Category Archives: Advice

Help Is Only A Phone Call Away

Submitted by RVC Bard:

 

If You Need Help Or Someone To Talk To, Please Use One Of These Numbers

Depression Hotline: 1-630-482-9696

Suicide Hotline: 1-800-784-8433

LifeLine: 1-800-273-8255

Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386

Sexuality Support: 1-800-246-7743

Eating Disorders Hotline: 1-847-831-3438

Rape and Sexual Assault: 1-800-656-4673

Grief Support: 1-650-321-5272

Runaway: 1-800-843-5200, 1-800-843-5678, 1-800-621-4000

A Sports Executive Leaves the Safety of His Shadow Life – Repost from the NYT

Joshua Lott for The New York Times

Rick Welts, the president of the Phoenix Suns, hopes his coming out can break the silence surrounding homosexuality in men’s team sports.

By
Published: May 15, 2011

Last month, in a Midtown office adorned with sports memorabilia, two longtime friends met for a private talk. David Stern, the commissioner of the National Basketball Association, sipped his morning coffee, expecting to be asked for career advice. Across from him sat Rick Welts, the president and chief executive of the Phoenix Suns, who had come to New York not to discuss careers, but to say, finally, I am gay.

It’s OK to be Takei!

Actor George Takei has an excellent response to the idiotic bill in Tennessee prohibiting people from saying the word Gay.

Support George! Fight back at http://bit.ly/dontsaygay

George Takei takes on the Tennessee Legislature and its “Don’t Say Gay” bill, in the way only George Takei can!

A bill now pending in Tennessee would prohibit teachers in that state from discussing homosexuality in the classroom. The so-called “don’t say gay” law is premised on the misguided belief that, by not talking about gay people, they can simply make us disappear.

George is here to tell Tennessee, and all the LGBT youth and teachers who would be affected by this law, that he is here for you. In fact, he is lending his name to the cause. Any time you need to say the word “gay,” you can simply say “Takei.”

You can buy T-shirts and other items that say “It’s OK to be Takei”, to wear and display with pride and to show Tennessee and the world that you’re against censorship and bigotry….

All the proceeds from the sales of these items will be donated to charity. Have a TAKEI old time!

You are Loved…by Gennie Z

I guess you could say that I’m not your standard bullying victim. I’ve never been physically assaulted. I’ve been called names, but ‘fortunately’ that had nothing to do with my sexual preferences. As far as bullying goes, I’ve been lucky.

I wasn’t attacked. I was invisible.

I had a few friends growing up in elementary and middle school that I could spend time with. In high school I discovered the music department, and made friends with some of the other ‘music geeks’, though at times it seemed they were just tolerating my presence because they felt sorry for me. I later switched to another high school, where I was an outcast because I was quiet, shy, and a good student. I spent my lunch breaks sitting on a bench in the sun, wearing sunglasses and pretending to be asleep because it was better than being rejected, than admitting that I was lonely.

Most bullying is acknowledged as physical and verbal abuse. But often people forget the emotional bullying, which leads to mental abuse. No, I wasn’t attacked. But the isolation, the loneliness, began to make me think that there was something wrong with me. That something about who I was, was simply unlikeable. My confidence and self-esteem plummeted, and I stayed shy and quiet, trying to stay out of the way of people who were more important than me. Because clearly, I wasn’t someone worth knowing. It was better for me to stand back and let the people who were right, and strong, and good take the spotlight.

That wasn’t to say I was always miserable. I was happy with the few friends I had, to the point of being clingy. When I was happy, I threw myself into the feeling, desperate to hold on to it. Which made the days when I was lonely, sad, and miserable, even worse.

As I hit my mid-teens, things started to get complicated. My friends and family began to make comments about my sexual preferences, hinting that they thought I was gay. I wasn’t very feminine as a teenager, because I didn’t know how to be. And something about that made the people who were important to me, as well as the people who weren’t, believe that I was hiding my interests.

Continue reading

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.’ “

 

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.

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.