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Everything Mississippi Should Have Learned from Glee.

April 30, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Featured, Youth Issues

Ceara Sturgis denied photograph in High School Yearbook

Ceara Sturgis Class of 2010. Congratulations Ceara on your graduation from all of us at jaysays.com!

It’s starting to seem like the State of Mississippi has declared an outright war on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teens.  This bully pulpit is evident in numerous decisions by school districts to exclude openly LGBT kids from school activities.

There’s the obvious and well publicized case of Constance McMillen, an openly lesbian student at Itawamba Agricultural High School (“IAHS”), who, after receiving notice that same-sex couples would not be allowed at the school’s prom, requested permission from school officials to take a same-sex date.  School officials knew they couldn’t legally deny her request, but to prevent her from taking the date she wanted to (and from wearing a tux) they canceled the event all together.  The school eventually had two proms, sending Constance and a few other students to one and the rest of the students to another.

Of course, this wasn’t the first attack at IAHS against LGBT students and won’t likely be the last.  Prior to Constance there was Juin Baize, who was suspended for being biologically male but wearing make-up and woman’s clothing.

It seems it’s now Copiah County School District’s turn at the bully pulpit.  Graduating senior, Ceara Sturgis, not only had her photograph removed from the yearbook because of her choice to wear a tuxedo and sport a “male” hairstyle, but there was no mention of her in the yearbook.

That story line may sound a bit familiar to my fellow Gleeks?  In the Mattress episode of Glee, Rachel wanted the Glee Club photo included in the yearbook; however, Sue Sylvester objected stating that it would subject the student’s photos to graffiti and humiliation (her real purpose wasn’t so noble).  History had not been kind to the outcasts of the Glee Club as photographs were defaced with mean commentary by fellow students; essentially because the vast majority felt that the Glee Club was representative of the outcasts, the geeks, the nerds and the homos.  Unlike in Mississippi, however, the Glee photograph made it into the yearbook.

While no state is immune to bigotry, Mississippi has long since had a reputation for racism, homophobia and sexism that is virtually unchallengeable.  Through the “Christian Identity Movement,” many Mississippians have excused their hate in the guise of religion. Members of my own family from the state have preached the soullessness of the black man (the Curse of Ham), women’s servitude of man, and homophobia in the name of Biblical law.  While it must be stated that not all Mississippians feel the same, it certainly seems to be a prevalent and recurring issue.

Maybe it’s time we give Mississippi a little dose of Glee – Equality style.

This Thanksgiving: Proud to be the T in LGBT

November 26, 2009 By: Lauryn Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

FallLeavesAt one time I thought I really liked holidays.  Over the years as we have lost family, I realized that what I really liked was the time off to spend with family and friends.  Today I give much greater thanks for my family than ever before.  I have truly learned what it means to have others you can connect to in heart, mind, and soul.  My own journey is one that is unique, as we each are unique.  I have been amazingly blessed to have been able to continue to have all of my family as close allies through my entire transition.

I am sure over time you will all hear my full story but on this day of Thanksgiving I want to especially focus on my family.  I consider my family to be all of those that I feel near and dear to, both my nuclear family and my family of choice.  In my family we are bonded and we are very close.  We stick together and although we fight we always stand together against the outside world.  I think this is true with my family of choice as well.  I am using the family of choice term to identify those to whom I feel a special closeness within my band of friendships.

The friends I have are from many places and are as diverse as the rainbow.  I feel very close to my friends at church, they accepted me and saw God’s blessing in me.  I also have many friends in the T community, some of which I bonded with very quickly, Michael Brown being a good example.  Others are in the L, G, B, or H alphabet soup.  I feel blessed to have very close friends that I can depend on who happen to be lesbians, gay or heterosexual (ok some are actually U-unknown).  I am very proud to be associated with each and every one of them.  I sometimes wish I could feel less like a T and more like a “woman” with them but that is really the fault of society as a whole.

I get up almost every day and think today has to be the day that I just go stealth.  Then I get dressed and do it all again being proud of my friends and accepting that they are proud of me for being T.  The relationships are mutual but we don’t always agree.  Sometimes I think they are too gay and they think I am too T, but always we love each other.  I know that I should be more angry or more hurt when gays bash Ts or even worse, just forget us altogether.  It just really isn’t in me to strike back because there are so many wonderful gays, lesbians, and others that I proudly call my brothers and sisters!  I truly believe that each of those I hold close stand with me, and when we are together the haters do not matter.

I am very thankful for all of my family and friends today, I love all of you.  I especially love my partner of 27 years and my 2 children.  The boys have now grown into young men and they have been supportive every step of the way.  It is actually my eldest son who pulled us all from the closet, and as I tell them now, they all had to transition.  I had been transitioning for many years but now it has been their turn.  They have transitioned better than could have been imagined, I am thankful for that as well.

