Friday, August 29, 2008
Officer Darlene Harris, of the Atlanta Police Department, is intersex.
Intersex people are born with chromosomal anomalies or ambiguous genitalia. The medical term "hermaphrodite" has been used, but is not accepted by many intersex people. Medical professionals commonly assign a male or female gender to the individual and proceed to perform gender assignment surgeries beginning in infancy and often continuing into adolescence, before a child is able to give informed consent. Read more about intersexuality here. And read Officer Harris' story in The Atlanta Constitution-Journal.
For Officer Harris, discovering her intersexuality was the lifting of a great burden of misunderstanding about herself. “It was like, ‘OK, I’m not crazy,’ All of these things came together full circle at that moment. I now understood the reason why I am the way I am... It’s freedom, total freedom. It’s like I can fly.”
For further research and resource for and about the intersex community, be sure to check out the Intersex Society of North America.
Ellen's GLBT Teens Blog
The blog features articles geared for young people on topics ranging from dealing with homophobic parents to entertainment and current events. Says Brooke, "This blog answers questions for teens who are questioning their sexuality, want to come out, and have recently come out. It also covers recent news related to youth, such as the murder of Lawrence King. "
Sean Fritz and Tim McQuillan, two men from Ames, became Iowa's first, and only, same-sex couple to marry before the judge's ruling was put on hold pending an appeal. Now the Iowa Supreme Court seems likely to rule on the appeal in 2009. What do they think of what the future holds? Says McQuillan, “We look forward to the Supreme Court making the right decision... I’d be kind of disappointed if they didn’t. ... But it’s not a big deal. There’s always California or Massachusetts. It’s not like we’d become unmarried.”
In the meantime the two do have something else to celebrate besides their distinction as the first and sole same-sex couple to enjoy marriage equality in the Hawkeye State: it's also their first anniversary! Read more about them in The Des Moines Register article out today. Perhaps with the next Iowa Supreme Court ruling, others in that state will be able to enjoy the marriage equality Tim and Sean do.
Produced by Maryland's PFLAG Columbia- Howard County chapter, the ad campaign willsoon be featured on local area buses this September. The video will also be featured as public service announcement on Comcast's Bravo Channel.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
At PFLAG National, we do a lot of education about the strengths of every culture and how we can work together in the GLBT movement. We recognize each culture plays a part in contributing to the progressive strides we have made for the GLBT community, as well as to contributing to the tactics that hold our movement back. This article reflects there is a very even national distribution of those for marriage equality and those against marriage equality, regardless of race or ethnicity. Every culture has its civil rights leaders and those who are less supportive of equality. Let us look for commonalities and ways we can encourage our families and friends or every race and ethnicity to be civil rights leaders this election year.
As we consider marriage, voting, and diverse racial and ethnic groups, let us also consider what ties marriage to other civil rights. Marriage is critical this year, especially in California, but we need to be ever-mindful of the many facets in the struggle for equality.
Read Gay Marriage and the Black Vote.
Looking for a way to move equality forward today? Be sure to thank Hallmark for their same-sex wedding cards...
As many of you have read, and some posted to PFLAGall, Hallmark has begun producing a fantastic line of congratulations cards for same-sex couples who have gotten married. Unfortunately, organizations like the American Family Association are up in arms about these new cards and calling Hallmark to complain.
PFLAG National sent out an action alert today asking members to call Hallmark and let them know how supportive we are of these new cards. You can access our action alert at http://capwiz.com/pflag/issues/alert/?alertid=11852661.
PFLAGers across the country are taking our call to action a step further. Annette from Indianapolis, Indiana bought a thank you card from a Hallmark store and sent it to the Chairman of hall mark at:
Donald J. Hall, Chairman
2501 McGee Trafficway
Kansas City, MO 64108
Ann in Lake Peekskill, NY forwarded the action alert to her Unitarian Universalist fellowship and to the local gay straight alliance. Thank you Ann! Several people have emailed Hallmark. If you are interested in emailing please contact Hallmark's customer service. As always, please remember to be friendly and keep with a pro-family message.
