Monthly Archives: October 2010

Spoken Word: For Colored Boys that Speak Softly

It Doesn’t get Better – You Get Stronger

Beyond Gay Marriage and Queer Separatists: The Call for a Working-Class Queer Movement

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.

Read more of this excellent, thoughtful article

 

Perry Moore Interview – Dennis R. Upkins

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.”
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Show your face – A Message from UW Madison

GetEqual Youth response to President Obama’s message to lgbt youth

Watch: Anti-Gay Bullied Teens GetEQUAL Message To Obama, Congress

by David Badash on October 26, 2010 · Comments (0)

in Civil Rights,Gay Agenda,Legal Issues,Legislation,Marriage,Media,News,Politics

Post image for Watch: Anti-Gay Bullied Teens GetEQUAL Message To Obama, Congress GetEQUAL co-founder Robin McGehee reached out to three icons of gay teen activism, Ceara Sturgis, Constance McMillen, and Will Phillips, all of whom found themselves victims of anti-gay bullying and harassment, and brought them together to make this video message to President Obama and Congress. It’s stunning, heartwarming, and simple: “Display the courageousness that these youth have shown by producing the change they have promised.”

MinnPost – Bullying of GLBT youth: Exploring answers to ‘Why now?’

MinnPost – Bullying of GLBT youth: Exploring answers to ‘Why now?’.

Bullying of GLBT youth: Exploring answers to ‘Why now?’

By Beth Hawkins | Published Mon, Oct 25 2010 10:29 am

Many, many questions have yet to end up with satisfactory answers in the recent spate of suicides of gay teens. Not least: Why now?

Why, in an era when gays and lesbians have gained so much acceptance, are GLBT teens still so much more vulnerable than their classmates? And why, despite having several decades to get up to speed on the issue, are schools still Ground Zero for this front in the culture war?

In the last year, seven teens attending Anoka-Hennepin Public Schools, Minnesota’s largest district with 40,000 students, have killed themselves. At least two were known to be gay, and critics have blamed the district’s controversial policy of “neutrality” in curriculum.

In July, 15-year-old Justin Aaberg killed himself in his bedroom in Andover. Aaberg was openly gay and had a very supportive mother who had no idea he was the target of frequent bullying.

It seems like such progress: A teen who is secure enough to come out to his family and friends and even date, according to some news reports. One would think Aaberg could have turned to any number of places for help when he found himself in crisis.

<– more..>

More high schoolers come out now
Phil Duran is general counsel for the gay-rights organization OutFront Minnesota. His answer to the “why now” question: Visibility.

“Twenty-five years ago, the issue didn’t get much attention,” said Duran. “No one really thought to be out in high school.”

In four states, gays and lesbians can now marry. More kids now come from families headed by same-sex couples. And the number of openly gay celebrities has exploded.

With all of this seeming normalcy, more kids feel it’s OK to come out — which is a good thing, Duran said. Except that as a society we haven’t dealt with lots of baggage from previous eras.

Suicide rates have always been higher among gay teens than straights. And thanks to a study done by the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office in the 1990s, we know that GLBT teens and overweight children are bullies’ most frequent targets.

Suicide, dropout rates high
Gay, lesbian and bisexual youth are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts, according to the Department Health and Human Services. And 28 percent of gay students will drop out of school — more than three times the national average for heterosexual students.

At the same time, bullying on the whole has gotten worse. Kids used to at least be able to get away from their tormentors by going home at the end of the day. But cyberbullying [PDF] happens around the clock, and frequently in places where adults aren’t paying attention.

The problem is so bad, in fact, that some Minnesota lawmakers have called for a special session to address the issue. In the last session, Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed anti-bullying legislation.

Add to this complicated stew the fact that equality for gays and lesbians is possibly the most divisive issue in today’s culture wars, and you end up with a situation in which those gay teens must navigate some bizarre adult politics.

Confusion about policy
Future Learning Curve blog posts will take more thorough looks at various aspects of the sprawling controversy, but the abbreviated version of what happened in Anoka-Hennepin is that the district attempted to respond to the concerns of community conservatives by implementing a policy mandating curriculum be “neutral” on matters of sexual orientation.

“It took a year and a half for Anoka-Hennepin to tell staff what it meant,” said Durant. “In that time there was confusion about what the adults could and couldn’t do.”

He and other critics say staff were given little guidance on how to interpret the rule, creating, in effect, a situation where anytime a student’s sexual orientation came up the adults in the room took two steps back.

