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Gay Group Goes Public to Celebrate DADT Repeal – Members Leave in Response

September 20, 2011 By: jaysays Category: Thought of the Gay

Gay San Antonio Facebook GroupThe Facebook group titled “Gay San Antonio” will be marking the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell by “coming out” from the “private” setting to the “public” setting on Facebook.  When the Administrators formed the group, they originally set the privacy settings so that, without an invitation, the group postings and its members remained hidden.  The chosen method of celebration seems appropriate and symbolic, but not all members support the change. Several of them announced that once the group goes public, they will be removing themselves from it for fear of retaliation by their family, co-workers and friends.

One of the group members who is leaving stated:

Sorry I can’t be a part of it but being a part of a political organization like this in the public eye will greatly harm my credibility at work. I’d rather be semi-in-the-closet and employed than openly gay and broke.

This is a very real and reasonable fear shared by many. “Coming out” of the closet as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is far too often a career killer.  It’s no wonder that the repeal of DADT is so bittersweet for me.  I see through the rose-colored, celebratory glasses and look directly at our oppressors and oppressions ruling us with fear.  The reality that our lives are still governed by this fear is a grotesque ode to the heavy toll denying dignity and freedom to a people has on their lives.

So to all members of Gay San Antonio (past, present and future), I offer you this video of Ms. Nina Simone, answering the question, “What’s freedom?”:

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: Coming Out Day is For Everyone

October 07, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Headline, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

Gay EducationOctober 11th is Coming Out Day. I can’t help but wonder what it is that prompts a gay person to come out. Especially in a place like a workplace, where your very livelihood is at stake. As a straight person, I can only imagine and I would never have the audacity to say this is something I know or feel. In last week’s Closet Talk interview with Jen Dugan, of the 1st Annual Nationwide You Are Loved Chalk Messages Project, Jen told her own coming out story and how surprised she was at the support. Many individuals told her that had they known, they would have supported her. She used the words “It goes unsaid.”

I wrote those words down. I know that for me and many straight friends, support goes unsaid. So why does it go unsaid and how can we say it? Perhaps more importantly, I would love to hear from LGBT folks what clues you look for to know that it is safe to come out to someone? A recent study showed that only 27% of LGBT people are completely out at work, even in companies with anti-discrimination policies.

Back on topic. We straight people, who support equality, have been trained not to ask; not by don’t ask, don’t tell.  We feel like it is a matter of respecting someone’s privacy.  You worry that all we will see is your sexual orientation or gender identity. We worry that you will think that is all we see.

So what are some ways that you can show your own values? If you think of it this way, it’s easier to see what you can do. Because then you are just being yourself.

If you hear remarks that are negative toward LGBT people, speak up. It could be in private or during the conversation. It can be as simple as “I didn’t think that was nice/funny/appropriate.” If it’s a good person that you feel is just naive, do it privately and let them know you are sure they are not the kind of person who would want to hurt someone. I grew up in an environment where people told racist and ethnic based jokes. I didn’t realize how hurtful those comments could be until someone told me.

If you have gay family or friends, talk about them in the same ways that you would a straight friend or couple. You don’t have to focus on the gay part. Focus on who they are as people. Most of the gay friends I have feel like being gay is not the most important thing that you should know about them.

Never hear anything negative and you don’t have gay friends? Do you like a gay musician or actor? Did you like Will and Grace?  Glee?  Modern Family? Do you go to a gay-affirming church? All of these will reveal something about your values.

I have an HRC equality sign visible in my cubicle. LGBT people recognize it immediately, yet most straight people are not familiar with it. When people ask me, I tell them what it means. I find that if I let someone know my values, they either show their support or simply move on. No one has picked a fight with me yet.

Last, but not least, if you are LGBT, just be yourself. You don’t need to be an activist. In fact, just being yourself is the best thing that you can do for yourself and the LGBT movement. Because when others see you as a real person who just happens to be gay, that is when they are the most supportive. 83% of people who know a gay person as family or friend are supportive of equal rights. There is  a message in that statistic for straight people who don’t know anyone gay.

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.

My Cousin, My Hero: Why Coming Out Matters.