Thank you to everyone who has called or emailed Hallmark so far!
-Elizabeth Hampton Brown
PFLAG, Oregon State Council, PFLAG Portland, Unity Project of Oregon (UPO) and Basic Rights Oregon (BRO) will establish the first Black/ African- American chapter in Oregon. This will be PFLAG Oregon State Council’s first ever paid position made possible through the support of the McKenzie River Gathering Foundation, PFLAG National’s Families of Color outreach initiative and the Equity Foundation.
“By building an African American/Black PFLAG chapter, we at PFLAG and UPO plan to support the leadership of the African American community to create a safe space where the unique experiences of families and allies with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender loved ones can be addressed,” states Teri Noble, PFLAG Oregon State Council Coordinator.
The Oregon State Council is also excited to announce the hire of community organizer Inger McDowell:
Inger comes to this position with excellent credentials including five years as a community organizer for a statewide coalition in Nevada, where she helped with the formation of gay/straight alliances, held a position for two years on the board of the only GLBTQ organization in Reno, Nevada, and has over two years working here in Portland with the American Federation of Teachers Healthcare Division and the Service Employees International Union.
“We couldn’t be more excited to have Inger on board for this ground-breaking work,” says Noble.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
One of the complaints I have heard frequently is how parents as well as teachers who witness anti-gay bullying and name-calling will turn a blind eye to it. This enables and encourages anti-gay harassment and violence. And in today's Baltimore Sun, Tim Smith's Teach Your Children Well examines the recent murder of a Baltimore 18-year old by his friends... simply for being suspected of being gay. And Smith poses a question: where did this hate come from?
Just days from graduating high school, Steven Parrish was stabbed and stomped to death by "friends" who feared he was gay. Smith notes, "Such incidents don't occur in a vacuum. Human beings don't come out of the womb despising homosexuality." They are taught by their peers, their community, their parents and in schools. A sea-change is needed in understanding the variety of human sexuality. Until that understanding and tolerance is taught and shown to young people, tragedies like Steven's will continue to happen.
Blogger Diane Dimond writes at HuffingtonPost.com that a new study from Fight Crime: Invest in Kids shows an undeniable link between bullying today and criminal behavior tomorrow.
“[N]early 60 percent of boys whom researchers classified as bullies in grades 6-9 were convicted of at least one crime by the age of 24,” Dimond writes. “And get this, 40 percent of those same boys grew up to have three or more criminal convictions.”
The key to stopping the harassment and bullying, Dimond notes, lies with adults. Responding – to both the kids and their parents – can make all the difference in the world. Because young people rarely exhibit bullying behavior in front of their own parents, it’s up to others in the community to be pro-active in driving the message home.
“That means other adults have to step up at schools, camps, sporting events and youth activity centers,” Dimond writes. “We need to tell parents when their children are being bullies. And we should teach all kids to refuse to join in the taunting. It is abuse, pure and simple. Children can be scarred for life by a bully. And, once robbed of their self esteem they can suffer from mental and physical problems, drop out of school and even commit suicide.”
Of course, we know that gay, transgender, questioning and gender-variant young people are at an especially high risk of the worst consequences from bullying. The truth is that we need ot teach students, teachers and school personnel about empathy, and about the nature and specifics of the bullying that LGBT students face. And that is why we tell our stories, and share our experiences, with schools. We need to peel away the hostility and silence that surrounds our children.
It’s all about learning from example, and taking stands to stop trends.
As Dimond’s HuffingtonPost column reminds us, individuals from every walk of life can – and must – take steps to stop the cycle of bullying. The consequences we, and our kids, face by leaving bullying unchecked are clear and undeniable for everyone involved.
To read Dimond’s full write-up, click here. And for more information on what you can do to help with PFLAG’s safe schools work, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
When you call, please be sure to mention the following important points:
- Pennsylvania’s kids shouldn’t be subjected to harmful, disproven programs. Medical professionals and researchers agree that abstinence-only doesn’t work, and in fact contributes to higher levels of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Pennsylvania’s kids shouldn’t be made to participate in a program that experts call harmful and counter-productive.