District administrators have since clarified the policy: Curriculum must remain neutral, but intervention is warranted on behalf of any student who reports bullying of any kind, and when teachers and others learn that a student is struggling with his or her sexuality or any other issue, they should act to help the student find appropriate resources.

An avalanche of comments
Just that clarification has stirred a political hornet’s nest. Anoka administrators are struggling to deal with an avalanche of angry calls and e-mails from people on both sides of the issues. Superintendent Dennis Carlson was even contacted by the U.S. Justice Department earlier this fall about the possibility of community-wide mediation; Carlson is interested, but the feds have yet to follow through, according to his office.

The grownups had better get their acts together, said Durant, because teens will continue to leave the closet and will continue to struggle as a result. Thorny issues are already showing up at far earlier ages than ever anticipated: “More and more elementary students will now talk about a transgender experience,” he said.

“Ultimately what needs to happen is there needs to be an engagement of students and families when they start kindergarten: ‘This is how we treat people,’ ” Duran said. “You can’t train kids to like the person next to them. But you can say ‘This is the code of conduct.’ “

 

Thank you!

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 wegotyourbackproject@gmail.com

Look for the video recorded tonight to be up on the site soon.

High School sucked … by Erin

I went to a school in the exurbs of Detroit (for those who know the area Northwest Oakland County), one of schools that is a selling point for the nice houses in the newly sprouted subdivisions.  It was one of those schools that even offered a variety of support groups for kids who  may have had various problems.  It should have been a great place for a kid with some of the “issues” I had (new girl, introvert, depression, queer). My junior year was miserable, but my senior year, I started to pull my self together and started to be more out publicly, and then there were problems…

The first problem was when the student newspaper was going to do a story on the queer students at WLC, and I was expressly forbidden to use my real name during the interview; because, I might not really be gay (besides, I don’t look like a gay),  and the school doesn’t want to be responsible for me if I come out.

I don’t listen very well, so I came out in other ways than in a HS newspaper. I came out in AP English, I told people at lunch, I called people on their hetero-sexist bullshit. And it caused problems…leading to a moment where I was walking the gauntlet of junior and senior guys (aka the hallway to get from English to US Government)  and a group of guys circled round and told me how they were going to “make me straight”. I was rescued by a sympathetic teacher, but when I sought to have the problem addressed. The school councilor told me because she didn’t think I was really a lesbian, the guys who threatened my safety in school were completely unpunished.

The Safe School Improvement Act of 2010 should be passed, so that kids can feel safe going from English to US Government. So that don’t have their identity invalidated by a school professional. And so things are actually made better for kids now; rather than telling kids it might get better later.

“Trans-nationality”

I am multiethnic and transgendered. I am the human label-breaker.

I grew up hearing that I’m half Japanese and half Jewish. For the
observer, this genetic algebra equated to a whole person. I wasn’t put
in a box- I was sliced in half; subdivided and subjugated. In truth I
carry twice the heritage and just as much angst.

In life, I check the box marked [other].

I am a gender-ninja, hiding in plain-sight. The Japanese American
community isn’t one that is particularly open to talking about…
anything. Because of this, I have never come out in public. It’s not
that everyone in the community is closed-minded. Culturally, it is
seen as intrusive to either ask or tell something so personal about
yourself. Though frustrating, it afforded me the room to grow.

My cultural heritage taught me the importance of community and the
bravery to stand up in the face of ignorance and hate. It is a comfort
to know that wherever my journey takes me or how dark it becomes, I
belong to something bigger. My ethnic identity helped to build a
foundation upon which to discover myself. What I developed was the
resolve to self-advocate; to believe that a world without me, my
perspective and my voice, would result in even more generations of
We,the lost children of a Black and White, Male and Female, straight
and narrow world.

Be you. Be us. Be free. I’ve got your back.

-Anonymous

A look at the lives of gay teens – Article from NPR

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

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Discussion – Do Churches contribute to gay suicides?

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.

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A message from our President

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.

Bullying and the 105% (reposted with permission from rm on LJ)

bullying and the 105%
Bullying happens for lots of reasons.

These include:
– bullies choosing to bully.
– cycles of abuse.
– biological impulses towards hierarchy.
– cultural glorification of violence.
– cultural shaming of various traits and interests.
– adults who look the other way.
– childhood and adult fears about identity and fitting in.
– features that people who are bullied can’t change.
– features that people who are bullied shouldn’t be asked to change.
– features that it may be reasonable to suggest people who are bullied address.

