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Archive for the ‘iQreport’

San Antonio Man Murdered for Making Sexual Advances on Another Man

November 14, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Featured, Hate Crimes, iQreport, LGBT News

gaypanicA San Antonio man was murdered in front of a local bar after he allegedly made a sexual advance toward another man. Enrique Santos, 22,  has confessed to the murder of 50 year old, Jorge Sgetelmeg, stating that a fight broke out after Sgetelmeg purchased some beer for Santos.  According to Santos’ confession and affidavit, Sgetelmeg and he were sharing the beer in his SUV.  Sgetelmeg made a sexual advance at Santos and Santos punched him several times in the face before removing a rock from his pocket and hitting him several more times – then chocking the man with a neck tie.

Sgetelmeg was found dead, but Santos’ driving was no match for his intoxication.  He crashed and was arrested by police fro driving while intoxicated and on a previous traffic warrant.  The connection to the murder was made by the detectives as witnesses had provided a description of Santos’ black SUV.

This happened in my hometown.  It’s not the first and certainly won’t be the last violent, unnecessary crime that occurs simply because someone’s ego was compromised; however, we can only hope that a San Antonio jury will not acquit this admitted murderer as other juries have done when the Gay Panic Defense has been invoked.

What I Learned from The Austin Marriage Equality Rally

November 08, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, iQreport, Thought of the Gay

Several dozen people walk the streets of Austin, Texas to support LGBT Rights and show solidarity with Maine.

Several dozen people walk the streets of Austin, Texas to support LGBT Rights and show solidarity with Maine.

On Saturday, November 8, 2009, Christopher and I jumped in my car and began the long drive to Austin, Texas.  We had seen on facebook that nearly 200 people had confirmed to attend a marriage equality rally in Austin, Texas to show solidarity with the election in Maine.  We had hoped for a large turnout; however, upon arriving at the rally point, only about 20 people were standing around the small stage, still furiously attempting to make their signs for the impromptu rally.

As we were setting up and preparing to live blog the event for iQreport, we were advised that the rally would start a bit later than planned as more people were still arriving.  At 1:30 p.m. Ambri Williams took to the stage and called upon those attending to demand their equal rights. The small crowd, which had grown to about 50 people, responded.  Dana Cloud rallied the troops and permit-less activists began marching through the streets of Austin, chanting things like, “Hey, hey, ho ho transphobia has got to go” and “Obama, Obama, let mama marry mama.”

The number of marchers began increasing and, as we passed by a local Austin gay bar, Oil Can Charlies, patrons and those nearby joined the marchers as we continued disrupting lunches and other Saturday afternoon business with our demands for equal treatment under the law.  It was a moment of visibility.  In spite of the small turn out, it worked.  People listened, applauded, honked and joined in the movement.

Dana Cloud, coordinator of Join the Impact – Austin, called for the event, along with several other well connected organizations around the country.  I spoke with Dana briefly after the rally and asked her about the importance of these rallies:

I must admit that I was a bit disappointed by the small turnout for the rally and march.  After the dust settled, Christopher, the love of my life, and I went to a local Chinese restaraunt.  When he opened his fortune cookie, I learned that the numbers matter less than the cause:

Stand up for what you believe in even if it's not popular

Update from Portland Maine No On 1 Headquarters – Minorities Denied by Majority Tyranny

November 03, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Headline, iQreport, LGBT News, Marriage Equality

noon1I just spoke with Jeremy DaRos of RageAgainstTheRight.com who is attending the No On One Maine party in Portland at the Holiday Inn.  Attendees are cautiously optimistic as numbers are slowly working their way in.  Because Maine precincts are small, Jeremy tells us we can expect faster results than most states with large metropolitan city centers.

Currently, preliminary results are showing an 80% or more lead for the No On One campaign over those that oppose the same-sex measure.  Jeremy reminds us using a sports analogy nearly lost on this sissy-blogger that it’s as if your favorite team scored a field goal in the first minute of the game and you expect them to win.

You can follow Jeremy DaRos on twitter, @DividedSky1976, as he will be updating live and bookmark this page as updates will be provided as I follow-up with Jeremy periodically throughout the night.

*** UPDATE ***

9:20PM ET – 52.49% in favor of keeping the same sex marriage law to 47.51% in favor of discriminating with 14% reporting.

