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Celebrating LGBT Pride 2009: Vandals, Thieves and Police OH MY.

July 01, 2009 By: christophersays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

taintedAs Pride month closes we should take a moment to address the proclamation made by the President of the United States of America, issued on June 1.  In his opening statement, President Barack Obama declares:

Forty years ago, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City resisted police harassment that had become all too common for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.

Mr. President the reference to the injustices the LGBT community experienced at the Stonewall Inn falls short of addressing the harassment this minority continues to encounter throughout the country; including the abhorrent dismissal of our rights by your very own administration.  While the repeated raids and unconscionable treatment of the patrons of Stonewall Inn led to rioting in the summer of ’69, four decades later our community is still faced with intimidation, coercion and even worse based on nothing more than our identity.  This discrimination is only promoted as the government of the United States denies equality to LGBT citizens.

Repeating history and marking the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots, the wee hours of Sunday, June 28, saw police raid the Rainbow Lounge; a gay bar, new to Ft. Worth, Texas.  Reports indicate that two straight bars were also surprised with inspections by six Ft. Worth police officers and two Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission officers earlier that evening.  Conflicting allegations by both the officers involved as well as patrons of the Rainbow Lounge about what took place during the raid leave much to be determined.  However what is fact is that of those arrested at the gay bar one individual ended up in a sling while another ended up with a fractured skull.

Meanwhile, June 29, during San Francisco’s 39th annual Gay Pride festivities, vandals set fire to an acre wide pink triangle; a memorial designed to honor LGBT victims of the Holocaust.  The message these degenerates sent is very clear.  The smoldering embers of what is left behind of this symbol, is not only slightly representative of what our people have already gone through but also a reminder of those that wish to see our end.

Hanging in 35 elevators located within the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) building, Washington DC, were posters commemorating LGBT Pride Month.  Many of the posters were removed or defaced.  As new posters went back up, they continued to be vandalized and torn down.  This criminal activity is believed to have been executed by an employee of the department.

The DOL’s mission statement reads:

The Department of Labor fosters and promotes the welfare of the job seekers, wage earners, and retirees of the United States by improving their working conditions, advancing their opportunities for profitable employment, protecting their retirement and health care benefits, helping employers find workers, strengthening free collective bargaining, and tracking changes in employment, prices, and other national economic measurements. In carrying out this mission, the Department administers a variety of Federal labor laws including those that guarantee workers’ rights to safe and healthful working conditions; a minimum hourly wage and overtime pay; freedom from employment discrimination; unemployment insurance; and other income support.

The Department of Labor cannot keep a simple poster on the wall and while they claim to “guarantee workers’ right to safe and healthful working conditions” including “freedom from employment discrimination.” The LGBT community is faced with the reality of harassment in the workplace as well as wrongful termination based again on nothing more than our identity.  What truly is the department’s message?

So we’ve covered the heartland.  We’ve covered the West Coast…Ahhh, San Francisco.  Gay San Francisco.  Let’s move onto one of the most diverse cities of the U.S., New York City.

While in New York on business, Joe Holladay walked out of the apartment he was staying at to smoke a cigarette.  Standing on the sidewalk, minding his business, Mr. Holladay was attacked by five to six men sporting “crewcuts, wearing wife-beaters” (yeah, those guys).  Neighbors reported the group of men shouted anti-gay slurs, before the victim was struck down with a blunt object.  Mr. Holladay and neighbors recall the assailants calling Mr. Holladay a “faggot” before and during the assault.  Upon making his way down to the street, John Jerome (the apartment tenant), mistook Mr. Holladay for dead.  Does this message need to be any clearer?

Back to the heartland, Omaha:

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

As William Crilly, 66 year old resident of Omaha, Nebraska, made his way through the Omaha Pride parade with a rainbow covered wagon and attached sign reading the above scripture, Romans 6:23, HRC volunteer Kendra Konrady took notice.  At the time the make-shift float caught her eye, she was handing out the well known HRC equality stickers.  Ms. Konrady then threw a few stickers into the wagon.  The next thing she knew her arms were flailing as she was accosted by Mr. Crilly who grabbed her from behind and placed her into a headlock.

