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Archive for January, 2010

Fear, Freedom and Shaving your Head

January 06, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

Recently, I stumbled upon an article online which captured my attention.  It was a first person account of a heterosexual woman who decided to shave her head.  While the account was from the mid-1990’s, it expressed something that rings true even today:

For the first few weeks after I shaved my head, I walked around very nervously, convinced that people were going to jump out of alleys and beat me up for being a lesbian.

Because I am straight and have a lot of straight friends who I am certain are totally disinterested in hurting my large number of gay friends, I knew that not all straight people hate all gay people. That didn’t matter. I was still nervous.

In some ways, the post reminded me of the conversation I had with Jane Wishon, a straight alley working hard in California to overturn Proposition 8.  But I also noted that the author, Kaitlin (aka Ducky), expressed fear that being perceived to be a lesbian would result in physical harm to her.

This got me to thinking about how successful those in the heterosexual community that devote their lives to tormenting LGBT people have been at promoting terror.  (This isn’t the first time I’ve implied – or even outright stated – that organizations such as the National Organization for [Heterosexual Only] Marriage and the American [Heterosexual Only] Family Association are terrorist groups; however, Kaitlin’s story reinforces my opinion.)

These organizations may think they are simply keeping marriage contracts from being entered into by same-sex couples, but through their lies to defend marriage from a same-sex takeover, they are propagating the idea that it’s ok to harm LGBT people.  The result is fear within our community, like that felt by Kaitlin.

Kaitlin was lucky as she didn’t experience any violence against her person.  Unfortunately, not all LGBT people (or those perceived to be LGBT) are as lucky as Kaitlin.  According to the 2008 FBI Hate crimes Statistics, there were 1673 victims of a bias based crime due to their status as LGBT – over four victims per day.  [For clarification, the term victim can include businesses/organizations as well as persons.  The calculations also exclude the 33 incidents of purported bias crimes based on heterosexual status (roughly 1 per every 10 days)].

But fear only has the power that we give it – and boy do we ever give it power.  As examples, Christopher and I rarely, if ever, hold hands in public; many of my friends speak in gender neutral terms about their spouses or boyfriends/girlfriends when among strangers; a heterosexual ally was convinced to remove the equality stickers by a fellow queer because he was afraid she would get hurt or her car would be broken into as she lives and works in a very small, rural, conservative town.

Until we can truly conquer that fear, we will not obtain equality or freedom – we will remain, marriage equality or not, victims of the majority tyranny.  I for one am tired of being a victim.  How about you?

Justices Seek Public Comments Regarding Televising Proposition 8 Case

January 05, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker is seeking public commentary regarding televising the Perry, et al. v. Schwarzenegger, et al. Proposition 8 trial (more commonly Oles/Boies).  A hearing will be held on January 6, 2010 to decide whether or not the Court will allow television cameras to broadcast the trial to the public.  I encourage you to share your comments with the Court.  You may mail your comments to:

Hon. Phyllis Hamilton
Chair of the Rules Committee
United States Courthouse
1301 Clay Street
Oakland, CA 94612

and

Hon. Vaughn Walker
Chief Judge
United States Courthouse
450 Golden Gate Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102

****UPDATE****

Courage Campaign is now offering an online form for submission to the Court.  Please take a moment, at minimum, to complete the form.

Below is the text of the letter I have sent to help you in drafting your own.  Feel free to use it in whole or in part:

RE:     Televising Cause No. 3:09-CV-02292-VRW Perry, et al. v. Schwarzenegger, et al.; in the United States District Court, Northern District of California.

Dear Hon. Walker:

It is my understanding that the Court has requested public commentary with respect to webcasting and/or televising the January 11, 2010 trial in the above referenced cause.  Thank you for allowing the public, who have much to learn and lose from this case, to weigh in with respect to televising the proceedings.

As you know, last month the 9th Circuit joined the 2nd Circuit.  In responding to criticism, 9th Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski stated, “The experiment is designed to help us find the right balance between the public’s right to access to the courts and the parties’ right to a fair and dignified proceeding.”  He further explained that allowing broadcasting of the proceedings would enhance confidence in the rule of law.

In Perry, there is a compelling public interest in the outcome as same-sex families throughout California and the United States lives hang by Lady Justice’s scales.  While the case may not be a prosecution of an individual, it is a prosecution of a people and we have the right, at minimum to hear the allegations of our prosecutors against our families.  This public interest cannot be ignored in deciding whether or not to broadcast the proceedings.

Very truly yours,

Jay Morris

Better Death than Gays Donating Blood.

January 05, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

This past April my very dear friend, Crystal, fell gravely ill.  I received a dreaded phone call and rushed to the hospital.  Crystal was unconscious and on a respirator when I arrived at the hospital 20 minutes later.  Over the next few days, she received several pints of blood.  I became a bit concerned as we hear so much about shortages in the blood supply and the question crossed my mind that, should I be a match, could I donate blood to save my dear friend’s life?

In 1985, largely as a result of the AIDS scare, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned any man who has had sex with another man (since 1977) from giving blood.  I wondered, ignorantly, if that ban applied to those wishing to donate blood to save a loved one.

