About We Got Your Back
The We Got Your Back Projects seeks to use social media to support LGBTQIA young people and reduce the rate of LGBTQIA youth suicide by:
- Publishing videos and statements of hope from a diverse group of LGBTQIA community members and allies
- Distributing resources about suicide prevention and bullying
- Starting conversations about the importance of inclusion within our community and standing up against biphobia, transphobia, and racism.
- Mobilizing the LGBTQIA community in support of anti-bullying and anti-violence legislation and efforts to hold schools accountable for maintaining safe learning environments.
WGYBProject on Facebook!
Tales from the fold
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Monthly Archives: October 2010
What we need is to build an issue-focused working-class movement that centers queer analysis. Our demands should cut across sexuality and gender lines, while fore-fronting and popularizing queer needs. We should demand universal health care that includes access to hormones, gender reassignment surgeries, and an anti-heterosexist health system that does not attempt to pathologize our queer bodies and erase the traumas we face in a violent homophobic society. We should demand asylum for all immigrants and not solely rely on the liberal, imperialist reform agenda such as the DREAM Act that attempts to draft the youth from our communities into the oppressive military system. These need to be our demands because we know that our fate as workers are bound up with the exploitation of the undocumented workers and the exploitation of youth of color. Today, anti-queer violence erodes our sense of community and leaves us feeling raw, vulnerable, and fearful for ours and our friends’ safety. This is a crucial time for queers and allies who distrust the state and the police to come together and mobilize from the grassroots to defend ourselves from homophobic violence. We should take the lesson from the initial domestic violence movement which set up grassroots phone trees, patrols, and shelters to challenge patriarchal violence in the households and in the streets. Today, we need to resurrect this sense of grassroots unity that links our struggles together and not to rely on the compromised liberals and non-profits, or the homophobic, racist state institutions that divide and assault our communities.
Perry Moore is a modern-day superhero, though he’ll never admit to it.
In fact, he will try to convince you that he’s only human like the rest of us. But what’s a superhero without a secret identity? To the astute observer, it’s not that much of a stretch. With a square jaw, tousled blond hair, and an athletic build, the handsome Virginian resembles one of the larger-than-life characters right out of the pages of a comic book. It’s no wonder that he was voted People’s Sexiest Man of the Week.
More than that, his career has proven to be an ever-growing vitae of inhuman feats. From interning for President Bill Clinton, to working on the development team for MTV and VH1 and later on the original production team of the Rosie O’Donnell Show, before joining Walden Media where Moore’s been credited as being one of the key forces behind procuring the rights to The Chronicle of Narnia films as an executive producer. Like any hero, Moore volunteers. He regularly teaches other to read at a local community center.
But arguably his greatest accomplishment to date is inspiring a new generation of fans with the critically acclaimed, Lambda award-winning novel, Hero: the coming of age tale about a fledgling teenage superhero who happens to be gay. An important distinction, Moore notes.
“My entire identity isn’t wrapped around being gay. I don’t know anyone’s whose entire identity is based on being gay or straight or black or white.”
Moore’s imaginative, genuine and unapologetically honest style has struck a chord with a wide audience and has garnered praise from literary and celebrity peers Lloyd Alexander, Rachel Ray, James Howe, and Gail Simone.
“In any creative field, nothing worthwhile is created without passion, and Perry Moore has more passion for what he creates and believes in than anyone I know,” Simone says. “Fortunately, he has the talent to back it up.”
It’s Friday afternoon and Moore has just returned from Australia. However he’s been under the weather for the past few days as he’s recovering from a severe case of strep throat. While this would sideline most mortal men, an immensely eager and animated Moore is raring to go.
“I promise I am ready to give the most awesome and best interview ever,” he reassures. “And if you think I’m full of energy now. Imagine what I’m like when I’m completely healthy.”
A big thanks to everyone who came out tonight to our launch event and video shoot extravaganza! Thank you to everyone who’s contributed so far, please read the posts and view the videos contributed so far.
Thank you again to our wonderful host, Fard M. Thank you for your hospitality and for letting us your space to record videos this evening. As a reminder, we can’t do this without YOUR stories folks. We’ve gotten some great stories but we need them to keep coming in.