But what about growing up to be President of the United States?
It's something many children dream about, but what are the prospects of one day having an openly gay president? According to a recent poll, over 60% of Americans would vote for an openly gay president.
Furthermore, the study shows that "67% of voters would support an openly-gay vice president, 69% would support a gay senator, and 71% would support a gay cabinet-level secretary."
With the continuing push for equality, the sky is increasingly becoming the limit for the next generation of LGBT leadership. Who knows... one day the president of your local Gay-Straight Alliance could be the President of the U.S.
The forces pushing this hurtful measure aren't just anti-our families; they're anti-every family.
Monday, August 25, 2008
"We'll marry each other as often as needed," writes Morris. Unfortunately this has been the reality for far too many committed couples. Take, for instance, the Matsumura family. Elly, daughter of proud PFLAG parents Molleen and Ken Matsumura, married her wife back in 2004 when San Francisco rolled out the red carpet for marriage equality... only to see their marriage invalidated. Ultimately, they were allowed to marry again when the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of equality this summer. But as with Bob and Ira, the specter of that right being taken away again seems all too real with a ballot initiative that would again nullify their nuptials.
How would the heterosexual community react if they had to fear their marriages could be undone with a vote or ruling? Or that by crossing state lines their marriage recognition vanished? This is the reality for LGBT Americans, and this is why we need full marriage equality. In the meantime, be sure to check out http://www.noonprop8.com/!
Friday, August 22, 2008
"But they worked through it," the paper continues, "and Mr. Quinn is now a reluctant but consistent supporter of gay causes. He regularly marches in the annual Gay Pride Parade, and, according to Ms. Quinn, he sometimes uses 'we' to speak of the gay community."
"Mr. Quinn has become close to Anthony Catullo, the father of Ms. Quinn’s partner. The two men, both military veterans and widowers, lounge together on the beach in New Jersey on summer weekends, where Ms. Quinn has a house."
On Saturday night at the Saddleback Church forum, Pastor Rick Warren asked both candidates about their definition of marriage, and both said that it was between one man and one woman.
This felt like exclusion, if not discrimination, to many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans. And unfortunately, neither presidential candidate was asked about how they would welcome the LGBT community into the conversations about faith.
That’s too bad because history and progress are often made in the pews. The struggle for civil rights for blacks began largely in our churches — and was led largely by clergy — and was born out of a deep sense of religious conviction, rooted in the tradition of loving thy neighbor as thyself.
Today, however, LGBT Americans struggle to find the same passion for equality within some communities of faith.
"[W]here would an openly gay or lesbian, bisexual or transgender appointee or elected official make the most difference during the next administration?"
Opinion makers from actress Rue McClanahan to entrepreneur Charlie Rounds weighed in.
PFLAG executive director Jody Huckaby also answered the query, calling on Americans to "Imagine the impact of having the first Secretary of Education who is also the parent of a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender school-aged child."
"In the wake of the tragic murder of Lawrence King - and surveys showing that LGBT young people are far more likely than their heterosexual peers to drop out of, or not excel in, school – having a prominent national advocate who understands the importance of setting safe schools goals could make all the difference in the world," he writes.
You can read Jody's full response here. And for other suggestions on LGBT leaders for the next administration, visit 365Gay.com online.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Yes... if you are a member of the Native American Coquille tribe. The Oregon News explains:
"As a federally recognized sovereign nation, the tribe is not bound by the Oregon's Constitution. The tribe recently adopted a law that recognizes same-sex marriage and extends to gay and lesbian partners, at least one of whom must be a Coquille, all tribal benefits of marriage."
So, with the backing of their tribe,
Update: Join the conversation about Jindal's decision at Pam's House Blend, The Bilerico Project, The Michael-in-Norfolk blog, and at Lavender Newswire.