Apparently Mr. Crilly, like so many of the Religious Reich, does not believe in turning the other cheek, but sir…we did get your hateful message.

The invasions are not limited to public spaces or even the work place, they are even happening in private residences.  While hosting a fundraiser for Congressional candidate Francine Busby, Shari Barman was arrested and several other guests were pepper sprayed by police officers.  The officers had responded to a “noise complaint” they had received at approximate 9:33 in the evening (well before the city’s curfew on noise levels set in).  Before and during the intrusion, an unidentified man (presumably a neighbor) could be heard shouting anti-gay slurs and other obscenities.  Once again the message is clear.

And though the discrimination against the LGBT community is even recognized and acknowledged by the President of the greatest country in the mostly free world, little has been done to effectively make the changes necessary to raise our status to equal.

Mr. President, your proclamation ends by declaring June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride month.  You’ve called “upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.”  What about June 2010…2011…2012 and so on?  What is your message?

To you dear reader: although we have only been granted this one month, “in the year of our Lord, two thousand nine” by a President, who perhaps views us in a different light than his predecessors, do not be fooled.  We must continue to celebrate our pride, make our way in this world and effectively change what is not right.  The message is clear…no one will do it for us. Stand up, speak out and most importantly:

Celebrate your pride!

christopherchristophersays: Jay’s counter-part and partner authors the blog christophersays and helps out at the main site. Christopher and Jay often disagree about politics and the gay rights movement leading to very stimulating and sometimes frustrating conversations. Thus, Jay dubbed him a “radical.”

LGBT Notable News Happenings (June 7, 2009 – June 12, 2009).

June 15, 2009 By: MJ Category: Featured, LGBT News

LGBT NewsSalt Lake Celebrates LGBT Pride (June 8, 2009)

There were brightly colored floats, rainbow banners, marching and dancing men and women in brightly colored attire.  This year the Utah Pride Center,  organizer of the celebration, also held a political rally in conjunction with the festival.  Grand marshal was LGBT activist Clive Jones – who incidentally thanked The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for supporting Proposition 8.  Clive said, “We thank you for unifying us as never before.  We thank you for teaching our young people that they must be prepared to fight for freedom.”  It is easy to feel like part of the fun – just go to the article and click the “play multimedia” link on the red and white striped face !!  Happy LGBT Pride month everybody!!

D.C. Pride Fest Honors Franklin Kameny (June 8, 2009)

Franklin Kameny is known as one of the original LGBT activists, and this year he was honored as a part of the Pride Fest in D.C.  Kameny was part of the first Gay Rights picket in front of the White House in October 1965 – and although he has been involved in many parts of the LGBT rights movement – he prefers to be remembered for coming up with the slogan “Gay is Good” in 1968.  The slogan is really very important to him.  Mr. Kameny said, “The phrase encapsulates the whole underlying driving force and rationale for everything that I’ve been involved in.”  Mr. Kameny is still quite active at the age of 84, and has been advising DC Council member David Catania on the gay marriage issue as well as continuing to lobby Congress to end D.A.D.T.   A volunteer group called the Kameny Papers Project donated more than 50,000 of his documents – which have been catalogued by the Library of Congress.   These are just a few of the ways in which Franklin Kameny has continued to enhance our movement.

Gay Man From Philippines Wins Asylum in CA (June 8, 2009)

Philip Belarmino is an English Professor from the Philippines, and taught there at university for 17 years.  He has been staying with his parents and his sister who are permanent residents in the Bay Area.  After his visitor’s visa expired in 2006 Professor Belarmino consulted an attorney in San Francisco and began his fight to stay in the U.S.  He had been sexually assaulted a number of times in the Philippines and he had been fearful of being subject to further abuse because of his sexuality if he would have been forced to return.  That was part of the court testimony heard by Judge Loreto Geisse who fortunately finally granted political asylum in the United States to Philip Belarmino.  This was not the Professor’s first attempt to stop his own deportation but this time it was successful!!!  During his celebration of asylum he also showed courage in another way – he “came out” to his own family for the first time.