In closing I want to share a blog that my son wrote only a day or 2 after meeting Lauryn for the first time.  Both of my children got their intelligence and writing skills from their other parent, I am also thankful for that blessing.  This short statement expresses what I hope, and believe, much of my family feels, both nuclear and by choice.  I am proud to be the T in LGBT because of the love the L, G, and B have shown and that they continue to demonstrate every day.  Today, I am blessed and I give Thanks!

Dear T – by Mark Farris

I am writing to you because you have been left behind, because you have been pushed into the wilderness alone. There has been a lot of ground made on the part of the L, G, and B but alone still stands the T. The conservative right, have grown to accept the L, G, and B as mere lost souls.  They are lost souls that need to be “saved” by God’s grace to free them from their chains of self identity.  The T though is still being accused of having a diagnosable disorder, one that with time and patience can be cured.  The Conservatives raise the claim that God created humans as man and woman, forever to be separated as one or the other.  They claim that the perfect union of these two sexes comes with marriage and marriage alone.

At one point the slaves of this country were considered to be nothing more than beasts of the field. The African American population with time rose up to meet their oppressor.  With time people began to accept them as humans.  At one time women were nothing more than domestic robots that were to do as they were told, and leave the rest to men. With time they rose to meet their oppressor.  With time the glass ceiling fell away in small pieces here and there.  People however came to accept them as humans.  At one time homosexuals were viewed as the cause for the AIDS virus.  With time it was realized that the AIDS virus was affecting the whole human race.  Slowly but surely they were not blamed any more.

It is time for people to realize that the L, G, B, and T are all people.  God created man and woman, Genesis 1:27 “in his own image, male and female.”  This is the passage quoted by the conservative right.  The claim made is that God purposely created men and woman separately to be different from one another.  This language is not present here.

God created humankind in his likeness.  The use of the pronoun “his” is used as the label given to God by the original translators and writers of the texts.  There is no language to suggest what gender God is.  God is a being that created human in the likeness of self.  Woman and man were created to complete the picture of human kind.  Humanity would not be complete without both woman and man. The T, you represent both aspects of humanity.  You are the full representation of the image of God.  There will come a time when even the T will be accepted, and there will come a time when accepting both genders will not be viewed as a disease but will be viewed as a blessing.

With this blessing I would like to stress, that I am a heterosexual that is in support of this cause of this fight. I will not stand silent any longer. All I ask is that the LGBT people unite not only within themselves but unite with the H, the heterosexual population.  We as heterosexuals are not disadvantaged by not being T, we in many cases choose to challenge our gender in different ways.  We all must accept our humanity.  We all must accept each other as a member of humanity.

We must unite together, with a creator in mind.  The road is long, but it is a road that needs to be walked down.  I hope to do my best to fight this fight, with the resources and skills that I have.  We must not be hung up on the labels of “male,” “female,” “gay,” “straight,” but we should unite together under one label, one soul, humanity. God is not a man or a woman, God is not gay, or straight. God created an identity for all living things.  I hope this message finds you well T.  With courage you shall rise up and shall break the closet door down. “After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision:”Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” With devotion and hope, Mark Farris.

LGBT Notable News Happenings – (September 3, 2009 – September 10, 2009)

September 12, 2009 By: MJ Category: Featured, LGBT News

LGBT NewsGay Sailor Brutalized by Own Unit and Discharged in CA (September 3, 2009)

Former Petty Officer Third Class Joseph Rocha was brutalized for more than two years by members of his own unit in Bahrain. He was returned to CA suffering from P.T.S.D. and was forced to admit to his sexual orientation – then was discharged under D.A.D.T. Others were also brutalized and the military is investigating.

Bill Recognizing Harvey Milk’s Birthday Passes CA Legislature (September 4, 2009)

Once again a bill to recognize Harvey Milk is waiting for the signature of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger – and would recognize Harvey Milk on his birthday – May 22nd.  If signed – Harvey Milk would join the only three other days of recognition in the state.

LGBT Activist Runs For Mayor in Idaho Town (September 5, 2009)

Melissa Sue Robinson is an LGBT activist and transwoman running for mayor of Nampa. She was previously married for 17 years and her ex-wife now plays a major role in her election campaign. Some of those not so pleased that she is running include a person who started a fraudulent Twitter account in her name – which has since been closed.

Los Angeles Mourns Death of Albert L. Gordon –  Gay Rights Attorney (September 6, 2009)

Albert L. Gordon was married and had twin sons – both sons are/were Gay. Mr. Gordon became an attorney in his 40’s and fought for LGBT rights. His first wife and one of his sons died before him. He was known as the leading pro bono lawyer to L.A.’s Gay community.

Catholic Church in Maine Supporting Anti-Gay Marriage Referendum (September 6, 2009)

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland has requested that its parishes have a special second collection this coming weekend – with the money collected to go to Stand for Marriage Maine. Stand for Marriage Maine is leading the effort to repeal legal Same-Sex Marriage in Maine – the Catholic Church is exempt from federal taxes as a non-profit religious institution in spite of its political dealings.