9:33PM ET – South Portland 64% No to H8 v. 36% in favor of discriminating – thank you S. Portland!

10:05PM ET – Margin narrows with 22% of precints reporting: 50.62% NO – 49.38% yes.

10:30pm ET – 50.1% No, 49.9% Yes with 32% reporting.

10:35pm ET – 51.2% No, 48.8% Yes with 32% reporting.

10:42pm ET – 51.0% No, 49.0% Yes with 33% reporting.

10:44pm ET – 50.6% No, 49.4% Yes with 34% reporting.

10:46pm ET – Split 50/50 with a slight no lead of 37 votes with 37% reporting.

10:49pm ET – 50.2% No, 49.8% Yes with 38% reporting.

11:01pm ET – 50.1% No, 49.9% Yes with 44% reporting.

11:07pm ET – 50.4% Yes, 49.6% No with 49% reporting.

11:09pm ET – 50.3% Yes, 49.7% No with 51% reporting.

11:15pm ET – 51% Yes, 49% No with 56% reporting.

11:20pm ET – 51.5% Yes, 48.5% No with 59% reporting.

11:24pm ET – 51.6% Yes, 48.4% No with 59% reporting.

11:34pm ET – 51.1% Yes, 48.5% No with 65% reporting.

10:52pm ET – 51.8% Yes, 48.2% No with 69% reporting.

10:58pm ET – 51.8% Yes, 48.2% No with 71% reporting.

11:04pm ET – 51.9% Yes, 48.1% No with 74% reporting.

11:07pm ET – 52.1% Yes, 47.9% No with 75% reporting.

11:14pm ET – 52.1% Yes, 47.9% No with 75% reporting.

11:21pm ET – 52.4% Yes, 47.6% No with 79% reporting.

11:36pm ET – 52.4% Yes, 47.6% No with 82% reporting.

11:49pm ET – 52.6% Yes, 47.4% No with 84% reporting.

1:00am ET – 52.7% Yes, 47.3% No with 86% reporting.

New York Times has called the victory for the Yes On 1 Campaign overturning the rights of taxpaying U.S. citizens.

Yes We Do – Help in WA, ME and MI

October 29, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, iQreport, Thought of the Gay

noon1You’re help is needed now more than ever in the quest for equality.  It’s time we start taking action.  Obama told us “Yes we can,” but first, we have to DO.  I’ve signed up to help in Washington already, and moments after posting, I’ll be heading over to sign up to help in Maine.  But one person isn’t enough.  Send everyone you know the following information, courtesy of Equality Texas and fight along with me for equality for ALL!


Washington:

Who we are: Approve Referendum 71 is the campaign to preserve domestic partnerships in Washington State. By voting to approve, voters retain the domestic partnership laws that were passed during this year’s legislative session, including using sick leave to care for a partner, adoption rights, insurance rights, and more.

What we need: We need phone bankers to get our supporters out to vote. Washington is an all mail-in ballot state, and we need to ensure our supporters put their ballots in the mail. Also, youth turnout is a critical component of our campaign, and youth turnout historically drops in off-year elections. So we need a lot of help to turn them out.

How you do it: Sign up here to make remote calls for Approve 71. We’ll then contact you for a training, and you can make GOTV calls.


Maine:

Who we are: The No On 1/Protect Maine Equality campaign is working to protect Maine’s recently-passed law legalizing marriage equality for same-sex couples. Our opponents have put the issue on the ballot for Nov 3, 2009. Because of Maine’s early voting election laws, people are already voting at the polls, so we need help immediately to turn out our side at the polls.

What we need: We need you to devote a few hours to Call for Equality. Call for Equality is a virtual phonebank set up so that you can call Maine voters wherever you are. Much of Maine is rural, where canvassing isn’t effective, so we need to reach these voters- along with other supporters- by phone. All you need is a phone and internet connection. No experience required! We’ll provide the training, and all you need is a a few hours to help get a win in Maine.

How you do it: Click here to sign up for a training and your shift. There are lots of times available for your convenience.


Kalamazoo, MI:

Who We Are: The Yes on Ordinance 1856 / One Kalamazoo campaign is working in Michigan to support the City Commission of Kalamazoo’s twice approved ordinance for housing, employment, and public accommodation protections for gay and transgender residents. Opponents forced a public referendum on the ordinance so dedicated local volunteers, led by former Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jon Hoadley, are working to ensure voters say YES to fairness and equality and keep Ordinance 1856.