Please send your posts or video links to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Look for the video recorded tonight to be up on the site soon.
With the recent group of suicides by gay teens, we a take a look at the lives of gay teenagers. NPR’s Robert Siegel talks to Ritch Savin Williams, a professor of developmental psychology at Cornell University. He specializes in gay, lesbian, and bisexual research, and his latest book is The New Gay Teenager.
Listen to the program here. [4min 43sec] Transcript after the cut
Time for a bit of discussion. Fresh from the CNN Belief blog, the question is raised:
Do Churches contribute to Gay Suicide? An overwhelming number of Americans believe that the church does contribute to lgbt suicides.
The article is after the cut for those that would like to read it. Please join us on the facebook page for continued discussion on the topic. Remember to keep it civil folks.
Yes, it was posted to the It Gets Better Project, but hearing a positive message from our POTUS transcends the original intent. Thank you Mr. President for speaking up on this issue.
Mich. Gay College Student Kills Himself
A 19-year-old Oakland University sophomore took his own life Tuesday, a few months after telling his family and friends he was gay.
Family members of Corey Jackson say they believe the Rochester Hills, Mich., college student had been bullied over his sexual orientation, and it ultimately led him to commit suicide.
“I believe [it happened] because he recently realized he was a homosexual and he was getting pressured at school by his peers because he told his family and nothing changed here,” his grandmother Carolyn Evans told Click On Detroit. “Corey was the most loving, giving, funny person. He had the most wonderful personality. He had cousins from ages 14 down to 2 and he never said a bad word about anybody. When he went to school and he realized his sexual preference had changed, he changed completely. He withdrew.”
Oakland University president Gary Russi said in an e-mail to students that Jackson’s death “diminishes us all.”
“In our mourning, I am hopeful that we will not focus on the manner of Corey’s death, but rather celebrate the life he lived and the people he touched,” Russi wrote.
Students organized a candlelight vigil Wednesday night to honor Jackson. The president Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, of which Jackson was a member, wore a purple shirt Wednesday in remembrance of Jackson and in support of ending bullying of LGBT teens.
Police are still investigating Jackson’s death, but the Oakland County medical examiner’s office confirmed that it had been ruled a suicide.
The Oakland University community in southeast Michigan is mourning the loss of one of its own.
Local officials report the body of 19-year-old Corey Jackson was found in a wooded area of the campus. Police and the medical examiner’s office tell the Oakland Press the young gay man hung himself.
The suicide happened Tuesday night, as activists across the nation were preparing for a Facebook driven day of activism to counter a wave of suicides of young gay people across the country that have been tied to bullying. Wednesday was dubbed Spirit Day by the Facebook plans, and was designed to draw attention to the suicides by encouraging people to wear purple.
Police say there is no indication bullying was a factor in Jackson’s suicide.
And while bullying may not be a factor, Melissa Pope, director of the university’s Gender and Sexuality Center said the issue points to larger, hidden epidemic of suicides among LGBT youth.
What White Queers Can Do To Combat Racism In Our Own Community
I wrote this short piece last year. Here in Australia, in my local queer community we can be pretty… backwards… when it comes to issues of race, particularly those intersectional issues impacting on Queers of Colour.
I wrote it because there were a few things happening at the time where there was lots and lots of white fail and I was going a bit buggy and I didn’t feel like there were enough white queers speaking plainly and frankly. I’m sure we’ve all seen it – derailing and denying and over-concern for the feelings of the white peeps being the failiest (in one particularly memorable incident – a blackface show being done and the event organiser saying to me, in the aftermath of the backlash: ‘I really did feel bad for those poor performers you know, they did the wrong thing but they got up with the best of intentions and just didn’t expect that reaction’. TO BLACKFACE! SERIOUSLY! THE FUCK?)
I’m posting it here because I am aware that Geeks of Colour in this community are finding tumblr to be a hostile environment for them. But also because I do feel that the piece below, with only the modifcation of a few words, can apply to many situations involving the privileged and the marginalised. Rather than edit it to be generalised for tumblr, though, I kept it specific to racism because I feel like that’s something that’s being once again minimised as an issue – and as a bit of a tap on the shoulder for me, as well. Lately I feel like I’ve been getting too swept up in the homo-and-whorephobia and need a little privilege check, need a reminder to keep this stuff in mind lest I start inadvertantly showing my ass.
