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Archive for the ‘Community Outreach’

National Equality March Song Competition Finalists: Vote Now!

September 24, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Community Outreach, Featured, LGBT Action Alerts

NEmThe National Equality March is fast approaching.  Organizers launched the National Equality March Song Contest weeks ago and four finalists have been chosen and I must say the finalists are as diverse as our community.  In them you’ll here the influence of show tunes, blues, jazz and new age.

Here’s your chance to vote for your favorite. Voting will end at 5:00 p.m. PST on October 1, 2009.  You may vote via YouTube or Facebook simply by rating the song on YouTube or giving it a thumbs up/thumbs down on Facebook.

Congratulations to all finalists.  Great songs!

“Stand for Love” by Toby Madigan:

“Courage of Our Convictions” by Julie Cox:

“Equality” by Todd Fernandez:

“Our Time Has Come” by Sean Chapin:

Closet Talk: Nathan and Johnnie Discuss the Atlanta Eagle Bar Raid

September 24, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Closet Talk, Community Outreach, Featured

Closet TalkIn a scene reminiscent of this summers bar raid in Ft. Worth, Texas, on September 10, 2009, police raided the Eagle in Atlanta after an anonymous complaint from a neighboring residential building claimed the bar was promoting public sex and drug use. Police entered the bar and made patrons lay on the floor, some for over an hour, while they illegally searched their pockets and refused to state why they were detaining the bar goers. Since the raid, many rumors have found their way into the conservative and liberal blogosphere.

Witnesses Nicholas and Johnnie joined me on Closet Talk to discuss the raid, the reaction and what was said.  Johnnie confirmed perhaps one of the most terrible comments overheard by police which I had hoped was a sick rumor: “… this is more fun than raiding niggers on crack.”

One officer was overheard saying, “I hate gay people” while stepping over the crowd that was forced to lie on the floor while being illegally searched.

Other derogatory comments were made by police as well.  Find out from those attending what happened that night:

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Join In and Spread the <3 | 1st Annual Nationwide You-Are-Loved Chalk Message Project

September 22, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Community Outreach, Featured, LGBT Action Alerts

youarelovedStarting at noon on October 5th and ending one week later on October 12th, students at colleges and high schools across the country will write messages of love and equality on sidewalks using chalk. The timing is meant to coincide with Coming Out Day, which is October 11th.The students at Drew University started a tradition of writing messages of equality and love to LGBT individuals. Jen Dugan has taken on spreading this tradition to other schools, creating the 1st Annual Nationwide You-Are-Loved Chalk Message Project.

For those of you unfamiliar with chalk messages, they are a time honored tradition at many schools. Chalk messages were written on sidewalks to protest the Vietnam war, to announce campus events and to make relevant, political statements for at least 40 years now.  It’s good to know that something as simple as a piece of chalk and a sidewalk can send a message.

Please encourage your school’s Gay Straight Alliance, LGBT Union or other student groups to participate.  You can find information on how to participate in this project at the end of this blog. We would like to share with you the following message from The Chalk Message Project”

Members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer (GLBTQ) community are far too often the subject of hateful rhetoric. From slurs to jokes to anti-gay sermons spewed around the country – society often tries to tell us that GLBTQ individuals are evil or strange.

Despite the incredible strides being made with equality – GLBTQ individuals are still often made to feel isolated and alone. Anywhere from 25-50% of GLBTQ youth are initially rejected by their families. An estimated 60% of GLBTQ youth feel unsafe in American schools due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. GLBTQ youth are still four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.

It’s time to combat the influence of hateful rhetoric that seeks to isolate members of the GLBTQ community. It’s time to remind our community members that they are never alone.

During the 2005-2006 academic year, students at Drew University began penning inspirational messages in sidewalk chalk that read, “You are loved,” “You are wonderful,” and “You are beautiful.”

These chalk messages quickly became a familiar quirk around Drew’s campus – popping up every Coming Out Week and Day of Silence to remind members of the GLBTQ community that they are loved – and that their love is appreciated.

In April of 2009, a member of Montclair State University’s Spectrums approached one of the original authors of the chalk messages. She asked her if the initiative could be made statewide.

Why stop at statewide?

This year, we are asking colleges and high schools everywhere to participate in the chalk message project.