September 19, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Religion

shirleyBy the time I was 15 years old, I had already had my first boyfriend, kind of.  I had begun to accept that I was “gay,” but I had also experienced the sting of being a “fag.”  Society, it seemed, disapproved.  The disapproval was so great that I’d often be chased home by groups of boys on bicycles throwing rocks at me and calling me “fag.”

I remember walking home from school one day at 12 years old and coming across the one person in that small Arkansas town I thought I could call friend.  She was interracial; and like me, she was the “only one in the village.”  She was well accepted in a town that was overwhelmingly white and entirely protestant.  As her story was told to me, her mother had been raped by a black man, and decided, rather than succumb to the sin of baby murder, to have the child; this interracial child.  Because her mother wasn’t willing, the town’s people felt it was “o.k.” to allow a “negro” there.

One day, I walked up to her smiling and laughing about a recent experience in the classroom, she looked at me and screamed, “Get away from me, you faggot.”  That was society’s doing.  She was taught that I was worthless.  I was rejected even by those that were rejected.

I often think of that every time I hear someone say, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”  At 12 years old, I was a virgin, had never kissed another boy and certainly wasn’t ready to do so.  I had not sinned, but I was hated.

Go forward again to 15 after I’d escaped back to the “big city” of San Antonio, Texas and you’d find me sitting in my room talking on the phone with various girlfriends.  We’d usually be on a three-way call and sometimes four or five people would be on conference together using a pre-determined three-way calling chain.  I’d call Jen, who would call Jeremy, who would call Cathy and so forth and so on.  What the girls on the call didn’t know is that sometimes Jeremy and I would talk without them on the line.  We’d laugh and carry on, flirting mercilessly with one another.

My first “gay” kiss was with Jeremy.  He was 2 years my senior and so much wiser.  The result was that Jeremy was ready to come out, and decided to take me with him – unbeknownst to me.

Imagine my surprise the next morning at school when I found that my carefully planned disguise/girlfriend, Emily, was now fully aware that I had a “boyfriend.”  Imagine my horror to discover that many of my friends had been taught the same way as those in the small town of Arkansas and I was again, “fag.”  I cut all ties with Jeremy and hid myself away until finally, my mother advised we were moving.  God was smiling down to save me and back to the closet I went, safe from the torment.

I had a bit of a social shut down.  At my new school, I dared not attempt to make friends, they would find out.  Society hated me.  Society was my enemy.

I had been raised around a highly evangelical family.  God was invoked for nearly every situation.  Whatever it was, it was in his hands. But still, I hadn’t been told anything like, “being gay is a sin.”  I was wholly (or holy) unaware that God hated me as well.  I found solace in God and heaven and knew I could endure the torment some day, if I just had enough faith in God.  I was almost ready to tell the world again; to come out.  With Jesus as my companion, I would prevail.

Then I turned on the T.V. one day to see a televangelist smiling down his nose at me.  His words spoken, then flashed onto the screen, “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.”  As the Bible reference appeared, I went running to my room, devastated. I read the words in Leviticus 18:22 from the perspective of a 15 year old boy whose only true friend was Jesus.  My friend, it seemed, had betrayed me.  There was no one left to love me because I was gay.

I could go on about the countless nights of tear-stained pillows, the chronic depression and suicidal thoughts carefully hidden away least someone find out why I was so depressed.  I could tell you about my prayers where I begged God/Jesus to let me die in my sleep.  I dared not commit the sin of taking my own life or live the sin of being a gay man, but that is not the point.

God, the supreme power, the one that we all are told we can turn to when life brings us down, was off-limits to me.  Society rejected me and God rejected me.  I was out of options — or so I had been taught.

Then I went to visit my extended family.  My cousin was a few years older than me and we’d always been fairly close growing up.  We went running around the town without a mission or purpose with her girlfriend.  I knew she was a lesbian thanks to rumors from the family, but she’d never told me herself.  That night she did tell me and I suddenly wasn’t alone.

That’s another one of the many reasons why Harvey Milk was right.  We have to come out.  We have to tell people.  We have to let kids that are in that dark place know that they aren’t alone, that not everyone hates them, that God has not abandoned them and that we will not abandon them.  We have to keep them safe.

Thank you, Shirley, for unwittingly saving my life.