Just another white girl chiming in with her thoughts on this extremely pertinent issue. Speaking out on these things is always difficult for me simply because as a white person I have to seriously consider if it is really my place to do so. I believe my place in the anti-racist movement is to stand in solidarity rather than to have a leading voice.
As such, I have kept the following as brief and to the point as possible.
Shut up and Listen
The most important thing any white person with a genuine interest in anti-racism should do.
Just shut up.
To the People of Colour talking.
They know their issues. They know what’s important to them. It doesn’t matter how much you have read or researched or thought, you will never ever ever know better than they do about their issues.
Too often PoC are actively silenced by white folk wanting to do the talking, so keen are white folk to prove their investment in anti-racism. This is utterly counter-active to the professed objective of any white person wanting to be a part of the anti-racist movement.
So stop it. Sit down, shut the fuck up, LISTEN and accept you are not the expert here.
Stand in Solidarity
It is not the role of white people to set the anti-racist agenda. It is not the role of white people to decide what is the most important issue to tackle. It is not the role of white people to have a principle voice in addressing these issues. It is not the role of white people to lead.
Well-meaning white folk often trample into the anti-racist movement and unwittingly domineer and continue to perpetuate our white privilege by attempting to set the agenda or lead the cause. This is because white people are accustomed to having our voices heard, we are accustomed to leading by default, we are accustomed to having our opinion deferred to, particularly when People of Colour are present.
Be aware of this. And stop doing it. Stand in solidarity as an ally – and understand what that really means. Sometimes it means accepting your voice is not the most important one in the room anymore.
This is a confronting one for white people and one I still very much struggle with. This is about responding to incidences of racism against POC, no matter how slight, subtle or covert and expressing disgust and a lack of tolerance for it.
In a tiny scene like the queer one where we face different types of discrimination ourselves, where a big part of our struggle against that is in our solidarity and unity, it gets even more difficult, especially when it may come to speaking up or acting out to people we respect or are friends with. We fear ostracisation and exile from our own niche community – we fear isolation. So we stay silent and, through our inaction, perpetuate racism in our community.
Furthermore, as white people, there’s nothing at stake for us if we remain silent. Our lives are not adversely affected by our silence. Indeed, if anything, we avoid discomfort and confrontation.
I freely admit, I fail at this one. I will try to fail better going forward.
It’s always easier to take action like this as a collective than as individuals. If we communicate, open up this dialogue amongst ourselves, we can find allies in our politics and stand together.
Don’t Get Complacent
We must understand as white people living in a racist society, our education will never, ever stop. It doesn’t matter how educated we think we are, how long a history we have in the anti-racist movement, how many POC friends we have, how many books we’ve read or protests we’ve attended or theory we’ve dissected or sociology we’ve deconstructed, white privilege will always be cushioning our lives. White privilege means we are very much used to be applauded and celebrated for the teeny-tiniest of achivements and progressions and expect this treatment all the time. It is far too easy to allow ourselves to be bolstered by this into believing we’ve done all the work we can and are now the perfect white anti-racist ally.
Racism permeates our culture to such a degree that dismantling our deeply ingrained preconceptions and notions is a lifelong task because these beliefs are constantly being reinforced in every facet of society. The work never ends.
Part of accepting that anti-racist education is a lifelong pursuit is accepting that sometimes, YOU ARE GOING TO FUCK UP.
Somehow, somewhere along the way, you will say or do something with racist connotations. As noted, racism permeates our culture to far too thorough a degree for it to be avoided.
When this happens, and you are called on it, rather than becoming hyper-defensive in your rush to deny your racism, STOP. Take a deep breath. THINK.
Deconstruct. Accept you fucked up, apologise (and actually apologise, don’t make a fauxpology:http://idealisticpragmatist.blogspot.com/2005/06/when-apology-is-not-apology.html ) and don’t do it again.
