Two episodes within less than a month’s time! It’s like some government shutdown miracle! This week’s episode is dedicated to talking about that “religious liberty” concept conservatives are always throwing around. What do they mean when they say it and how are they trying to use it do keep discriminating against LGBT people? Does a […]
Peterson has wronged Zack; can Zack forgive him? In this fairly sober episode, Zack and Peterson dig into the idea of reconciliation and building bridges between the queer community and those who oppose it. What does it look like to build a bridge between conflicting groups? What kind of sacrifices and compromises need to be […]
Two episodes in one week! Well, kind of. Not for us. But we’re back, and this week we dive head first into the Anthony Weiner “scandal.” So he showed some PG-13 pics on Twitter, but what did he actually do wrong? Listen as Peterson and Zack consider the matter from a perspective of sexual liberation. […]
The Friday Fundamentalist Farce File is a week’s worth of “news” clippings from conservative hubs like WorldNetDaily and the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow. Millions of Americans absorb these messages as gospel truth—literally—on a daily basis.
Peterson has wronged Zack; can Zack forgive him? In this fairly sober episode, Zack and Peterson dig into the idea of reconciliation and building bridges between the queer community and those who oppose it. What does it look like to build a bridge between conflicting groups? What kind of sacrifices and compromises need to be made to build it and by whom? There are those who seek to develop a bond of understanding between the groups, but what factors ensure the success of that effort? Once you listen, please feel free to leave your thoughts as a comment or email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Two episodes in one week! Well, kind of. Not for us. But we’re back, and this week we dive head first into the Anthony Weiner “scandal.” So he showed some PG-13 pics on Twitter, but what did he actually do wrong? Listen as Peterson and Zack consider the matter from a perspective of sexual liberation. And then, we offer some tips on giving great workshops at conferences, with a brief lesson on Howard Gardner’s (not John Gardner’s) multiple intelligences. Peterson has lots of background sounds and Zack sounds like he’s in a submarine and getting everyone’s name wrong (sorry, Sen. Kyl — kind of), but the discussion will be so captivating you won’t even notice!
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is not expected to pass the current House of Representatives, but proponents hope to use the bill as an educational tool about workplace discrimination against the LGBT community. A story unraveling at Southeastern Oklahoma State University demonstrates how higher education is one of many fields vulnerable to discrimination against people who are gay and trans.
Dr. Rachel Tudor, a professor of English, Humanities, and Philosophy at SOSU has been denied tenure despite ample support from her colleagues, immediate supervisors, a Faculty Senate resolution with no opposition, and two Faculty Appeals Committee rulings in her favor. No explanation was given for the rejection, and she was blocked from reapplying (as many professors successfully do), again without explanation. At this point, Tudor has exhausted every forum to rectify her situation and her contract with the university will be terminated as of May 31 “without cause.”
All the evidence suggests that Dr. Tudor has been discriminated against for being transgender, primarily by Dr. Douglas McMillan, SOSU’s Vice President for Academic Affairs. When Tudor first transitioned, McMillan request she be terminated because her identity “offends his Baptist beliefs.” Though he could not have her fired, he was successful at requiring she only be allowed to use a single-stall restroom on a different floor from her office. In addition, the dean who oversees Tudor’s department, Dr. Lucretia Scoufos, regularly disrespected Tudor by referring to her with male pronouns. These two individuals had sole authority over the original tenure decision and McMillan was also who blocked her from reapplying.
Despite the way it seems her administrators went out of their way to block her continued employment, Tudor appreciates how others have stood up for her:
I’m completely overwhelmed and gratified so many people have taken initiative and shown their support. It’s amazing to see that people have such integrity.
According to a recent study, nearly half (47 percent) of transgender people have been fired, not hired, or denied promotion for their identity. Oklahoma has no state-level discrimination protections for gender identity, and without a federal ENDA, there is nothing to protect talented, successful employees like Tudor from being terminated without cause. Still, Tudor has taken her case to the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission, the US Department of Education, and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in hopes of intervention. You can support her by signing a petition for her reinstatement.
The retort is: “Yeah, well maybe I’m afraid of being seen as a Target shopper.”
Believe it or not, the American Family Association is (I think—who can tell?) still boycotting Pepsi and Home Depot, and probably a few other companies who have done anything pro-LGBT. I guess that demonstrates that the AFA is all bark, no bite.
But part of the power of a boycott is its visibility. It’s not always just enough to not shop at a certain store or not buy a certain product. For example, I don’t buy peanut butter or eat at Long John Silver’s, but not because I’m boycotting either.