Why The Urgency: In the final weeks, the opposition has gone all out with aggressive disinformation and misleading red herrings to try to defeat the ordinance. This includes signs that say “No to Discrimination” (even though voting No actually supports continued discrimination of GLBT residents), transphobic door hangers and fliers, and now radio ads that falsely suggest that criminal behavior will become legal when this simply isn’t true. The Yes on Ordinance 1856 supporters are better organized but many voters who want to vote for gay and transgender people are getting confused by the opposition.

How To Help:

1) Help the One Kalamazoo campaign raise a final $10,000 specifically dedicated to fight back against the lies on the local TV and radio airwaves and fully fund the campaign’s final field and GOTV efforts. Give by clicking here.

2) If you live nearby and can physically volunteer in Kalamazoo sign up here. If you know anyone that lives in Kalamazoo, use the One Kalamazoo campaign’s online canvass tool to remind those voters that they need to vote on November 3rd and vote YES on Ordinance 1856 to support equality for gay and transgender people. Click here to contact voters

Videos: Why We Marched – The National Equality March

October 21, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, iQreport, Thought of the Gay

NEmDuring the National Equality March, I was one of numerous LGBTQ bloggers on the ground snagging pictures and interviews with people by way of iQreport.  I was determined to get as many stories as possible from all sorts of people, but I wasn’t prepared for the emotional flood that would overcome me as I saw the faces and heard the stories from the crowd.

Many of these stories happened off camera, like the man whose (would-be) husband was concerned about him appearing on video because he could lose his job, or the young boy who, after we talked with his family, wanted to do an interview of his own.  While the stories were varied and diverse, the message was the same – We aren’t going to just sit back and take it anymore.

Thanks to a lot of help from my elected videographer with an iPhone, we brought many of the videos included here to you via iQreport and my twitter feed as we were obtaining them (and as the network allowed).  I’ve compiled them into this one montage to answer the question, “Why we marched?”  It seems in the days leading up to the march many people were criticizing it – (i.e.: bad timing, bad use of resources, bad rationale, and heck we don’t even know why we are marching!?).  They talked about political strategy and said that nothing will change – but they failed to see exactly what it is that many fail to see when it comes to LGBT people – we are human.

The entire experience of the National Equality March has left me wanting to scram at those critics – sound my “barbaric yawp” at them and ask, “Why DIDN’T you march?!?”  But rather than be angry, I am grateful.  To all of the critics like Barney Frank who claimed to be with us but then told us we shouldn’t march, I simply want to tell them why I marched: I marched because of them.  I marched because I was tired of people in power telling me I can’t.  I marched to remind them that in order to get to “Yes We Can” we have to start with “Yes We Do.”  I marched for Barney Frank.

An Open Letter to the Residents of Maine

October 21, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, iQreport, Thought of the Gay

noon1Dear Resident of Maine:

Although I fancy myself as someone who will retire in the New England states, I’ve only visited Maine once in my life. It was late September and the leaves were just barely starting to show variations in their colors. I spent a long time at the airport in Bangor waiting for the luggage the airline had lost. While at the airport, authorities spotted a suspicious package and evacuated the entire terminal. I stood outside with a hundred or so other people. We were all caught off guard, a bit confused and even a bit scared.

I suppose we stood outside of the airport behind the police line for at least two hours waiting for the “all clear” from those with the power.  Eventually, a baggage cart came out and we were able to retrieve our belongings.  While waiting and curiously watching the bomb squad, I met several Maine residents, but I couldn’t talk to everyone while there, and considering the circumstances at that time, I didn’t have a chance to ask them the question that I now feel compelled to ask you.

You see, I’m in love. I’m very lucky in that regard as almost 12 years ago I met my soul mate. We’ve had our ups and downs, but mostly we’ve had ups which is the most any of us can hope to have. Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night and stare at the love of my life sleeping soundly next to me and think, “Could it get any better than this?” I’m sure many of you have felt the same way before. I’ve wanted to take our relationship to the next level for many years, but we just haven’t been able to manage it. It seems there have always been obstacles well outside of our own creation that get in the way, and that is why I’m writing to you today. I need your help.