But when I was bullied as a kid, and prank calls came to my house calling a “cock-sucking whore,” let me tell you the right response, when I was TWELVE and at an all-girls school, was not for my father to ask me what I had done to deserve this.
*
I’m one of those people who tries hard to live life at 105%. I realize that’s a privilege to a given degree, but I do also think — perhaps wrongly and ruthlessly — that everyone’s always got another tiny, extra sliver of fucking effort to give.

But it’s not a damn obligation.

And while I am also always about strategy and pragmatism and survival, because those are my choices and my nature, victim-blaming is always wrong.

Which is why I find this post from [info]theferrett upsetting. And his response to my (very possibly distressing for many) comment even more so.
*
I have made the choice, more literally than most people, over and over again, not to change my name, not to change my face, and not to run away from home.

Would you like me better if I was named Heather? How about Aleksandra? Andrea? Jenny? When I joined SAG, I thought long and hard about these things, and it was a terrible moment. Look, it’s my actual job to make people like me.

You know who doesn’t have that job? Some random eight-year-old who isn’t beautiful, who has “weird” interests, who’s a different race than her classmates, who has non-gender confirming hobbies, who’s too smart, who has a difficult home life, who lives with a disability, etc., etc., etc.

So don’t fucking tell me I didn’t work hard enough not to be bullied. Or that I should have just worn a pretty dress. Or not been sick. Or tried not to learn things. Or made my parents name me something else.

I lived. That was, in this regard, all the work I was ever supposed to have to do.

What is wrong with this world? Another young life gone too soon.

Second gay teen this month takes his life — another case of anti-gay bullying

LGBTQ Nation • Thursday, October 21, 2010 • Comments (3)

Teen suicides within the LGBT community continue at an alarming rate — todayLGBTQ Nation has learned of another recent victim of anti-gay bullying.

Terrel Williams

Terrel Williams, a 17-year-old native of Beverly Hills, CA, took his life on October 13, just hours after being attacked by five other high school students, and pushed and thrown into a brick wall at Clover Park High School in Lakewood, WA.

Terrel’s mother, Cheryl Williams, found her son in their Lakewood home — he had hanged himself in his bedroom closet. Terrel left a suicide note:

“I’m sorry to my immediate loved ones, but I feel suicide is the only way out. I felt coming out, and being happy with Daric, was the best thing I could’ve ever done. But I didn’t think it would lead to my death at an early age.

“Today, was the record worst day of my life, some kids at school stole some of my stuff that I got from people I really cared about, and that really pushed me over the top, next to being shoved into a wall, and my ribs being broken.”

Terrel’s boyfriend, Daric Rawr, told LGBTQ Nation that following the incident on Oct. 13, Terrel had to be picked up and brought home from school. Daric said he was unaware of the attack and was on his way to Terrel’s home to attend a family dinner when Terrel’s mother called to tell him she had found her son hanging in his closet.

In a statement posted on Terrel’s Twitter page on Wednesday, Cheryl Williams wrote:

My son meant the world, and high school bullies pushed him over the edge. I hope and pray, that no other child ever has to go through what he did. Bullying isn’t worth it. Why can’t people just be nice?

This Saturday would have been Terrel’s 18th birthday, and the 7th anniversary of Terrel’s and Daric’s relationship.

The boys met and became friends when they were 10 and 9 years old, respectively. “We began as play dates, like anybody else would, and as we got older into the teen years, his parents allowed us to give dating a shot,” said Daric, who is now 16 years old.

“Terrel was a compassionate, fun loving, outgoing person who enjoyed life to the fullest,” said Daric.

“He loved life, but felt the need to take it, because [the bullying] didn’t stop … respectful, whole hearted people like Terrel, and the growing number of others, shouldn’t have to feel suicide is the answer, because bullies won’t stop.”

To date, there has not been any formal action yet from the school district in regards to the bullying incident.

On September 31, Terrel suffered a gunshot wound to the chest while visiting New York City in what appeared to be an attempted mugging.

Terrel’s death is the second reported suicide this month among gay teens, and follows an epidemic of LGBT suicides reported in the past 6 weeks. In September, at least 6 teens teens committed suicide as a result of anti-gay bullying and intolerance.

Yesterday we reported that 19-year-old Corey Jackson, of Warren, MI, was found in a wooded area of the Oakland University campus in Rochester, MI. The Oakland County medical examiner confirmed Corey’s death was also a suicide by hanging.

 

When will it end?

Mich. Gay College Student Kills Himself

By Advocate.com Editors

COREY JACKSON X390 (FAIR) | ADVOCATE.COM

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.

Yet another loss… (article courtesy of the Michigan Messenger)

Gay Oakland University student found dead of suicide on campus

By Todd A. Heywood 10/20/10 4:45 PM Digg Tweet

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.