Closet Talk: Jay’s Story | I’ve Been To Paradise

July 29, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Closet Talk, Community Outreach, Featured

Closet TalkTonight, Closet Talk flipped on its head with guest host, Tammy Defoe of tamfastic.com taking the reigns and interviewing me.  Before the show, Tammy and I talked and I asked her to come up with questions about my coming out and my life.  What I wasn’t prepared for was her asking me about was my death – or the possibility of it.

Listen as I falter a bit when asked about the possibility of my demise at the hands of those that oppose LGBT equality and realize the effect that the possibility has on those I love:

Closet Talk: Out Music Award Nominee | Angela “Oxygen” Edge

July 08, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Closet Talk, Community Outreach, Featured

Closet TalkAngela “Oxygen” Edge is a brilliant singer/songwriter and performer.  She had two coming out experiences with her family, the first when she was dragged out, but denied it.  The second, by the media when she was going on tour with SONiA and Disappear Fear.

Listen as she speaks her truth about Go Screw Warren, coming out, her conservative upbringing and her compassionate understanding of her parents’ confusion and concerns in this episode of Closet Talk.

Angela, I’m truly your number 1 fan.

Mother’s Day – A Homo’s Tale

May 10, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Closet Talk, Community Outreach

Mom and IWe all know that gay people go through a coming out process.  Most gay, lesbian and bisexual children go through a long period where they aren’t sure how to express their sexuality.  They are afraid to confide this information in anyone, particularly their parents.  Some opinions indicate that this fear to “come out” revolves around self-loathing; that the gay child dislikes that he/she is gay and is embarrassed to reveal the truth. However, the fear of societal rejection is what prevented me from jumping out of the closet for many years.

When I was very young, it was obvious that my family suspected something.  My mother would often make comments like, “I love my children, no matter what.  I’d love them even if they were gay.”

Now, the child in me didn’t understand that statement.  I actually thought that she was saying that because “being gay” was the worst possible thing she could think of for one of her chidlren to be; therefore, she would use that as an example of how far reaching her love for her children actually was, and is.  It wasn’t until much later in life that I realized that the comment may have been mom’s way of telling me she knew.

After coming out, I recall my brother telling me that he’s known since I was five years old.  My brother, a rough and tumble biker-type, has the strongest “gaydar” of anyone I’ve ever met.  Honestly, it’s a little frightening.

One thing I didn’t consider in my own “coming out” process was the process my family would have to go through.  I had spent several years struggling with how to do it, when to do it, if I should do it, and all the other thousands of questions that you go through during that time.  I had spent countless nights crying myself to sleep as I feared the abuse from my peers would worsen if I admitted that they were right, I am a “faggot.”

My mother didn’t have that luxury.  I look back now and think about how inconsiderate I was to give her so little time to comprehend the full weight and measure of my coming out when I gave myself so very long.  But my mother has always been the strongest person in the world, my hero and my best friend.

More years than I care to admit have passed since my coming out.  Mom and I remain best friends. So to mom, this Mother’s Day – I love you. no matter what – even if you are straight.

This week, on May 13, 2009, I will be talking with Becky, the mother of a young man who recently came out of the closet, about a parent’s coming out process.  You can tune in at 10:00 P.M. Central at Blog Talk Radio.

Upcoming Closet Talk Episodes

April 24, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Closet Talk, Community Outreach

Closet TalkHere’s a line up of the upcoming episodes of Closet Talk with jaysays.  Remember, if you are interested in being a guest on the show, please visit the Closet Talk page and complete the form!

Closet Talk: Kyle’s Story – 4/29/2009: 10:00 PM CT / 8:00 PM PTCloset Talk

In this episode of Closet Talk, jaysays talks with Kyle Levinger, a 22 year old gay man who came out at 19 years old. Kyle grew up in Idaho but moved to California 3 years ago. He is an artist whose work can be viewed at http://www.kylelevinger.com.

Closet Talk: Preston’s Story – 5/6/2009 : 10:00 PM CT / 8:00 PM PT

Preston Parsley, a member/organizer for Join the Impact San Antonio, will be sharing his story with jaysays during this episode of Closet Talk. Preston came out at 16 years old and received a mixed response from his closet family members. Although he misses his family, he recognizes the familial relationships available to him within the gay community.

Closet Talk: Becky’s Story – 5/13/2009: 10:00 PM CT / 8:00 PM PT

Becky is a heterosexual; however, her son recently came out of the closet as “gay.”  In this episode, we will be talking about Becky’s own “coming out” as a parent of a gay child and how it has impacted her life and relationship with her son.