I want to get down on one knee, look up into my darlings beautiful blue eyes and declare my devotion and commitment, but in order to do so, I have to have your permission.

I know, it seems silly doesn’t it? I’ve tried every other way I could think of to make this happen without having to ask for help from complete strangers. I don’t want to force you to take sides – the side of love, the side of your church, the side of your family’s ideology – but I’ve been left with no choice. I’m being forced to ask you for permission to marry the love of my life. My life, my relationship, my love, my American Dream is now in the hands of people like you; people I’ve likely never met, and although I wish nothing more than to prevent you from being burdened with decisions about my life (let’s face it, you probably have enough problems of your own), I haven’t been given a choice.

When you walk into the voting booth and you prepare to push the button, remember me and those in situations just like me. We are standing outside, behind the police line doing all we can, but we need you to give us the “all clear.” Our love is in your hands, please treat it gently.

Vote “NO” on 1 in Maine.

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: The Endangered White Male Species

October 21, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, iQreport, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

Gay EducationIf you are like me, you can always think of a great comeback to an offensive comment. One day later.

This last week was a whirlwind for me. One week past the National Equality March and I’m still processing everything that I experienced and felt. I felt so prepared to take on the world with such powerful words given to me by the speakers, with such energy and friendliness from everyone that I met.

So imagine my surprise when I was caught off guard by a man seated next to me on an airplane. It was fairly clear that he was relatively conservative. We kept the conversation light and delicately danced around controversial topics, as often happens in real life. A part of me had been longing for real life conversations. Because on the Internet, it is so easy to be rude. I often find myself thinking, would you say that to a person’s face?

Now it was my turn to wonder what I would say to a person’s face.  As the flight was close to its end, my fellow passenger stated that he was worried about his son’s ability to find a job after finishing college. Well, who wouldn’t be with the current economy? My son is in college and I said “I hear ya.”

He continued “Yea, I’m worried because there are all these special groups that want protection. Sexual orientation, Latinos. I worry about my normal white male species disappearing.”

I could see by his facial expression that my face already revealed my feelings. The tension rose. My mind went in several directions in those few seconds. Do I stay silent? Silence implies agreement. As a person who does not like conflict, who was raised to be polite and not start arguments, I wanted to fight that urge. My emotions wanted to oversimplify this person into a bigot and put him down. There’s a lot of indignation in the world these days. The media and the blogosphere thrive on it. It’s easy to be irate. I get irate all the time. There is a lot to be irate about.

This was in real life. What would I say to a person’s face? After all, here I am a self-proclaimed LGBT ally and supporter of human rights for all people. I, of all people, should have been able to remain clear headed and have the perfect persuasive response.  The right words that would open this man’s mind and heart in just 30 seconds.

I blurted out something like “I don’t care about a person’s race, sexual orientation, religion or politics when I hire employees. I want them to work hard, be honest and decent. We are all human. If your son can do that he will be fine.”

Awkwardly, I half smiled and left the plane. Was this man part of the “movable middle”? Did I make him think? Or did I lose that one and only chance that many people will give you? Did I anger him?   Will he be quiet, yet still have those feelings? I’m all for getting people to stop saying hurtful words. Knowing it is unacceptable is the first step to ending the cycle of bigotry and discrimination, but if children are still taught discrimination at home, it won’t really end.

So what did I think of a day later that felt like the perfect comeback? Not an answer but a question. A question asked in all sincerity. Because really, we should want to know the answer. It’s a question that all of us should ask ourselves. We find civilized discourse, honest reflections and soul searching to be boring and weak. Yet, they are the essential keys to changing another person. To changing ourselves. I don’t know how I affected this man because I didn’t ask him a question. I made a statement with a tone that said “This is final” and I missed my chance to know if I could make a difference. After all, I was not in any danger of physical harm.

I wish I had asked  “And how do you think you would feel if your son were Latino or gay? I’m serious, I would really like to know.”

Is this response perfect? I don’t know. But it is open and sincere. Without defensiveness.  Given in the hopes of letting someone feel safe enough to change before my eyes.

If you have arrived at this website by accident, if you don’t like gay people, or any other group, take a moment to ask yourself how you would feel if it were you.  Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes can be quite the wake up call. Take a moment to be human. Take the next moment to realize that we are all human. Then watch your understanding unfold before your eyes.