Also remember, the person calling you out is not saying YOU are racist. They are pointing out that you SAID or DID something that was racist. They are probably very aware that this is a symptom of your having been ingrained into racist ideology from birth and are pointing it out to you so that you can become aware of it because you have made it known you desire to be an ally. If you are serious about being an anti-racist ally, you MUST be willing to hear this criticism and take it onboard, or it is all just meaningless lip service.
Don’t Expect Cookies
So, you’ve acknowledged the existence of white privilege and that racism is a pretty big fucking issue. Well, whoop-de-doo, bully for you. You’ve become aware of something any Person of Colour could’ve told you at any point of their lives.
Speaking out against white privilege and racism, owning your white privilege, becoming part of the anti-racist movement, listening to POC – none of these things are magical powers.
The capacity to empathise with others makes you a decent human being, not a goddamn superhero.
POC fight a daily struggle against racism. You acknowledging it exists is not an earth-shattering cause of celebration. You are not doing anything remarkable or wondrous or noteworthy by owning your white privilege and expecting that you be congratulated on your amazing politics by every POC you encounter is really pathetic – and is once again pulling white privilege by expecting that the anti-racism movement be made about you and how awesome you are for taking part. Do it because you fucking care, not because you want pats on the back.
I present a couple pieces for your consideration for ally week. First up is a great piece by Bridget Adams, which asks “What are you doing to be a better ally?”
Can you handle one more month of political stuff, Poppets? I knew you could. Recently, a friend of mine had to call out a woman who claimed to be an ally of the LGBT community. It didn’t go well. The ally got defensive, started deflecting, and ended up losing all credibility as supporter of the community.
It got me thinking, though – what is the difference between an actual ally and someone who has taken a diversity training or has a lesbian co-worker? Is it that they never screw up? God help us if that’s the case. No, I think it’s more about how a person responds when they do screw up. So, without further ado, I present you Bridget’s Guide to Screwing Up With Style:
This was contributed by Neo Prodigy, originally posted in 2005 in his LiveJournal.
The following is my response to KC’s letter. A significant portion of the information and research I used in my reply is courtesy of cmpriest. Mad props to her and her immeasurable brilliance. Hopefully I did it justice. Hopefully I did good.
Hey, I know that I can’t talk you out of your delightlful lifestyle, but please don’t give real Catholics, ones who believe what the Church teaches, a bad name. If there is a classification for Pagan, I would suggest that is more appropriate.
This is from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
2357 … Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to CHASTITY. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
[I think you have at least 3 of these 4]
2396 Among the sins gravely contrary to chastity are masturbation, fornication, pornography, and homosexual practices.
1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, “eternal fire.” The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.
It is critical to remember that we face violence as youth, as people of color, as people living in poverty, as queers, as trans and gender non conforming young people. We can’t separate our identities and any approach to preventing violence must be holistic and incorporate our whole selves. We have seen an overly simplistic and un-nuanced reaction to the recent violence; from Dan Savage telling young people to wait it out until “it gets better” and from Kathy Griffin declaring that passing Gay Marriage and overturning Don’t Ask Don’t Tell would somehow stop the violence in our lives, we have found this response to be as misguided, irrelevant, and offensive as the conservative LGBT Movement itself.While youth violence is a very serious issue in our schools, the real bullies we face in our schools take the form of systemic violence perpetrated by the school system itself: a sex education that ignores queer youth and a curriculum that denies our history, a militarized school district with cops in our schools, a process of privatization which displaces us, increasing class sizes which undermine our education and safety. The national calls to end the violence against queer youth completely ignore the most violent nature of our educational experience.
As a part of the Love is Louder campaign, we at We Got Your Back want to say that:
Love is louder than prejudice within our own community! Love is louder than biphobia, transphobia, racism, sexism, ablism, classism and all oppression. Love is louder than bullying, ’cause we’ve got your back.
This is a video for children on issues of bullying and gender stereotypes. I was the director and producer. It’s based on a book by Karleen Pendleton Jimenez who worked closely with me on the video. We won Best Animation at Orlando Hispanic Film Festival, Best Web Animation at Savannah Animation Festival, CBC Canadian Reflections Award among others.
Other members of the crew include Wendy Parkin – Animation Supervisor and Co-Director, Tony Tarantini – Layout Supervisor, Alejandra Nunez – Music, Eduardo Gonzalez – sound.