Closet Talk: MJ’s Story

April 23, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Closet Talk, Community Outreach, Featured

Closet TalkCloset TalkIf you missed Closet Talk last night you missed a great story from MJ (as well as some technical distractions from yours truly at the beginning of the show).  MJ, an out-of-the-closet lesbian, eloquently told her story of life before and after the closet, weaving us through her fears and feelings of loneliness but always leading us right back to where we should be, hopeful.

You can hear the archive of the show at Blogtalk Radio: Closet Talk with jaysays or using the player below:

Getting Outed by the Phrase “Suck My D…”

February 13, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Thought of the Gay

It’s not my fault that I forget there are were members of my family that didn’t know about my homosexuality.  Actually, it’s not that they didn’t know, it’s that they were too young to understand when people use the word “gay” it applied to “Uncle J.”

I refer to two of my nephews.  I adore my nephews and nieces and great niece and nephews, but the family decided early on that we would just let them grow up with us without saying, “He’s gay.”  My nephews that “didn’t” know are now 13 and 9 years old.  They are at the age of “that’s so gay” and kids make fun of each other for being gay, but this isn’t a story about the result of their finding out as much as it is a story of how they found out.

Earlier in the week, my nephews were outside playing.  Their parents had gotten them walkie-talkies so they could communicate with the home front and each other.  The result is that my sister-in-law can hear many of their conversations with each other.  The youngest nephew (let’s call him Hal) paged the older nephew (will call him Cal) to advise Cal that another boy had invited him over to play.  Cal responded to Hal’s request with “Tell him I said he can ‘suck my d…'”  Of course, their mother (we’ll call her “Bikeresque”) overheard this exchange on her walkie, but didn’t really know how to respond.  She called my brother (we’ll call him “the Butthead” because I’m still holding a grudge for him missing my live performance) and advised him of what she had overheard.  The Butthead said to pretend she didn’t hear anything and wait until he gets home from work and he will handle the situation.

That night, they were all sitting around the dinner table when my brother turns to Cal and says, “So, I need to clear something up with you.  What’s it like to have your d… sucked?”  I won’t go into how I feel about this sort of parenting, but when I heard that, I gasped and laughed simultaneously and since I’m not a parent, I’m hardly a parenting expert.  Not exactly the direction I would have thought to go with it, mostly because I’d be afraid I would get an answer!  Cal turned ghostly pale.  My brother continued, “Well, I understand you wanted [the other boy] to suck your d…, are you gay?”

“No.” Cal’s col0r still hadn’t returned.

“Then I don’t understand, you don’t know what it’s like to have that done to you but you told another boy to do it to you and you aren’t gay?”

Cal meekly stated, “No, I’m not gay.”

The Butthead went on, “Well, it’s ok if you are gay.  I just feel we would need to know that so we can talk to you about specific health concerns and what that will mean.”

Cal reaffirmed his heterosexuality, “I’m not gay.”

My brother, not one to back off when he’s trying to make a point said, “Well, if you are gay, you know you can always talk to Uncle Jay about it…”

This is the point where the gasps from Bikeresque broke into the conversation.  I’d been labeled as “gay” to my nephews forever more.  She asked, “You guys do know that Uncle Jay is gay and Christopher is his partner?”

Both Hal and Cal responded… “Noooooo.”

Needless to say, the purpose of the conversation (to make Cal understand that such vulgarity is inappropriate and open to unusual interpretation) was now nearly forgotten.  I firmly believe that my nephews have always “known” that Christopher and I are a couple in some form, but never associated us with the word “gay.”  I can only imagine what that must be like for them considering the word “gay” is so often used in a negative way.

NOTE: I was not present when my labeling occurred.  The quotes above are based upon how the story was relayed to be by Bikeresque and may not be completely accurate quotes.  In fact, I’m fairly sure they aren’t, but the substance is the same.

UPDATE: You’ll note the absence of my own feelings regarding the above.  Since I was asked, I thought I’d express my opinions.  I’m honestly not too worried about them “knowing” I’m gay.  Although, I do have those moments when I wonder if they will worry that giving me the big hugs we normally share will mean they are gay.  Kids, who knows what they think.