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What White Queers Can Do To Combat Racism In Our Own Community – By Clowny Princess

What White Queers Can Do To Combat Racism In Our Own Community

By Clownyprincess

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.
And listen.
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.

Take Action

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.

 

It’s Ally Week, what are you doing to be a better Ally?

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?”

September 2010

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:
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Apologetics – Neo Prodigy

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.

Dear Denny,

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.

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On Being GLBT* and Living with a Disability by PD

On Being GLBT* and Living with a Disability

I’ve been wondering what to write for the “We Got Your Back” project. Neo Prodigy wrote a great essay (reposted here), which has a lot of generally-useful information as well as information targeted at teens of color. I wanted to expand on it with some thoughts for disabled teens. I use “GLBT*” as an acronym covering Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersexed, Questioning, and other non-mainstream forms of gender and sexual expression (I’m a geek, so of course I’d use an asterisk as a wildcard character).

As a note, if the tips below sound like I’m equating homophobia with some forms of violence and abuse? I am. In that vein, I have taken the liberty of adapting knowledge from domestic violence advocacy in developing this advice, including some relevant links. I do this because I’m more concerned with helping people who will be endangered by coming out than in only offering uplifting advice (though I offer some of that, too).

You Are Beautiful

As disabled people, we are often taught that our disabilities make us undesirable. Being GLBT* often adds another cultural message of unlovability to this equation. In my own experience, the diversity of tastes that humans have is so broad and expansive that everyone has something about them that someone else will find beautiful. There is no sound basis to believe that you will “always be alone” when it comes to love and relationships, unless that is specifically what you want.

Your Body, Your Self

You have a right to be sexual, and to decide when, how, and if you want to exercise that sexuality. This is true regardless of your sexual orientation, but it cannot be reinforced enough: Your body is yours. No one else has the automatic right to decide what to do with it.

Unfortunately, disabled people are at extremely high risk of abuse of all kinds: sexual, physical, emotional, and so on. If you a survivor of abuse, I strongly encourage you to find someone to talk to: a trusted adult, members of the clergy, a therapist, or even a support hotline.

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Gender JUST’s Response to Recent Suicides

Gender JUST,  a Chicago organization led by queer youth of color, has a released a amazing statement about the recent suicides of LGBTQIA youth:
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.

Love is Louder…than whatever divides us!

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.

Ann’s story

For a long time (over 10 years), my historical narrative skipped from
fall of 1997 to fall of 1998 (fall of 8th grade to fall of 9th grade,
for reference). Spring of 1998, the concluding term of my 8th grade
year, didn’t happen. I did not think about it, I did not care to
remember anything that happened that semester, I actively refused to
admit that it existed.

I was a weird kid, I admit that: awkward, too shy for my own good (and
social-wellbeing), ugly and skinny-chubby in that A Rush of Estrogen
to the Hips kind of way, and, worst of all, admittedly naive with my
own sexuality… not to mention the sexual temperature of the average
American eighth grader. I knew the words they were using when they
called me “lesbo” and “homo”, and I knew they were “scary”, but I
didn’t know why they were so very wrong.
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A message from Jamie

Originally submitted for the It Gets Better Project, Jamie shared his video for We Got Your Back.

Thank you for sharing your story!

David Urqhart

Mr. Urqhart shared this video with us, originally done for the IDAHO exhibit in Sydney, Australia earlier in the year.

 

Thank you again for sharing this video David.

11 facts about school bullying from Do Something

11 facts about school bullying

  1. An estimated 2 out of 3 teens are verbally or physically harassed or assaulted every year.
  2. The most common reason cited for being harassed is a student’s appearance or body size. 2 out of 5 teens feel that they are bullied because of the way that they look.
  3. One-third of teens are harassed because they are or are perceived to be lesbian, gay, or bisexual.
  4. 1 in 4 teachers see nothing wrong with bullying and will only intervene 4% percent of the time.
  5. A victim of bullying is twice as likely to take his or her own life compared to someone who is not a victim.
  6. 64% of American school principals say that student who is a racial minority would feel safe at their school.
  7. Physical bullying peak in middle school and declines in high school. Verbal abuse rates remain constant from elementary to high school.
  8. Researchers feel that schools should not be treated as part of growing up (with the attitude “kids will be kids”).
  9. 41% of principals say they have programs designed to create a safe environment for LGBT students, but only 1/3 of principals say that LGBT students would feel safe at their school.
  10. 57% of students who experience harassment in school never report the incident to the school. 10% of those who do not report stay quiet because they do not believe that teachers or staff can do anything.
  11. Schools with easily understood rules of conduct, smaller class sizes and fair discipline practices report less violence than those without such features.
  12. Sources: NASP, The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network,

It Gets Different: An Essay from Marianne Kirby of The Rotund

 

I can’t actually promise anyone it will get better. And I think it would be, with the lived experience of my life, disingenuous to try. And I’m not going to lie to anyone: it doesn’t always get better.