I actually have been boycotting Target, though. And I’ll be honest, I haven’t been the best at it. Sure, I’ve not purchased anything at Target in a good 10 months, but I haven’t been vocal about it, and I certainly haven’t stood in front of Target protesting or written letters to the editor or done any of the things effective boycotters should do. For me, it’s just been a matter of personal principle.
There are a lot of folks in the LGBT community who shrug their shoulders at boycotting Target, and I can appreciate their reluctance. I used to think Target (tar-zhay) was the gay store. It was the anti-Wal-Mart and anybody who was anybody had one of those chic medusa lamps in their dorm room. And Target has long been lauded by HRC as being pro-LGBT. Target’s donations last summer challenged that image, and just because we can understand why Target would support a pro-business PAC doesn’t forgive them for supporting an anti-gay PAC, nor for continuing to support anti-gay candidates since that debacle. Lady Gaga’s calling off of her deal with Target should’ve suggested we haven’t seen the last of the store’s anti-gay antics.
The same goes with Chick-Fil-A. A lot of people really like Chick-Fil-A and don’t want to stop enjoying their tasty chicken. I am fortunate, I suppose, that thanks to geography I’ve never really had Chick-Fil-A. (Ironically, the one time I’ve ever had it was on the campus of a university who ended up not hiring me as a social justice educator because they weren’t “ready” for someone so outspoken about LGBT issues; unsurprisingly, that campus has not had much debate about the presence of a Chick-Fil-A in its campus center.) But plenty of folks will continue to eat there, regardless of how anti-LGBT the company might be. After all, it’s just chicken, right?
In the case of Target, we learned this week of their lawsuit against Canvass for a Cause, and as I wrote about over on The Wonk Room, they seem to be targeting this group exclusively because of its support of same-sex marriage. While the complaint speaks of CFAC’s harassment of customers, the trial saw no first-hand testimony confirming these allegations. But Target’s own filed complaint (PDF), corroborated by its employee’s testimony, confirms that Target is concerned customers will “never shop at Target again,” “ensure their friends and family do not shop at Target,” and “return everything they bought at Target” because they “believe Target promotes the same sensitive political message” as CFAC.
And while CFAC promotes a number of issues, that particular “sensitive” message is support of gay marriage marriage equality; it’s the only issue mentioned in the whole case from the documents I’ve seen, and they mention it a lot. Daniel Brown, the employee who provides the only testimony hearsay (PDF) about the complaints, said that some customers were “offended” and that “many mothers with children have complained about the sensitive nature” of the messaging.
For decades, the LGBT community has been fighting the meme that queer people are dangerous to children—that we’re going to molest them, recruit them, and teach them all about anal sex while they’re in Kindergarten. And here is a supposed “friend” using that same old stereotype to defend itself in a gratuitous lawsuit against a grassroots group being defended by a volunteer lawyer.
Target doesn’t want to be known as supporting marriage equality because gays are dangerous to children. That’s the takeaway. It’s in the public record.
So the decision comes back to the LGBT community. Do we still patronize these companies—companies that actively demonize us and work against our equality? While my personal answer will continue to be No, I think the larger community needs to have a serious conversation about it.
If the recent poll on marriage equality tells us anything, it’s that we have more allies than ever. If we really wanted to mobilize a huge block of people to support us, I’m betting that we could. The problem, I think, is that we’re too comfortable. We like shopping at Target and eating at Chick-Fil-A and we don’t see their actions as that big of a deal—at least not big enough to change our habits. We want equality, but it almost seems as if many of us would rather wait than make any sacrificial efforts in the meantime.
Maybe AFA is the lesson for us. Maybe boycotts don’t work in 2011, or don’t catch on, or aren’t worth it. Maybe bad press is enough to get the job done, along with a certain quota of negative tweets. Or maybe we’re desensitized to our inequality; we’re willing to tolerate it, such that it takes something as big and visible as Prop 8 or DADT to really get us off our asses.
But gosh, I’d love to see us try. I’d love to see pickets in front of Targets and Chick-Fil-As (Chicks-Fil-A?). I’d love to see all the big orgs really visibly condemning the corporations and every single blogger actively promoting the boycott. I don’t think we’ve tried it on the national stage, at least not anytime recently. And certainly we saw a lot of success—or at least visibility—from the boycotts of Prop 8 supporters like the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego. So the only thing stopping us is ourselves.
At the end of it all, when we finally get all the equality we deserve in this country, I hope we don’t look back and say, “We could’ve gotten it a lot sooner if we’d just acted more like we wanted it.”
I’m the one who caused the earthquake in Japan. All the radiation from the nuclear power plant explosions and possible meltdowns? That’ll be my fault too.