All that is required is a simple piece of sidewalk chalk – and a couple of your own inspirational, positive quotes. Write these quotes all over the grounds of your campus – for everyone to see.

We also highly encourage schools participating to write an opinions piece to your school newspaper explaining the meaning behind the project. Let’s educate society on the need for loving dialogue rather than divisive hate speech.

What: 1st Annual Nationwide You-Are-Loved Chalk Message Project
When: Monday October 5th, 2009
Where: College campuses and high schools everywhere
This project will continue to occur annually at the beginning of Coming Out Week

For more information, please email Jen at chalkmessages@gmail.com or at the group’s website http://dreamsuntitled.tumblr.com/

Please send us an email if your school plans to participate!!!!!!

Note: Some campuses have rules against using sidewalk chalk. If your school would like to participate but is encountering red tape, please send us an email. We will contact your school and explain to them that this is not graffiti. This is part of an equality project.

~*Help us spread the word. Invite all your friends*~ Click here to  join the Facebook group

Please share the message and invite your friends to their Facebook group.  Also, we’d love to see photos after the event, so be sure to upload them and send us a link!

On September 30, 2009, Jen Dugan will be the guest on Closet Talk at 8 pm central time.  Please join us and learn more about Jen and the 1st Annual Nationwide You-Are-Loved Chalk Message Project.

Maine No On 1 Campaign: You Can Help From Home – No Credit Card Required

September 22, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Community Outreach, Headline, LGBT Action Alerts

noon1Perhaps the most annoying thing about helping protect marriage equality has been the state by state battles.  The LGBT community at large has human resources available, but many of us can’t just get on a plane and fly to Washington, Maine or California to help our brothers and sisters.

Protect Maine Equality has come up with a wonderful way for all LGBT people in the U.S. – and I suppose even abroad, to help fight against those that oppose full civil equality – virtual phone bank!

It’s only going to take a few hours of your time, it won’t cost you any money and you have a chance to have your voice heard – so get on the phone and help spread the love in Maine.

Supporters of equality are asked to donate 2.5 hours of our time to call voters in Maine on Sunday, September 27.   All that’s required is that you have a phone and a computer with internet – you won’t even have to pay those pesky long distance fees!!!

Sign up now my friends.  Together, we can protect ALL families in Maine.

Closet Talk: David’s Story – Being Gay and Staying Mormon.

September 17, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Closet Talk, Community Outreach, Featured

Closet TalkDavid is a 20 year old blogger and vlogger who has decided not to flee the Mormon church, but instead work to inspire change within his faith. I’ve used a lot of analogies to describe David, such as “David and Goliath” or a “Rosa Parks” figure refusing to give up his seat on the metaphoric bus. But when you pull away all the grandeur that I’ve bestowed upon him, you’re still left with a remarkable young man. In this episode, we discussed David’s life growing up in the Mormon church, his coming out while a member of the Mormon church and his quest to remain in the Mormon church.

We also had a chance to discuss how the attacks by LGBT people on the Mormon church have affected him and his opinions on those attacks.  In an interesting irony illustrating the dichotomy of Homo/Mormonism, David tells us about a gay Mormon friend, who after witnessing the anger and hostility directed toward the Mormon faith, decided to become “ex-gay.”  It was a sad reminder that we forget our community knows no boundaries.

The show is a must hear for everyone, especially those struggling with sexual orientation and faith.  Just click play, below:

Gay & Lesbian Mormons to Hold Conference in Salt Lake City: Affirmation Conference 2009

September 16, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Community Outreach, Featured, Religion

affirmation“The View From Here” conference, hosted by Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons, is being held September 18 – 20, 2009 in Salt Lake City.  That’s this weekend for my Utah friends that haven’t registered.

Some of the speakers and the lineup at the conference include:

According to their website:

Thirty years ago, the four chapters of Affirmation: Gay Mormons United, Matt Price’s vision brought to reality two years earlier, met to form a new organization, international in scope, to be called Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons. Matt’s vision is clearly visible in the view from here, as is that of the Father of Affirmation, Paul Mortensen. Affirmation Conference 2009.

Pre-registration has expired, so to register as a walk-in, please email david@affirmation2009.com to let them know you’re coming.  Registration fees are modest considering the wealth of information available.