The U.S. isn’t the only country to have a lifetime ban on blood donations by men who have had sex with other men.  The same provision exists in England and Wales.  Factors such as monogamy or proper use of protection, are not considered, merely a man who has had sex with a man… ever.

Sweden recently lifted its lifetime ban and announced a 12-month ban would instead be implemented for anyone having “risky” sex (including gay sex).

From our friends across the pond came the answer to my lingering question.  Because I have had sex with a man at least once in the past 32 years, I would not be able to donate blood even on behalf of a dear friend.

This lesson comes after a son was prevented from donating blood to his mother because, sometime in the past 32 years, he had sex with another man.  Dij Bentley’s mother Christine, was 47 years old when she developed an infection requiring a blood transfusion.  The doctors asked members of her family to donate blood and determine if they are a match.  When he attempted to give blood, he was told by a nurse that he could not.  10 days after developing the infection, Christine died.

In Crystal’s case, no one present was asked to donate blood for her transfusions, presumably because there was an ample supply.  However, since her death, the subject of blood donation has come up among her friends.  Some have suggested we all donate blood as a way of honoring those who donated to help try to save her life.

When the suggestion came up, I quickly responded that I cannot donate blood and explained the regulation.  My friend, always trying to look at ways to do good suggested that I simply lie about the fact that I have had sex with another man.  At this point, thoughts raced through my mind – should I lie about it in order to help another person, or should I remain true to who I am and never deny an integral part of my existence? I am a gay man.  The thoughts quickly landed on being true to myself because without truth, we only have that fear that leads to regulations barring gay men from donating blood, the hatred that leads to criminalization of homosexuality and prosecution by death, and the lies which result in denial of marriage equality.

Malawi Condones Gay Rights Group then Arrests Gay Couple

January 04, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, Featured, LGBT News

Malawi recently made news when its President, Bingu wa Mutharika, condoned the establishment of a gay rights organization.  This green light was particularly remarkable in the South African country because homosexuality is illegal there.  Those convicted of homosexuality can be sentenced up to 14 years hard labor.

Now, Malawi is making gay news again, only this time because magistrate, Nyakwawa Usiwausiwa, refused bail to two men, Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza, charged with public indecency after holding a marriage ceremony.  The rationale for the refusal of bail used by Usiwausiwa is that it is unsafe to allow the couple out of prison because people are angry with them.  However, in a recent interview, the men advised that they have already been beaten in prison.  So much for the magistrate’s worry over the safety of the men.

The couple is the first of its kind [gay] to marry in the country; however, such marriages are not legally recognized in Malawi.  Of course, public indecency is a different charge than homosexuality; therefore, the government must gather more evidence against the men before they can be charged with homosexuality (more specifically, with having gay sex).  How does a government gather evidence to convict the men?  Simple, they send them for medical exams to determine whether or not intercourse has occurred.

NOTE: Tiwonge Chimbalanga is a 20 year old biological male who dresses as a woman.  It is unknown whether Chimbalanga identifies as male or female.

For the New Year – Love Takes Over.

January 01, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Community Outreach, Featured, LGBT Action Alerts

Love Takes Over - News PapersWe’ve written a lot of letters, most of which have been to our elected officials and representatives.  While those letters have made a difference, we have to ask ourselves, “How do we reach the people?”

Our friend from the Nationwide Chalk Message Project, Jen Dugan, came up with a fantastic idea a couple of months ago to do just that.  Love Takes Over asks that supporters of marriage equality take over America’s local newspapers and get people talking about marriage equality across the entire country.  To do so, simply write an editorial to your local newspaper explaining why marriage equality matters.

Since that time, Jen, along with the fantastic, Hugh Yemen, have been working hard at getting the message out.  Here’s the press release:

NEW YORK – Love Takes Over is a nationwide initiative calling on citizens to write to their local newspapers about marriage equality during the week of January 3rd-January 9th. Love Takes Over seeks to promote and foster dialogue about marriage equality on a local level.

The idea behind Love Takes Over is simple: One week. One unified voice. Everyone take over America’s local newspapers and get people talking about marriage equality across the entire country at the same time.

Love Takes Over encourages American citizens to open up dialogue on a variety of issues pertaining to marriage equality. These issues include why civil marriage is a civil rights issue, why Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships are not equal to marriage, how inequality affects the families and children of same-sex couples, and why the issue of marriage equality is personally important to the author of each article.

“We believe in the power of small,” say the activists behind Love Takes Over, “We believe that the small steps people take everyday to educate their families, friends, and local communities are a vital part of any social justice movement.”

Articles are to be published during the week of January 3rd-January 9th. College students on Winter Break are encouraged to write to their hometown newspapers and submit a piece to their campus newspaper at the start of the new semester.

To speak with the activists behind Love Takes Over, please contact Jen Dugan at (201) 247-6419 or email ltonewspapers@gmail.com. More information can also be found at Love Takes Over’s official project blog: lovetakesover.tumblr.com.

Thus, beginning tomorrow, we must start submitting our editorials to our local papers.  To help inspire you, jaysays.com is asking that you submit your editorial to this site.  Submissions will be reviewed and the best editorial will be selected for publication here.  The winner will receive a copy of Will and Grace Season 3 on DVD.  To enter, simply fill out the below form:

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