I’m very, very evil. All we atheists are. I’m going to go be evil right now… by taking a shower. That’s right: an atheist cleansing in water. And that water is going to go back out into the world, and anyone who comes in contact with it is going to absorb my atheism and be tainted by my evil. (And thanks to homeopathy, the more my atheist cooties get diluted, the more potent they’ll become.)
You know what, tamtampamela? Keep on praying. In fact, spend every waking hour just cloistered away in prayer. I think the more time you spend praying and not communicating with any real people or having any real interaction the world, the better off we’ll all be. And you just keep on being joyful about people dying by God’s wrath like a good Christian should be.
It is SO weird to think that 26 months ago I started this blog just as a hobby, a little place to synthesize some things that were on my mind and hopefully create some discussion. I never really thought it would become a prominent part of my life and identity, and it seems that now it is very much the defining aspect of who I am.
I spent this weekend in San Francisco communing with 40+ other LGBT bloggers and publishers, as you can see in the photo above. As I felt at Netroots Nation last year, I still had moments where I looked around and still couldn’t believe where I was and with whom I was working. I hope this doesn’t come off as false modesty, but there’s still something crazy about seeing your tweets be retweeted by bloggers that you have always looked to as role models or by mainstream LGBT publishers. I’m still not sure how I got here.
Add to that the fact that after I return east from San Francisco tonight, I will be packing up to move to DC this week to start my full-time job as an LGBT blogger. It’s now going to be my occupation—my primary purpose in life—what I stake my reputation on. It just blows my mind.
And I guess what I want to say is… Go for it. I’m not where I am because there’s anything special about me. I’m not being handed anything on a silver platter. While I’ve certainly been mentored, I don’t think I’ve gotten any special advantages as a result of connections that I’ve made. I just committed myself to my writing and to making the difference I want to make.
Commitment, passion, integrity. That’s what it takes.
The unfortunate truth is that there are a lot of folks out there who think it’s all about just drawing attention to themselves. They provoke just to provoke and complain just to complain. They don’t write their blogs or tweet their tweets for anybody but themselves. They think if they can cause a stink that they mean something and that they’re worth listening to.
The power of the blogosphere is the passion of individuals to communicate ideas for the benefit of others. We can work together to amplify important messages (like the topics of youth suicide we discussed this weekend in San Francisco) to affect the ideas discussed by society when the mainstream media doesn’t. We can challenge each other and engage with each other, but we also trust and respect each other because we have common goals. None of us live luxuriously off our efforts; it is the difference we can make that propels us.
This weekend, as many of us were connecting and sharing important knowledge with each other, some antagonists posing as “gay activists” tried to interrupt our efforts. Motivated only by their own egos, they attempted to hijack our twitter stream and paint us as a group of uber-privileged brats who want for nothing and are secretly out to destroy the LGBT movement. They attacked us, insulted us, smeared us, bullied us, and victimized themselves despite clearly having no understanding of who many of us are, what we write about, or what the purpose of this meet-up was. They also wanted it to sound like this was some secret exclusive meeting, despite the fact we livetweeted the entire event. It couldn’t have been more transparent.
These individuals have no credibility as advocates, activists, or even as writers, but they feel because they have a platform on the internet that their point of view is valid. It is clear when the only effective way to engage with such individuals is to ignore them that they do not have substantive or meaningful contributions to make towards our supposedly common goals.
It is this selfishly motivated approach to blogging that gets folks nowhere. They do not get respect; their ideas do not get traction. They are not worth a single retort because the attention of such a retort is all they care about.
The blogosphere is a community, and the more that we can work together, the better. To those whose approach is to attack, belittle, and (self-)ostracize, there is no reason to invite them to further engage. It is those who aspire to educate and inform and create a more inclusive society who must be highlighted and promoted.
I continue to be honored that I have been welcomed and promoted in this way in the blogosphere. I admire the brilliant minds that I now get to interact with on a daily basis and look forward to all the opportunities yet ahead to work with them to make society a better place for LGBT people. And to all our detractors; keep trying. I’d rather you waste your time as our petulant trolls than bother other people with your nonsense.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of writing a public blog is hearing people’s reactions, especially the negative ones. Honestly, I look forward to opportunities to learn from people who disagree, but I also look forward to responding to the people whose arguments simply do not stand up. Most importantly, those who evangelize here (like Shelonda) help demonstrate the ineffectiveness of religious language. If they are willing to make their remarks public, I’m willing to respond to them.
[The Friday Fundamentalist Farce File is a week’s worth of “news” clippings from conservative hubs like WorldNetDaily and the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow. Millions of Americans absorb these messages as gospel truth—literally—on a daily basis.]