If you’ve ever doubted the need for faith reconciliation, even within the LDS Church, I hope you will join me tonight on Closet Talk when I speak with David Baker, a gay man who has decided to stay in the Mormon faith.

Closet Talk: Candace Metzler and ENDA

September 10, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Closet Talk, Community Outreach, Featured

Closet TalkCandice Metzler lost her job after beginning her transition from man to woman. Her employer was initially fine with the transition, but after clients began taking their business elsewhere after learning of Candice’s transition, the struggling company felt it had no choice but to let Candice go.

Unemployment didn’t take long to scar Candice’s life, leaving her homeless and forcing her to rely on the friends that remained in her life after her coming out.

Candice tells her story in this episode of Closet Talk and explains how employment discrimination impacted her and her family. Although her story is full of tragedy, it is a story is of hope and determination.

Recently, Candice organized a community forum on workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender employees. and continues to work toward the passage of an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

Listening Live to a Legendary Gay Activist: Cleve Jones

September 02, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Community Outreach, Featured, LGBT Action Alerts

NEmWhen he took the stage, I expected him to immediately dive into a persuasive case for his cause. Instead, the audience was treated to stories from the life of a man who has become a legend in the LGBT activist movement. His opening line was “For those of you who expected Emile Hirsch, I am sorry to disappoint you. But I just want to say, I really was that hot.”

Clearly, I am talking about Cleve Jones. Friend of Harvey Milk, creator of the AIDS Memorial Quilt and currently an organizer for the National Equality March planned for October 11th in Washington, D.C.

For the next almost two hours, Cleve told us stories from his life, weaving them together in a way that helped us to understand the man before us. Funny stories, painful stories, hopeful stories, strong stories.

He talked about being in high school and the day he pretended to be sick so he could skip gym class. He was in the library, reading Life magazine, and came across an article that said “Homosexual Revolt: The Gay Liberation Movement.” He quickly closed the cover and glanced around to see if anyone had noticed him reading the article.

And then he stole the magazine and put it under his mattress at home. He would take it out after he was certain his parents were asleep, “as if it were porn.”  At the end of high school, he came out to his parents and his father, a clinical psychologist, did not react well. Cleve hitchhiked to San Francisco, lived on the streets and met Harvey Milk. Harvey was like a father to him and encouraged him to go to school. When Cleve went to work with Harvey, as an intern, Harvey told him to wear the tightest jeans possible when he came to City Hall. To be himself. Cleve said his jeans were so tight he was pretty sure that everyone could tell that he was circumcised.

Talk about warming up an audience. Then he talked about Harvey. Finding Harvey’s body. Harvey’s feet were sticking out of Dan White’s office. He knew it was Harvey because Harvey had only one pair of dress shoes. Wing tips, with holes in the soles. Cleve felt that everything in the gay movement was over. That it could not possibly go on without Harvey.

But it did. Thousands marched in silence with candles that evening to mourn the loss of Harvey Milk, a ritual that still occurs every year on the evening of Harvey’s death.

He spoke about AIDS and how no one would do anything about this illness because it was a “homosexual disease”. He remembered a bumper sticker at the time that said “AIDS: It’s killing all the right people.” The audience was so silent that you could hear a pin drop. Cleve could barely speak and fought back tears. I’m sure he has told his story many times but the pain never disappears. I know because my best friend from high school was a gay man who had AIDS.

When he started the AIDS Memorial Quilt, it was with fabric stolen from a theatre group and a can of spray paint from a protest march. That was used to make the first square.

Cleve told so many fascinating stories, that it is tempting to convey all of them.  But I want to get to the part where Cleve talked about this march, including his comments on the controversy surrounding it. Here is the logic. The fight for LGBT rights has gone on for at least 40 years. People being patient, people being afraid, people asking nicely. After Prop 8 passed, after the movie Milk, after the achievements in the states that have legalized same-sex marriage, it is still all up for grabs. There will be challenges in Maine and Iowa. People are arguing about whether California should put a referendum on the ballot in 2010 or 2012. And where will we be? Continuously taking this fight to states, counties and cities? Fighting for one right at a time in one small place? It will never end until the laws are the same in every state.