But it does get… different. That might not seem like much, especially when you are on the low side of down, but it means everything to me.

Bullies are trying to exert their power over someone else. I’m not entirely sure why that feels good for some people – though I sometimes think it is to make up for a lack of power in other areas of their lives, I tend to shy away from pat, universal answers. Sometimes people are just cruel people.

That doesn’t go away when you’re an adult.

But here is what happens: When you’re playing an RP game, and you first start out, there are these enemies at the beginning of the game who seem impossible. All you’ve got is, like, a flashlight, if that, and you don’t know where you are or what to do. You fight those enemies and sometimes they wound you gravely and you limp along avoiding other fights until you find something that will heal you. You repeat the process, and you level up.

You keep leveling up until, when you go back and fight those early monsters, they seem like a cakewalk in comparison. The enemy isn’t changed at all – they are still the same low-hit-point ridiculous monsters they were at the beginning of your campaign. But you have changed. You’ve survived in spite of them and sometimes you even get to deliver a hearty fuck you in the midst of it all.

That’s very satisfying, I’m not gonna lie.

Read the rest of the great, geeky, and wise essay at the Rotund!

Queer and Loathing: Does the Foster System Bully Gay, I mean Trans Kids?

Mother Jones has published a heart-breaking article about the bullying of LGBTQIA kids in the foster system. The article tells the story of a teenager named Kenneth and the struggle to find an accepting foster family. Kenneth has good grades, no criminal record, and is coping with the challenges in his life well. But when he brought home his first date, here’s what happened.

James, Kenneth’s foster father, returned to the apartment one night to find the boys talking and laughing in the front room. The introductions immediately turned into what Kenneth calls a “life-or-death situation.”

James wasn’t blind to his foster son’s sexuality. The young man was decidedly out—preaching tolerance at school assemblies, appearing on teen panels, and advocating gay pride in rainbow pamphlets. He even showed up to court hearings wearing lipstick. Privately, though, James dismissed all of it as a phase. And Kenneth, to avoid rocking the boat, had downplayed his sexuality at home—until now.

When James—a retired demolition worker with missing front teeth and a heavyweight’s body—saw Kenneth with his date, he grew livid. “What are you doing bringing a boy into my house?” he screamed, according to Kenneth. He ordered them out, but the boy stood his ground. James got up in his face. “I’ll kick your asses,” he threatened. Taking him at his word, the couple fled, with James chasing them down the stairs and out the door. The boyfriend called 911.

This night began Kenneth’s struggle to find a new foster family.  I hope that you’ll read the rest of the article.  If you do, you may notice something that I noticed.  Through out the article, Kenneth’s gender expression is mentioned – Kenneth paints his nails and wears lipstick.  Kenneth’s mannerisms are described as feminine.  My ears perked up.  Is Kenneth just a femme gay boy or is this an example of a transkid being assumed to be gay because too few people think that a teenager could be transgender?   Of course, only Kenneth can clear up this question.  But then I read the last line of the article:  “After the New Year,[Kenneth]  settled on the solution [for the state's inability to find an appropriate foster family]—a sex change. He’d been considering it for a year and had enrolled in the required counseling sessions at a local clinic, but only now could he articulate his reason for wanting to reboot his identity: He would be safer as a woman. “I’m getting really tired,” Kenneth explains. “I don’t have no other options left.”

I’m not going to draw conclusions about someone else’s gender identity. But this article left me feeling sad for more than one reason.   It’s clear that trans issues need to be in the consciousness of LGBTQIA folks advocating for teenagers in the foster system, journalists writing about queer issues, and everyone involved in the foster care system.   The lives of young people like Kenneth depend on it.  And making that change can start with us at the We Got Your Back Project.

When a youth-services nonprofit surveyed its 246 foster families, it found only 21 who were willing to accept a gay teenager.  Imagine what the numbers might have been for trans-teenagers.  I hope you’ll share your thoughts about this article and the larger issue here or on our facebook page.

Yours,

Joy

Tomboy – A Video About Gender Expression and Bullying

http://player.vimeo.com/video/10654889

Tomboy from Barb Taylor on Vimeo.

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.