The entire PFLAG family mourns the loss of Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, one of our nation’s true champions of equality. From employment non-discrimination to the military to equality for bi-national couples, Congresswoman Jones was an ardent advocate for the dignity of every American. She never shirked from any civil rights battle, and never failed to stand up and give voice to those who often felt voiceless. Our thoughts and prayers are with Congresswoman Jones’ family. Congress, and our country, have lost one of the biggest hearts of the heartland.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I write this story about an amazing woman, my 81 year-old mother, Rachel Hervey, RN, who lives just outside of the sleepy little town of Santa Margarita on the Central Coast of California. Twenty five years ago, my brother came out to us as a gay man, and thus it all began. My mother decided to act. In 1991, she started up the Central Coast Chapter of PFLAG with another woman. Many times they were the only two at the meetings, though as the years went by, more and more folks joined until we were up to 45 members. My mother independently staffed our PFLAG hotline for seven years, taking calls at all times of the day or night, patiently listening to everyone who called, regardless of the issue. She began a Cal Trans Adopt-a-Highway clean up program in PFLAG's name, and for many years kept a section of the highway clean by herself. Today, my dad carries on the family tradition.
In 1992, my mom started the PFLAG information table downtown during our weekly Farmers' Market in San Luis Obispo on Thursday nights - we are a clearinghouse for those who visit. We provide free educational materials, and are there to support and advocate for our gay citizens on the Central Coast (and elsewhere). For years, she went downtown every Thursday night (except in the winter time), set up the table, worked it and took it down by herself.
She purchased seats at the Clark Center in Arroyo Grande (one of the local performing arts centers) in PFLAG's name; she made a donation to the William F. Clinton Library in Arkansas in the name of PFLAG and her family; for many years, she hired an artist to do a piece of work at our local i Madonnari street fair, which is now done by the chapter. She has contributed her time, energy and love in so many ways over the years that it's hard to keep track.
She was the one who kept after me for so long to "get into the schools..." I ended up serving as president of our chapter for almost four years running. We took our dog-and-pony show into the schools; middle schools, high schools, community colleges, our local university; we hit them all. We held meetings with superintendents, principals, PTAs, college residence halls advisors, the entire athletic department at Cal Poly, Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, and churches... they all know our name. My sons used to think our last name was "PFLAG!"
She helped with fund raisers at the Madonna Inn and in people's homes. She showed movies at the Palm Theater and any other venue we could think of. We earned money to buy films on gay issues to put into the schools, earned money for materials to give out on the streets and buttons to sell to the young people who would wear them proudly - "We love our gay son," or "Proud to be the mother of a lesbian daughter!"
She has been the biggest advocate for PFLAG that we'll ever know. She regularly calls into the local radio talk show, writes letters to the editor, representatives in Congress, and the Senate. She even has the ability to call the White House once a week for free (which she does!) with her telephone long distance carrier. The woman is amazing. There is nothing she won't do to help protect the safety of her son, and gays and lesbians everywhere.
And she's the one who always encouraged us to help others...which we do. I couldn't be more proud of her if I tried.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Right-wing "military" activist Elaine Donnelly (pictured), fresh off of her critically disastrous appearance before the House Armed Services Committee, is again maligning the professionalism of our troops, the capabilites of military commanders and the common-sense of the American public.
In an August 14 op-ed in the Chicago Tribune, Donnelly makes her same old argument, wrapped up in new-sounding rhetoric, that straight troops simply won't tolerate gay colleagues and that asking them to do so would unravel the very seams which hold one of the world's most revered fighting forces together.
It is a "radical cultural change," she asserts, to ask professional people to simply get along and do the jobs they were hired to do.
Donnelly's missive, which dismisses any rational ideas about what a service member's priorities are inside a war zone, tries to make her argument, which is the equivalent of "gay foxhole panic," sound reasonable. It is not, and Donnelly is flat-out wrong in almost every way.
Photo by Rudy K. Photography
PageOneQ has the complete story on Guadalupe Benítez (shown above left, with her family) who was denied treatment. In a victory for public health for all people in California, Benítez said, "It was an awful thing to go through... It was very painful — the fact that you have someone telling you they will not help you because of who you are, that they will deny your right to be a mother and have a family."