We have a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress. What is missing are people demanding that Congress do something. Without this pressure, President Obama cannot get the votes needed. Cleve made the point that the Civil Rights movement took off when Martin Luther King organized a march in Washington.  Instead of continually pouring money and energy into every local battle, it is time to demand full equality now. It is only when Federal Law’s are changed that LGBT individuals will have full rights. Cleve made the point that marriage in California isn’t any different than the domestic partnerships in California. Neither state marriage nor domestic partnerships provide any access to Federal rights such as social security for your spouse.

In Cleve’s words “If you think you are equal, act like it. You have to take risks. When a door cracks open, kick it open. If you think there’s a natural slow progression to winning, you are wrong.  Only when large numbers of people demand everything immediately is there any hope of getting anything eventually.”

Whether or not you can attend the March in Washington, I believe that Cleve’s strategy is the right one. Forget fighting for rights within a city or state. It needs to become national law. Cleve asked who in the audience was 54, his age. I think I was the only one who raised their hand. He pointed to me, nodded, and then said “I am tired of waiting. We demand equality now.”

During the question and answer session, which lasted half an hour, one person asked how to persuade others. His response reflected his maturity. “Respectfully and honestly tell your story. This is NOT about sex. It’s about economics and all the legal benefits of marriage and family. Tell someone that your partner cannot get your social security if something happens to you. Tell that person that you cannot visit your partner in the hospital. Search for common ground. People of faith are not necessarily like their leaders.  “There’s no one sentence or I’d be putting it up on every billboard.”

He ended the evening by saying that Harvey Milk was an ordinary man. His personal life was in disarray, he was not a genius. We are all capable of what he did. “Live a life interesting enough to have a film made about you.”

If you don’t speak up for your rights, who will? If you don’t speak up for the rights of others, who will speak up for yours?

The  National Equality March is October 11th,Sunday in Washington D.C. It is the 30th anniversary of the first gay rights march in Washington D.C. It is coming out day. It is the day before Columbus day, which many people have off. If you can go, go. If you cannot, donate to the cause. Support a person who can go. Many groups are organizing buses at very affordable prices, especially student organizations. (more…)

Closet Talk: TransIssues with Allyson Robinson, Associate Director of Diversity, HRC

August 31, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Closet Talk, Community Outreach, Featured

Closet TalkEven a summary of Allyson Robinson’s life and work within the LGBT community would fill a book. Allyson is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, a pastor with a Masters in divinity, the Associate Director of Diversity for HRC, a wife and a mother. Just in case I forget to mention it later, Allyson is also transgender – and she blogs! In this episode of Closet Talk, we discussed Allyson’s life before coming out/transitioning and her life now.

Interestingly, Allyson is also legally married to a woman, something we further discuss on the show.  Their marriage, while illegal for most same-sex couples, is recognized by the United States government because Allyson was married prior to her transition.  Listen to the show to learn more about this “loop-hole” in the law.

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: Dear Dr. Phil

August 28, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Action Alerts

Gay EducationRecently, we were asked by our friends over at Queers United to help spread the word in asking people to write to Dr. Phil and demand accurate and positive information regarding LGBT individuals. I can’t read Dr. Phil’s mind nor can I read the minds of those at Queers United, but I can read my own as well as the scientific and psychological literature on this topic. The word is that the Dr. Phil show is planning two new episodes, “Teen Experimenting With Bisexuality?” and “Struggling With Sexual Identity?”

So what does “Geekgirl,” the mom and molecular biologist, have to say about this?

Dr. Phil, the well-known talk show host with a degree in psychology, has done shows in the past on topics such as transgendered children and same-sex marriage. Both shows included “experts” from both “sides” of the topic. I put experts in quotes because the experts on one side just happened to be from Focus on the Family. It seems to me that when real people with real lives are at stake, that isn’t the time to bring out the political debate. It’s the time to bring out the scientific facts and most current psychological research.

I want Dr. Phil to talk about the struggles of real LGBT people. LGBT teens struggle greatly with their identity, some may not be sure but many are sure. Their real struggle is dealing with bullying and teasing, fear of rejection from family and friends, discrimination and marginalization. Most of my gay friends, and I have gay friends that range from 20 to 60, tried to be straight. Some tried so hard they were married for many years.