The Supreme Court Rejects Challenge to DADT (June 8, 2009)

Former Army Capt. James Pietrangelo II, whose military career was forcibly ended by the unconstitutional law “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, had joined with others hoping to having D.A.D.T. overturned.  Kevin Nix – spokesman for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network – responded by saying, “We don’t see that at all as bad news for repeal.  What happens today puts the ball back into the court of Congress and the White House to repeal the law, and that’s where we think it should be right now.”  Previously President Obama indicated he supported repealing the law and hopefully he will begin that process very soon.  Until then many LGBT military service personnel are still being fired from their careers unjustly.

First LGBT Pride Events for Shanghai (June 11, 2009)

The events are being organized by Shanghai LGBT – which is an association of English speaking expatriates.  Money raised by the Pride Events will go to the Hong Kong-based Chi Heng Foundation, which funds education for children orphaned by AIDS in central China.  In order to avoid the need for government permission “Shanghai Pride” will not include a colorful parade – and will be centered around events held in private venues.  Even with the use of private venues there is still concern that the government of China might show their presence and attempt to stop the celebrations.  The medical community in China officially stopped viewing Homosexuality as a mental disorder only as recently as 2001.  Hopefully our brothers and sisters have been having a great and proud time at Shanghai Pride #1 !!  We look forward to the year when they can celebrate loud and with full rainbow colors!

U.S. Officially Speaks Out Against Anti-Gay Violence in Iraq (June 11, 2009)

The U.S. embassy in Baghdad has come forward in raising the issue with Iraqi government officials.  State Department spokesman Ian Kelly has been speaking out directly to the Iraqi government as an official representative.  It is believed (at the time of the article) that as many as 25 boys and men have been killed in Baghdad alone – their only “crime” being that they were Gay or believed to be Gay.  Statistics are not available regarding girls or women who have been killed.  A previous article in this column mentioned that London-Based Amnesty International also wrote directly to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki this past April.  Hopefully more voiced concerns along with even more powerful voices will begin to curb the violence against our LGBT brothers and sisters – and hopefully will also someday change the laws.

CA Gov. and Atty. Gen. Oppose Injunction Against Prop. 8 (June 12, 2009)

The Federal lawsuit already filed by David Boies and Theodore Olson also includes a request for an injunction to freeze the current Gay marriage ban in CA.  According to the article, “(Attorney General) Brown and (Governor) Schwarzenegger argued separately that it would create too much havoc to put the law on hold until the constitutional issues are resolved, perhaps eventually by the U.S. Supreme Court.”  If the injunction were granted – LGBT couples could resume marrying in California.  Attorney General Brown said that he agrees Proposition 8 “imposed a special disability on gays and lesbians and their families on the basis of sexual orientation.”  He also mentioned that it is in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s promise of equal protection and due process.  Actually the Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines “disability” as; “1 a:  the condition of being disabled;  b:  inability to pursue an occupation because of a physical or mental impairment.”  Possibly the Attorney General meant to use a different word in describing the lack of equality gays and lesbians and their families are experiencing.

Fed D.O.J. Dismisses Suit Filed by Gay Couple Married in CA (June 12, 2009)

This lawsuit was actually filed prior to the suit filed by the attorneys Boies and Olsen.  The first Fed lawsuit was filed to argue the case of Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer, who were legally married in California during 2008.  The recent ruling upholding the actions of Prop. 8 means their marriage is still legal, but their concern is the legality of their marriage in states other than California where LGBT marriage is not approved or is still illegal.  The U.S. Justice Department has filed the necessary motion to dismiss the case – the motion was filed on Thursday.  According to the article reported by the AP, “In a separate filing, the California attorney general moved Thursday to dismiss the state lawsuit by the same couple, saying Hammer and Smelt lack standing to sue because their marriage was unaffected in any way by the passage of Proposition 8, the voter-approved gay marriage ban.”  The case was originally in California state court before it went to Federal court.

pngwnz [photo coming soon]: jaysays.com contributor, MJ, a/k/a pngwnz, is an out lesbian with an affinity for the music of Phil Collins and Carole King. She has been an invaluable resource as a reader and idea bouncer-off-er [yeah, that’s the word we are using] and we are pleased to have her as part of the team!