Openly Gay Man Accepted for Training in Church of Scotland Ministry (September 8, 2009)

The Church of Scotland has selected to train a Gay man –  in a Civil Partnership – for ministry despite a ban. Church officials backed his candidacy after receiving advice from an internal body that supports would-be trainees. The ban was put in place after the appointment of The Rev Scott Rennie.

Lesbian From U.S. Army Fighting Deportation From Canada (September 8, 2009)

Former Pte. Bethany Smith – who changed her name to Skyler James – requested discharge then decided to leave the U.S. Army after harassment and death threats from within her unit. She was unable to report the threats because of D.A.D.T. and was outed by another soldier. Skyler James is now fully employed and living in Canada. but faces deportation.

Proposed Law to Repeal Ban on Healthy Gay and Bisexual Blood Donations (September 8, 2009)

There is new proposed legislation which would allow healthy Gay and Bisexual men to donate blood. The legislation was approved by the Assembly Tuesday and is called the U.S. Blood Donor Nondiscrimination Resolution – and it moves to the state Senate in January 2010.

Gordon Brown Honors Contributions of Alan Turing During WWII in UK (September 10, 2009)

Alan Turing was a brilliant mathematician and was most famous for his work in breaking German Enigma codes during WWII. In 1952 he was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ (for being Gay) and sentenced – then took his own life just two years after that. Gordon Brown acknowledged that a coalition of computer scientists, historians and LGBT Activists made it possible for Mr. Turing to be honored.

mjpngwnz: MJ, a/k/a pngwnz, is summarizing LGBT current events each week for jaysays.com and the Why Would You Say That – Really? series. She is an out lesbian with an affinity for the music of Phil Collins and Carole King.

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:

Lawsuit Filed to Remove “God” from Inauguration

January 09, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Religion

As Rick Warren prepares to take the stage at the Obama Inaugeration, a lawsuit was filed naming Plaintiffs as:

Michael Newdow; Mel Lipman; Dan Barker And Annie-Laurie Gaylor; Marie Castle; Herb Silverman; Kirk Hornbeck; Catharine Lamm; Richard Wingrove; Christopher Arntzen; John Stoltenberg; Katherine Laclair; Louis Altman; “Unnamed Children;” The American Humanist Association (“AHA”); The Freedom From Religion Foundation (“FFRF”); Minnesota Atheists; Atheists For Human Right[s] (“AHFR”); Atheist Alliance International (“AAI”); New Orleans Secular Humanist Association (“NOSHA”)

and Defendants as:

Hon. John Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice Of The U.S. Supreme Court; Presidential Inaugural Committee (“PIC”); Emmett Beliveau, Executive Director, Pic; Joint Congressional Committee On Inaugural Ceremonies (“JCCIC”); Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chairperson, JCCIC; Armed Forces Inaugural Committee (“AFIC”); Major General Richard J. Rowe Jr., Chairperson, AFIC; Rev. Rick Warren; Rev. Joe Lowery.

The lawsuit has spawned much controversy due to the outrage held by many members of the LGBT community to the non-gay friendly Rick Warren’s appointment to lead the invocation.  In one posting regarding the lawsuit, the author states:

Those who were responsible for the lawsuit, these individual atheists and their organizations,The American Humanist Association; The Freedom From Religion Foundation ; Minnesota Atheists; Atheists For Human Rights; Atheists Alliance International; New Orleans Secular Humanist Association, coupled with the gay terroristic activities surrounding the passing of Proposition 8 in California, and Rick Jacobs, who chairs the California’s Courage Campaign and the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender), are the abject clearinghouse for America’s immortality and anti-America sentiment. These groups are nothing less than moral nazis and terrorists.  See: Postworthy

Try as I might I can’t decide which group will suffer the most from the association.  Will the reputation of the LGBT community suffer from the association with the atheist organizations the most or will the atheist associations suffer the association with the LGBT community the most?  As a gay atheist, I find myself battling for equality on two fronts – my lack of religion and my lack of heterosexual desires.  The primary difference between the two is, although I did not choose to be a gay man, I did choose to “come out” – whereas I not only chose to “come out” as an atheist, but I also chose to “be” an atheist.

Further to that, I’m sick of the inappropriate use of the word terrorists when referring to the actions and reactions of the LGBT community to the passage of proposition 8.  I remember a time in America where terrorists where generally those doing the attacking, not those defending themselves from attackers.  I refer you to another post regarding resin poisoning threats against gay bars in Seattle.

Near the beginning of the Rick Warren scandal, I made this post about how we [LGBT people] are upset that the prayer leader is against civil equality for homosexuals, but could care less about the fact that the Government is again sanctioning religion.  Looks like someone was listening.

Supporters of the oath of office, which has “traditionally” included the words “Under God,” claim that it was inserted into the oath by George Washington – this claim is debatable as many believe it is a myth.  As a side note, “Under God” was not added to the Pledge of Allegiance until 1954 due to pressure from the Knights of Columbus.