As far as teens experimenting with bisexuality, there has certainly been news coverage of this.  Dr. Phil is a little behind the New York Times, which discussed the increase in bisexual experimentation in same-sex high schools. We all know the song “I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It.”  So are we on the brink of moral decay and the collapse of civilization because small numbers of teens have found it trendy to experiment sexually with someone of the same gender?

Here are a few  news flashes. First, experimenting with someone of the same sex is not new. I’m 54. Without going into details, I went to high school too. Trust me, half the kids in my graduating class were not virgins. Who doesn’t know stories of boys engaging in, ahem, circle jerks?

But what are the real facts regarding experimenting with bisexuality? Surprisingly, I found only one scientific study on this subject. (That doesn’t mean this is the only one. It just means, this is all I found in Science Direct, a database with a large number of psychology publications.)  In the year 2007, an article entitled “Correlates of early overt and covert sexual behaviors in heterosexual women” was published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior; Volume 36 pgs. 724-40. The researchers, Bickham PJ, et al; were from the Department of Psychology at Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia. They found that in a survey of 417 heterosexual women, 25% of the women had either sexually experimented with other women or masturbated using images of females by the time that they were 18.

But I did hit a mother load of teens experimenting with the opposite gender.  In 2005, researchers from Bowling Green University in Ohio studied adolescent sexual activity with respect to non-romantic partners; published in Social Science Research 34 (2005) 384–407. In a nutshell, the researchers already knew that the majority of teens have sex from prior publications. Majority means over 50% had engaged in heterosexual behaviors. The researchers wanted to know how many of these relationships were of a romantic nature versus a casual encounter.

Analyses of the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth indicate that almost one-quarter (23%) of adolescent girls retrospectively reported their first sexual experience with someone whom they just met, with individuals with whom they were ‘‘just friends’’ or had gone out with ‘‘once in a while’’ (Elo et al., 1999; Manning et al., 2000).

That’s right. 23% of adolescent girls had sex with someone they had just met, were just friends with or went out with once in a while. If they are willing to have casual sex, you can bet that they routinely have sex with the boys that they are dating. These were heterosexual encounters. Casual sex.

As a mom, a biologist and an LGBT advocate, I don’t see where gender fits into the picture. Adolescents have always experimented with sex. Here is what I think matters and what I will be writing to Dr. Phil.

Let’s teach our teens, all teens – straight or LGBT, the facts about sex. The biology of sex, preventing pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, different sexual behaviors and the associated risks. Let’s also teach them that sexual behavior has an emotional and psychological side. Casual and anonymous sex can do both physical and psychological damage. Let’s teach them facts will help them make good decisions. Understanding the complexity of sexuality, being certain that they will “still be respected in the morning”, being honest with themselves and their partners about their feelings – or lack of feelings –  will help them not be emotionally hurt or betrayed.

Let’s also teach our children that sexual orientation is not a choice, it a variation found naturally in nature. LGBT people are not impaired. It is society that causes stress for LGBT people, not their biology. Bullying and teasing are not ok.

Dr. Phil, do you know that one in three teen girls in the United States is estimated to get pregnant at least once before age 20? This is from the website 4parents.gov. The end result is either an abortion or becoming a parent at a very young age. Neither is good for a teenager. I can’t quite imagine that Dr. Phil would put a “pro-teen pregnancy” expert on his show.

Dr. Phil, do a show on these topics. Tackle something important, not something just for the sake of sensationalism.

A Note from Jay:  While some may believe that religious ideology is more accurate than science, there is no place for such rhetoric in psychology.  It is imperative that the show provide inclusive research and scientific data rather than fear and politics, while confronting the psychology of sexual experimentation and the struggles of LGBT people.  It is indisputable that if society was not pressuring LGBT people to be “straight” and marginalizing our community, many of the struggles over sexual orientation would not exist.  Groups like Focus on the Family are the leaders in causing this social disconnect and, ultimately, the deaths, damage and “self-loathing” within our community.

Please take a moment to visit Queers United for additional information on the inaccurate and hateful psychology previously used on the Dr. Phil show.

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Geekgirl (Jude) is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles. Her science blog can be found at LGBT Latest Science.