Next time, I’ll be ready. After all, now I am hoping you are the stranger next to me that strikes up a conversation.

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: 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.

What is the Gay Community?

October 17, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, iQreport, Thought of the Gay

kateWe always hear the words “gay community” when talking amongst ourselves, but what is it?  Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people span a spectrum of diversity that doesn’t lump us together by class, race, religion or really any binding character, trait or belief.  The only commonality most of us have with one another is that we are discriminated against socially and in our judicial system.  Perhaps, that is enough to create a “community.”

Recently, I was on the forums at gaywallet.com and I asked members what they though were some of the positives of being a member of the LGBT or Q classification.  Almost all answers revolved around a sense of community.

One common thing that happens to most of us upon coming out is we lose the community we are part of – or at least lose the standing we had in that community.  We fall a bit from the social ladder.  Perhaps this is particularly true with white gay men who, until coming out, are at the top of the social food chain.  But none of this tells me what the gay community is.

Is the gay community the club kids at the bars looking gorgeous and dancing until dawn?  Is it the activists whose feet are swollen from walking the neighborhoods asking for people to consent to our marriages?  Is it a singles’ group, a couples’ group, an HIV/AIDS prevention network, a circle jerk, a crafts store, a bookstore, a local church?  No, those are all just aspects of the LGBTQ community.

Before going to the National Equality March I had several little 140 character conversations with people from all over the country on twitter.  One of these people was Kate Walsham, a beautiful young woman from California.  Months ago we had promised each other a hug and at the National Equality March, we were able to deliver on our promise.

Originally, Kate wasn’t going to be able to come to the march.  Like many of Americans, she was down to a one income household due to the painful economy and it seemed she would miss this historic event, but through the kindness of a stranger, Kate was able to travel across the country and we were able to have our hug.  Kate told me her story while standing somewhere between the U.S. Treasury Department and the “Ellipse,” and that’s where I found the Gay Community.  Here is Kate, sharing her story with you:

Lt. Dan Choi, a CSPAN Camera Man and Duct Tape

October 12, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, iQreport, Thought of the Gay

Lt Dan ChoiPerhaps I’m stretching a bit, but there was a moment at the National Equality March that I will never forget. Perhaps I’ve made it more profound than it may have really been, but I feel the need to share it.  When Lt. Dan Choi, the U.S. soldier and Arabic linguist discharged under the military’s don’t ask, don’t tell policy, took to the stage to speak to the crowd, his mouth was symbolically duct taped closed.  He stood there for a moment, saluting the marchers before tearing the duct tape from his mouth and beginning his speech.  It was a moment of dramatic flare that spoke volumes.  Lt. Choi would not be silent:

As you’ll note, the video above was taken by CSPAN.  I just happened to be stationed right next to a CSPAN cameraman.  A couple of hours into the rally, the platform he was standing on broke and he came tumbling down.  Thankfully, he was not injured, but without the platform, he would be unable to properly direct the camera and capture the shots like those you see in the above video.

After examination of the platform, it was discovered that the locking hinge on one leg had broken.  A volunteer near by, a kindly lady that kept saying to the jaysays.com team, “Don’t rush the stage,” had the solution.  She grabbed a roll of the nearby duct tape and wrapped the hinge over and over, fixing the cameraman’s perch.

I found the moment very metaphoric.  Lt. Dan Choi used the duct tape as a symbol of silence; however, this volunteer used it to repair the cameraman’s platform and thus, make our voices heard.

Photos from the National Equality March

October 12, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Featured, iQreport

david mixnerI wanted to share some of my photographs from the National Equality March this weekend. I hope you enjoy them.  I met some fantastic people and had a wonderful dinner at The District Chophouse with Genia Stevens, Andrea, Lester Leavitt, Mickey, Jonathon, Jae, Elisa, and, of course, our very own, Jude.

We had a bit of time to just kick back and get to know each other in person on Saturday night, but Sunday came at us fast and there was a lot of work to be done.

The speakers were fabulous and a lot of memories were made.  Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing stories of those I met with video and photographs.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these photographs.  More photographs and videos from myself and the other iQreporters are available at http://iQreport.usfreedomring.com.

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