It's frightening to think there are some medical professionals who would deny care to someone simply because of who they are. This ruling will hopefully send a clear message that equal medical care is a fundamental right for everybody.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Following up on this story, today the Los Angeles Times ran an article about other school district boards electing to take sides, either for or against equality. One school board member interviewed was pro-equality:
"Katz-Lacabe, a computer security consultant in the San Francisco Bay Area suburb of San Leandro, strongly disagreed [with an opponent]. 'This amendment would essentially enshrine discrimination into the Constitution . . . a perfect example of state-sponsored discrimination,' he said."
Unfortunately there are several school board members out there who don't share these views, and want to encourage their communities to vote away marriage equality. And one has to ask, what kind of message does that send to students in the community?
When school members presume to speak for their communities in saying that LGBT people don't deserve the same privileges, it sends a clear message to young people: LGBT students are not equal, and bullying, harassment and unequal treatment are "O.K."
It's sad that in such a progressive state as California there are still people on school boards who are more concerned with giving people second-class citizenship than with doing what ought to be focused on: protecting and educating young people. It's time to stop sending anti-gay messages to young people, and start talking about what schools are doing to ensure they are safe learning environments for everybody.
Also, if you haven't seen it yet, here is a television ad from Let California Ring, a pro-marriage equality group. This funny, yet powerful, commercial that just might give people pause for thought on what marriage discrimination might feel like. "What if you couldn't marry the person you love?"
A new controversy has started over another children's book featuring marriage equality. This time, it's Uncle Bobby's Wedding, featuring two same-sex guinea pigs who get married as seen through the eyes of the eponymous guinea pig's niece.
Dana over at Mombian has the scoop. Apparently a parent is upset in Douglas County, Colorado and thinks that children seeing a book depicting marriage equality is "inappropriate." Which begs the question, what about youth who have LGBT parents, LGBT loved ones (like the niece in the story), parents who want their children to have open minds and LGBT youth themselves? Banning books sends a chilling message to anyone who supports equality. Kudos to the director of the library, James LaRue, for insisting that the book stays! You can read his response here.
Friday, August 15, 2008
After the so-called "Citizens for Responsible Government" claimed they had enough signatures, their petition was challenged by Equality Maryland. Montgomery County Circuit Judge Robert A. Greenberg ruled Equality Maryland missed the deadline to challenge the referendum. Now, the Daily Record says, "The Court of Special Appeals... said it will hear the case Sept. 8, leaving sufficient time to render a decision before Election Day, Nov. 4."
We will keep you posted on these developments in Maryland. See also:
Religious Right Targets Transgender Community
Petition Challenge in Maryland
Opponents of equality tried to gather enough signatures to create a referendum similar to the ballot initiative in California, Proposition 8. In effect, they wanted to roll back the partnership protection offered by the state of Oregon.
"This case was never necessarily about the signature-verification process. It was about overturning the domestic-partnership law, and that was a very real threat," said Jeana Frazzini, executive director of Basic Rights Oregon. "But I think there has been a real change to how people view fairness and equality." Read more about it in yesterday's Seattle Post-Intellegencer.
While opponents of equality could try and appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, or "or ask for a review by the full 9th Circuit," it seems with the November elections swiftly approaching that at least in Oregon equality will not have to be put to a popular vote.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Isis, 22, hails from our backyard, Prince George's County, Maryland - right outside of Washington. The local former receptionist will be featured on the CW's program starting September 3. Isis tells US Magazine, "I'm here to follow my dreams."
It's refreshing to see a member of the trans community represented in the model competition. I'll be watching to see Isis [pictured, left - photo courtesy of CW] and the other models next month. Earlier this year I got pulled into following Project Runway (which gay designer Christian Siriano won last season), so I'm looking forward to another reality show that embraces all walks of like on the catwalk.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Kathy Gilleran (pictured) is a mother on a mission: To find out the truth about what happened to her son.
