax code.  In the past two weeks, I have heard four people state they received more back from the Federal government than they paid into the system.  Say what?  Yup. Paid for not having enough income.  I’m so doing something wrong.

The Federal tax code simply has to be one of the most privileged pieces of stuff created by the Federal government.  Married? Tax break.  Home owner? Tax break (I enjoy this one: however, it is beyond elitist).  Have kids? At least one tax break.  Investment income? Tax break.  And on and on.

I would get over all of this if when I opened my state return and it didn’t say “are you legally considered married by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts but unable to claim so on your Federal return?”.  Flat out: are you gay? Yes.  Why yes, I am.  Thanks for reminding me of all the tax breaks I lose because the Federal government considers me less of a citizen than the person who sits next to me on a subway.  Let me try to figure out with my partner who can claim the kid(s), who can claim the house just so we can bring down our tax burden to that of our heterosexually married peers.  While I’m on this lament also send me such a partner to share these issues.

While those in Washington talk about the small businesses that are the little engine that could of the American economy, where are the tax breaks for small business owners? The real tax breaks that prevent double taxation on the same dollar?  The ones that actually give credit for building a successful business?

Sigh. The tax code drives me nuts.

Can I blame the people who receive more than they pay in back? Meh. It’s the code.  I do believe that everybody should pay Federal income tax.  I also am intrigued by the idea of a flat tax without deductions and single filing only.  I haven’t done enough nerd number crunching to see how it would actually work.

My mood was bad enough and then it was Rick’s night.  Dear Republicans in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and (sadly) Colorado: have you guys lost your collective minds?  Or better yet to any woman who voted for Santorum, have you lost your ever lasting mind? More than Newt, more than Mitt and far and away more than Ron Paul, Rick Santorum has all but declared an open war on women and our rights to make decisions on our own health.  And this man has won more states than anybody else in the GOP primary.  Rick Santorum lost re-election to the US Senate by more than double digits.  Do you know how hard that is? And he is now the person who has the most victories.

I despise the primary system (don’t get me started on how I feel the caucuses are completely slanted against shift workers).  I have an issue with the amount of money wasted, the mindless bickering and the general anger.  For me to vote for the GOP, it takes a lot: like not having sex with an intern. I’ve never voted in a primary.  This year, I will do both.  I will vote in the GOP primary. Why? The simple thought of President Gingrich or President Santorum keeps me up at night.

In most states, you can still switch your party affiliation if you have a closed primary in your state.  I urge you to look at the Republican slate and ask the simple question: if one of them was to become POTUS would you pick.  And vote for that person.  You don’t have to vote for them in the general election: but it’s time the moderates take back control.