Aeryn Gilleran, who was 34 at the time, disappeared in Vienna, in October 2007, while working for the United Nations International Development Organization (UNIDO). Alarmed by the news that her son was missing, Kathy traveled from her home in New York to Austria, in an attempt to work with police in the country, the U.S. State Department and other local and international agencies . . . in short, anyone who could help her find her son.
What Kathy found, instead, was a system that seemed more offended by Aeryn's sexual orientation than they were interested in helping to locate him.
"I spent six weeks [in Vienna], dealing with the Austrian police, who treated me not as a mother in shock and disbelief, but as a vile creature who had the audacity to ask them to help me find my gay son," Kathy wrote in an email to PFLAG. "According to the police, since my son was gay, it was obvious that he was emotionally unstable and, thus, must have committed suicide."
In fact, the callous response of local officials made it seem as if they were down-right refusing to take any serious, pro-active steps to find Kathy's son.
Continue reading Where's Aeryn? at HuffingtonPost.com . . .
Photo by Bob Ellis for The Cortland Standard.
The World AIDS Conference was by far, the largest event I have ever attended. It was incredibly moving to see thousands of people all gathered in one place, with a common goal, from such different backgrounds.
PFLAG worked in coalition with Family Acceptance Project, let by Caitlin Ryan (PhD social worker and researcher at the Cesar Chavez Institute and Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality) and Asociación Internacional De Familias Por La Diversidad Sexual, led by Irma Anhalt (Mexico City support group leader) and Luis Perelman (counselor and owner of the local progressive resource store El Armario Abierto). We met so many wonderful people involved in both these organizations and heard many moving stories of how families have played both positive and negative roles with in the lives of their loved ones with HIV/AIDS. I must express my deepest gratitude to everyone who made our networking zone possible.
The slogan for our coalition was “Family Acceptance and Support = Hope, Health and Well-Being.” We truly did we see how critical this slogan was throughout our involvement in the World AIDS Conference. In addition, we saw the truth of this slogan in attending the
John Cepek, Char Cepek, and I had the opportunity to host a smaller support group on Wednesday at the Networking Zone. People were moved to tears considering the importance of family in their lives and the impact families can have in both positive and negative ways. One mother named
Also on Wednesday, Caitlin Ryan presented her research findings about the impact of parental acceptance on risk behaviors in youth. Her study will be published next year. During her presentation she discussed the political responsibility of LGBT organizations. She shared that for such a long time, the term “family values” has been used by our political opponents as a reason to work against the movement. We need to reclaim the term “family values” as crucial part of our movement. Family acceptance plays such a critical role in the work that we do at PFLAG and other organizations that model the PFLAG support group globally.
PFLAGers Nila Marrone and Carmen Robello, leaders of the PFLAG chapter of
Participating in the World AIDS Conference allowed those of us involved to be mindful, more than ever, of just how important all three of our mission areas--support, education, and advocacy--are to the success of building chapters and relationships with people who are new to PFLAG. We discussed our newest educational program, Straight for Equality, in interactions with so many progressive people who have the potential to be fabulous straight allies. Also, with such a large transgender audience, we were able to talk about PFLAG’s advocacy historically and today alongside the transgender community. As we were one of the few U.S. LGBT organizations in participation at the conference, many attendees expressed their appreciation for PFLAG’s involvement. People from all corners of the globe saw that PFLAGers do more than sit in a support circle. We leave our support circles to impact the world in very real ways.
And, of course, there was the Zapata family. They were easy to spot in white T-shirts with Angie's photograph on it - her angel eyes buring brightly as though she was still with them. She had several young nieces and nephews who played, oblivious to the reason that we were all there together. She had immediate and extended family, and a group of friends. And her sister and mother were there. All were amazing.
The family gathered on the stage and Angie's sister read a statement and a poem. Many of us cried right along with them as they finished. Speaker after speaker spoke of the need to overcome hate, of the need to speak out against the dehumanizing efforts that lead to these kinds of tragedies. One speaker reminded the group, "Angie wasn't murdered because she was transgender. She was murdered because of someone else's transgender biases and discomforts."